This is the latest in a series of player profiles featuring the Pulaski County Lady Softball seniors. Asked about the group as a whole, Coach Gina Miano said she’d welcome them to her staff as assistant coaches any time they wanted.
“Absolutely! They’re first-class young ladies. It’s absolutely been the most fun I’ve ever had working with this group in terms of coming in every day and giving me all they’ve got. And their leadership filters down the juniors and sophomores. They are a contagious group of positive energy. I look forward to coaching them every day,” Miano said.
In fact, hanging around this group, Miano said, would make for a very interesting reality show.
“Hanging around them would be a hoot!” she said. “You never know what Kelli (Duncan) is going to say. You never know how many times Sara Wright is going to get hit.”
By Ben Hanneman
Jordan Chrisley’s name probably doesn’t translate directly to “Makes good things happen.” But it ought to.
Pulaski County’s senior catcher definitely did make good things happen this season. The Cougars’ leadoff hitter finished at or near the top of the team’s statistical charts in just nearly every category. She was third in the batting average – the one everyone notices first – with a .390 mark during the regular season. Only Kelli Duncan (.432) and Carli Brewer (.412) hit for higher average.
But in other less followed but just as important areas like on-base and slugging percentage, as well as plate appearances and at-bats — yes, there is a difference – Chrisley was second to none.
In 17 regular season games, the senior catcher affectionately dubbed “Baby J” by her teammates for her youthful visage, trekked to the plate a team-leading 69 times during the regular season. She reached base by way of a walk or an error 10 times, giving her 59 official at-bats. She recorded 23 hits, six of which were doubles, and scored 28 runs – also team highs.
She and two teammates – Brooke Hundley and Lauren Shumate – each clubbed three homers. Only Sara Wright had more as she belted seven.
Oh, about those on-base and slugging percentages? Chrisely reached based 47 percent of the time, second only to Duncan, who played in one less game because she tweaked an earlier knee injury near the end of the year.
The youngest of Larry and Ronda Chrisley’s two children also successfully hit the ball at a rate of 69 percent, tops on the team and barely ahead of Shumate at 65 percent. She also drove in 10 runs, one of five Cougars in double-digits RBIs. River Ridge District player of the year Sara Wright led the team with 26 of 109 RBIs, followed by Shumate (17) and Brooke Hundley (11). Brewer also drove in 10 runs during the regular season.
“Hitting is definitely the strongest part of my game,” Chrisley said.
And typical of a leadoff hitter, Chrisley led the team in steals with eight. Duncan nipped at her heels quite literally with seven.
Chrisley, who comes from a fairly athletic family, has played several sports, including basketball, during her career. She began playing softball in t-ball at age five. She can’t remember much from those early days, but does remember being able to quite soccer for her first softball practice.
“I remember being pretty excited about that,” Chrisley said.
Of the two sports, Chrisley likes softball for the sheer enjoyment of the game.
“I get to do what I love every day. I just enjoy playing the game, no matter if it’s with a team that’s not very good or if it’s with a team that’s excellent. I just have fun with the sport,” she said.
While she has played second, short and the outfield as well she prefers to don the catcher’s gear, which some have called “the tools of ignorance” for many different reasons. Chrisley wouldn’t trade them for anything.
“I’m in every single play and I just know when I want the ball from my pitcher that I’m contributing to the team. It’s fun for me,” she said.
While she would have loved to have won more games – especially that last one against Christiansburg in the district tournament – Chrisley said this season was arguably one of her favorites.
“There’s no drama on the team. Win or lose we have fun. When I was a manager (in 7th grade) there was a lot of drama,” she said.
As for the drama of whether to swing at the first pitch each time at the plate, Chrisley said it depends on the situation.
“Most of the time no, unless I know the pitcher. I usually don’t if I haven’t seen them before, like in travel ball I usually don’t, but in high school I’m more prone to,” she said.
She was also prone to be more vocal on the field, especially later in her career.
“When you’re the catcher you’re a leader out there and in the beginning I wasn’t as vocal. But now I’m vocal every play. It helps the team be more aware of how many outs we have and where the next play is. It helps me also just knowing where the play is,” she said.
Asked what she’ll remember about Coach Gina Miano Chrisley summed it up in one word: manners.
“On or off the field she’s taught us to be polite regardless of the situation and to treat everyone with respect,” Chrisley said.
Recalling a funny or embarrassing moment for her or one of her teammates, Chrisley remembered a game in which Duncan wasn’t exactly the “picture” of grace on the base paths.
“In 8th grade, Kelli Duncan was stealing second base and it was muddy and her foot got caught and Cougar Dave has a picture of her in midair with her arms out. I think she was called out,” she said.
After graduation Chrisley plans to play softball at Emory & Henry and double-major in business and psychology.
One piece of advice Chrisley has for her younger teammates one piece is to never let on that you know what the score is.
“Give it your all at all times, no matter if you’re winning or losing,” she said.
As for any coaching plans in the future, Chrisley wasn’t sure, but hinted the younger the better.
“I’d probably start with a rec team maybe in t-ball. I want to coach little kids to be good when they’re older,” she said.
Coach Miano agreed, saying, “There’s no one more knowledgeable about the game than Jordan.”