“Just remember that everybody goes through their hard moments. You can do it. You can be better. There are a whole bunch of players that play professional now that weren’t good when they were little and now they are like the best players in the world and everyone looks up to them.”
R: Do you have any other nicknames?
J: Well, when I was trying out for the Titans, immediately one of the coaches called me “Lefty”. I was catching and he saw that I was left-handed and it kind of threw him off, so he calls me “Lefty” now.
R: That’s fun! Tell me how you got started in softball?
J: I never kind of knew what I was doing when I was little. They just gave me a bat and I started hitting things. It was one of the little plush ones. I never played TBall or anything, I just went to coach-pitch, so I just sat there in the backyard and would hit the ball off the tee.
R: When did it click for you that softball was the sport for you?
J: 12U. When I first started, I didn’t really have a position, but I played first base in 10U and I really liked it. The 10U level got me started, but it was 12U when I really wanted to play. That was the first year I got to be the catcher! It was just super fun and different.
R: That’s awesome! What number do you wear?
J: I wear number 26.
R: Any significance for number 26?
J: Yeah, the Oregon Ducks softball team, they have a catcher named Janelle Lindvall who wears number 26. She is my role model and so that’s why I wear her number.
R: She is definitely an amazing catcher. What is it about her that has impacted you?
J: The way she acts. After the games, you can tell that everybody is tired, but no matter what happened, she treats you well and will still give you a hug and an autograph and take pictures with you. The whole team is super nice.
R: Do you think you would want to play for the ducks when you are older?
J: Yeah! It’s my go-to college right now. I really want to play there.
R: That is very exciting! Being a lefty catcher is definitely unique and not many lefties have the opportunity to be a catcher. Have you found it difficult at all to play your position? Are there certain things you have to do differently?
J: I think being a lefty catcher definitely throws the runners off a little. All of my coaches have actually been really supportive and encouraged me to be a catcher. I was the only one that thought maybe they wouldn’t let me. But they have always told me that it’s fine and to go ahead and do it if I really want to do it.
R: That is so great to have such supportive coaches. In what ways do you support or encourage your teammates?
J: We do softball cheers. We have the Oregon Titan beat cheer. We do it over and over usually in rallies or when we are doing really good and we are really excited. But other than cheers, we have a really good team in regards to not getting down on ourselves. Usually no one is ever down. It’s really fun because you can have the worst day possible and everyone is still super positive and really encouraging.
R: It sounds like you have a really positive team culture, which can be so important.
J: Yeah! On one of my old teams, when someone would get down, it would be really hard to pick them back up. But when I came to this team I was really shocked. No one gets bummed and they are really cheerful! It’s crazy.
R: How do you mentally and emotionally prepare for games?
J: Ummm, well I usually get super nervous before games. You can see before I go up to the plate to hit that I shake really bad. But if I get a first strike or something, I take a deep breath. I move my bat in a circle and our coach teaches us to think about ABC’s. C is for confidence, to have confidence up at the plate that you can do it.
R: Is that something that you think you have improved on? Getting more confident if you do get a little bit nervous at the plate?
J: I think so. I used to be really nervous and not hit really strong, but this team has helped me a lot. I’m a really good hitter now and it’s become really easy to not be super shaky and nervous. I might still be nervous, but it’s not noticeable.
R: Good for you! Now, let’s talk about slumps. Everybody goes through them, but how do you get out of them?
J: I am in one right now!
R: Oh no! How are you going to get out of it?
J: Mine is for my swinging right now. I had a perfect swing, and now I am dipping again. I just need to work on my hitting a little more, preferably before this weekend (laughs). I just need to keep working hard.
R: Is there anybody that you rely on during slumps?
J: I don’t really go to people, but someone that helps me through it is my coach Mike. He is always smiling and happy and telling me to have fun. He is always the one to help me through my swing.
R: What has been your most impactful softball moment so far?
J: We were playing for 1st place and the other team’s pitcher was way taller than everyone playing. The first time she came up and hit it, I was playing centerfield. She hit it and it bounced in front of me, but went like 10 feet over my head and bounced and hit the fence. So after that I was like, okay I will stand back a little bit more. Then it was the second to last inning, and I had just caught a pop fly, and the pitcher hit and it was going over my head. But I caught it! If I hadn’t of caught it, she would of scored because it was so far out. So I was running and I jumped up and caught it and then rolled over. I thought I lost it, but then I held my glove up and they called her out. My coaches got super excited and were like, “Okay! Let’s go! Let’s do this!” (Laughs). We ended up winning first that weekend. It was fun!
R: That is so great that you have experienced such a great moment like that and you are only 12!
J: Yeah! (laughs) Oh, and then when I was doing that, the pitcher’s uncle was there photographing everything. So, he came over to us and looked around and asked, “Who’s the centerfielder?” and I was drinking my water and I turned around and was like, “Me…” I was nervous about what he was going to say (laughs). I walked over and he told me, “Don’t ever stop what you are doing, you are so good.” He also gave me a high five and at that moment I just felt so good about myself. It was the best moment ever.
R: That is so awesome! What a cool moment! Now, that moment had a huge impact on you. How would you like to have an impact on younger softball players?
J: I just want them to remember that everybody goes through their hard moments and you may think that you are so bad, but you can improve or you can get through that slump. I’ve been there and done that. You can do it. You can be better. There are a whole bunch of players that play professional now that weren’t good when they were little and now they are like the best players in the world and everyone looks up to them.
R: What do you think makes a great teammate or coach?
J: Someone who is encouraging and always there for you and they can tell that you are having a moment. They can always get you out of it. They can keep you from getting into one of those moments, no matter what.
R: What does your down time in between games look like?
J: Usually a lot of people will go to get food or stay and watch the games, depending on how long the break is. We will hang out and watch other teams to see what we are up against.
R: Who has made the biggest impact on your life so far?
J: Probably my mom and dad because when I was little in 10U, it was my first year and I didn’t want to do any clinics or anything. They would always encourage me to do it…it wasn’t a “make you” like some parents force you to do everything, but it was a good “make you” because they knew I wanted to get better. I did the clinics and I improved a lot. I know a lot more now too. But then I didn’t want to play ASA. I was afraid that everyone would judge me because the ball I used to play was from my small town which was like valley league. And I was afraid that everyone would judge me and be better than me. But I absolutely love it and never want to stop playing it. My parents help me and keep me going through it all.
R: Can you describe how the lessons you learned in softball have carried over into your everyday life?
J: Well, just because things are going bad doesn’t mean that they are going to get worse. I was doing really bad hitting, and I then when I was in Medford I hit a triple. It went all the way to left field’s fence. After that I got my confidence back. Things will get better as long as you just keep working at it.
R: If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?
J: California. My dad is down there right now working. He drills all around the world and prevents landslides. So if a landslide has already happened, he will go down and fix it. He puts drains in to relieve the water pressure. I love going and visiting him everywhere he is. Plus, it is really sunny there right now!
R: Does he travel a lot?
J: Yeah. Sometimes he gets to see me play. Last year for the 4th of July, his boss actually flew us down to California to see him! It was really cool because we got to see the USA softball team play. Also, Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico. Oh and Japan! Japan was really really good.
R: That sounds like so much fun!
J: It was! Also, once I got to be bat girl for the USSSA team. They were asking all of the girls who had been there the whole day if we wanted to go down and hangout. So I got to be their bat girl.
R: Oh my gosh! What was that experience like?
J: It was fun because they were really funny. Like, they are serious about the game, but when they are in the dugout they are having fun with each other. None of them got down on themselves and they picked each other up. They were really positive.
R: Wow. Was there anything else that you learned from them outside of their mentality?
J: I kind of just liked watching them because they were so funny. I learned a lot about their footwork though because I was so close.
R: What is your favorite subject in school?
J: Math. In 3rd grade, we did a lot of multiplication and division and those are my favorite things. Our math teacher had us start doing multiplication tests. I got all the way up our 12’s times tables. And at the end of the year we had this huge paper with them on it, but I didn’t finish it. But the next year in 4th grade I got it! So it kind of has always pushed me to be better in math and any subject, really.
R: Is there anything that you see going on in the world right now that you want to change?
J: Probably animal abuse. I have 2 dogs right now and I just can’t imagine any of those things happening to them. Or even a cat, because I have a cat too. I couldn’t imagine that happening. There are so many photos of animals getting abused and I don’t like it. They haven’t done anything. Plus, a lot of dogs have a bad reputation, but that’s not always the case. It depends on how they are raised.
R: Do you have any ideas on how to change it and make a difference?
J: Well, it’s really hard to change that, because you really can’t keep an animal owner from doing anything unless you catch them in the act or something. I think before someone is allowed to adopt an animal there should be home inspections to see what the home would be like and check if they have any records from harming previous animals. They should see what the neighborhood is like too, because you never know. When you leave your pet home alone and it’s outside or something, someone could come and randomly take it or hurt it.
R: Wow that is a great answer. What would you like your legacy to be when you are done with your softball career?
J: I think I would want everyone to remember how I picked myself up and got out of slumps. I’ve been in a lot of slumps, especially hitting, but I have always worked through them. I’ve always gotten better because of them.
R: What empowers you?
J: I would say my teammates. They always help me when I am down on myself and make me stronger.
R: What does being #softballstrong mean to you?
J: Never giving up, encouraging others. Staying strong through everything and having a good sportsmanship. If the other team beats you, don’t freak out and if the other team loses, don’t brag about it. Being civilized.
R: Last question. You just bought Ringor Diamond Dynasty Molded Cleats! What do you think so far?
J: They feel really good when I put them on and are super comfy. I am really excited to be able to wear them!