Winning is catching on with West Jordan softballMay 24, 2021 03:26PM ● By Greg James
Izzy Knight anchored a young pitching staff for the jaguars this season, two freshmen and two sophomores spent time in the circle. (Greg James/City Journals)
By Greg James | [email protected]
West Jordan’s girls’ softball team earned a chance to host games in the first round of the state tournament. For a young team, its coach hopes it is an accomplishment that could lead to more success in the future.
“We have had a winning season for the first time in a long time,” third-year head coach Jocelyn Kaufman said. “We have improved a lot and we are starting to make a good name for our program.”
In 2019 the Jaguars won seven games, 2018 only four. This year they have a 13-9 record and finished fifth in the Utah High School Activities Association’s Region 2.
“I think we have four solid pitchers. Our hitting has improved. We have worked on making better swings and that has helped,” Kaufman said.
Freshman Isabella Knight has anchored the pitching staff made up of underclassmen.
“Our entire team is pretty young. We have only two seniors that start, one has been hurt for a while,” Kaufman said. “I feel like we can advance and make a statement in the tournament.”
Knight threw 74 innings for the Jaguars and logged 107 strikeouts. Freshman Olivia Haroldson only walked six batters while pitching in six games. The other two pitchers on the staff, both sophomores, Tatum Ballard and Erica Ozur combined for 36 strikeouts in 35 innings.
Lacie Christensen leads the team with a .396 batting average. Senior Morgan Borran knocked in seven runs with two triples. Knight leads the team with four home runs and 46 runs batted in.
“Tatum is a player I can count on. I play her anywhere, mostly outfield, she performs well. Izzy has a great rise-ball and throws really hard. As a freshman she is throwing harder and will get better and better,” Kaufman said.
West Jordan took on Hunter in the first round of the state tournament. In the first game of the best-of-three series they lost 8-4 in extra innings. It was a hard back and forth battle. The Jaguars were able to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh but allowed five runs in the top of the eighth for the loss. (games two and three were after the press deadline)
“I feel like we have improved a lot since we played them last. We struck out too many times against them. We have been working on protecting with two strikes and laying off the high pitch,” Kaufman said. “We need to show that we can beat teams and build our confidence.”
West Jordan ended the season ranked 16th by the UHSAA rating performance index. The format for the state tournament has changed this season. The higher-rated teams earned byes into the super regionals. The lower-rated teams begin by playing best of three series. The winners advance into super regions with the same format. Those winners advance into an eight-team double-elimination tournament to determine the state champion.
“They have worked really hard. We are very young and hosting a tournament game is going to be great for us. If we don’t go as far as we hope the other teams better keep an eye out for us in the years to come,” Kaufman said.