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Packing cleats for college

Senior signs to play softball in college

Photo courtesy of Jenna James

Photo courtesy of Jenna James

Joel James shows support for his daughter Jenna, who recently signed to play college softball.

Zoee Rogers, Little Cypress-Mauriceville High School

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Notebooks, highlighters, pens, and pencils lie next to game schedules, workout plans, and hair ties. She can be shy at first, is a good student, and always has a kind smile to share. For most of the day, she may be just another high school student walking the halls, laughing with her friends, and doing her best to navigate the ups and downs of teenage-hood, but when she walks into the locker room, a determined and capable softball player emerges. She is a player with integrity and work ethic who will play her hardest every time. That girl is senior Jenna James.

James recently accepted a softball scholarship from Bossier Parish Community College. The college, located in Ramada Bossier City, Louisiana, will cover all of her tuition and books, along with partial room and board. After verbally committing to the offer last May, James officially signed the papers confirming the arrangement on Jan. 21.

“I felt like I was on cloud 9, but at the same time I also realized it was real and that meant I had to continue working,” James said.

According to James, the path to getting noticed for the scholarship was originally introduced to her through the Covington Softball Camp (CSC), a two-day camp led and operated by college coaches and athletes. Head Coach Amanda Nordberg-Hamliton of the Lady Cavaliers of Bossier Parish CC taught and inspired James each time the young softball player returned to the camp. She gained so much from her experience with Coach Nordberg-Hamilton that she decided to pursue a chance to continue working with and learning from her by gaining acceptance to Bossier Parish CC.

“I had known and worked with her for about four years,” James said. “I really fell in love with her and her coaching style, so I began to work towards playing for her in college.”

The seasoned senior earned her place on the team as a pitcher. Her position includes not only making it hard for the opposition to successfully hit the ball, but also acting quickly to get the ball where her team needs it if it is hit back toward her. Being centered directly in front of the batter makes the possibility of getting hit very real and also makes James’ position dependent on focus and quick thinking. For her last season as pitcher for the Lady Bears, James said she has her set goals already in mind.

“I want to go to State and do my job as a leader and a teammate,” she said.

I want to go to State and do my job as a leader and a teammate.”

— Jenna James

Softball is nothing unfamiliar to James. She played softball for the first time when her parents signed her up for Orange Youth Baseball Softball (OYBS) ages six and up. However, she didn’t become a pitcher until age 10 because her dad thought it best she experience other positions and first learn how to catch the ball. By age 11, her passion for the sport had been strongly developed.

“I always liked softball from the first time I picked up a ball,” James said. “I didn’t realize until later that I really loved it and wanted to further my career in it.”

Now as a high school softball player, James looks back on her time at LCM with a new perspective. Comparing the player she was during her freshman year with the player she is now, James said she is proud of how far she has come. As a ninth grader, James said her mental and physical game was just okay. After years of hard work and dedication, James has continued to advance her skill as a player and strengthen her mental and physical talents.

“My confidence level has rocketed sky high,” James said. “My physical game has improved so much after all the long practices, but my mental game is one thing I am especially proud of. That aspect of the game was one thing I really struggled with freshman year but now it has improved so much. I’d like to add, though, that there is always room for improvement.”

During her softball journey, James said she has been influenced by many. She said her parents played big roles in helping her become the person she is today because they always pushed her to be better. Her many coaches also contributed to her success. Frank Russell, James’ pitch coach, Hope Russell, a former LCM player, and Matt Peno and Ashley Bunner, James’ select ball coaches, all encouraged and guided her. Of course, LCM Head Softball Coach Deana Adkins was a big influence as well, always pushing James to do her best.

“Coach Adkins has been such a big inspiration to me,” James said. “Yes, she has screamed at me and pushed me to my limits, but in the end, everything she has done has made me into the athlete I am today.”

Amidst all the hard work and long hours, James has had a lot of fun playing softball. She said softball has brought into her life many amazing girls she is blessed to call teammates. One memory that stands out to James is her first home run, which took place last year on Oct. 29 while she was playing select ball. That game was special to James because of how long she worked for it. Another great memory includes a team tradition.

“It happens every year as an annual joke,” James said.”Coach Adkins lets us get food and always acts like she is going to leave someone and watches them freak out as she pulls away. There are so many funny things that happen with our team, but I have to say this is the funniest.”

I believe in hard work.”

— Jenna James

James said she has learned a lot in her four years as a Lady Bear and once she graduates, she plans to keep working on her game. Her scholarship to Bossier Parish Community College is actually only the first step on the way to her bigger ambitions.

“I hope to further my mental and physical [skills] playing at the collegiate level,” James said. “I also hope to transfer after my first two years at Bossier Parish Community College to continue my career as a collegiate softball player.”

James has worked hard to be the best player and person she can be. She has gained knowledge, training, and experience from her time spent on the field and the mentors that helped her. Throughout everything, James has grown to believe that if you work for it, you can achieve it.

“I believe in hard work,” James said. “Everything has to be earned.”

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