Photo by Heather Middleton
By Doug Gorman
Georgia Tech softball player Caitlin Jordan isn't an everyday player for the nationally-ranked Yellow Jackets.
She's spent many games watching from the bench, cheering on her teammates and just waiting for her chance to shine whenever Yellow Jacket head coach Sharon Perkins calls on her to enter the game.
It's created a situation where the sophomore must be ready to play at a moments' notice--often in a pinch hitting role.
At least that's the way the year started for Jordan.
Not so much anymore. With a little patience, Jordan and her bat have turned into one of the key offensive weapons for the Yellow Jackets as they close in on an ACC title and trip to the NCAA tournament.
Biding her time has done wonders for the former Union Grove all-star and current Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket who has earned increasingly more playing time for the No. 23-ranked Yellow Jackets, who lead the ACC with a 39-8 overall record and a 13-1 league mark.
Saturday in the Yellow Jackets' second game at ACC rival Virginia, Jordan blasted three home runs to tie a school record for the most in one game. It was part of a doubleheader sweep of the Cavaliers.
"I really wasn't thinking about it (the home runs) during the game," Jordan said of the accomplishment during a phone interview on Monday. "I was just trying to stay focused."
Jordan's big break came two weeks ago when she was told right before the start of the Yellow Jackets' contest against rival Georgia she was going to serve as the teams designated player.
The Union Grove graduate got her chance when a teammate went down with an injury.
She more than answered the bell. Although Tech lost two leads and dropped a wild 10-8 contest, Jordan went 3-for-3 with a home run and two RBIs.
That game seemed to be the wake-up call she needed, and helped her land a key role in the Yellow Jackets' lineup.
" It started against Georgia, and she's has had an amazing two weeks," Perkins said.
The veteran coach knows it's not always easy for a player to come off the bench on short notice, but praises Jordan for her positive attitude.
" I think it's a lot tougher than if you are an everyday player," Perkins said. "Caitlin has made the most of the situation."
Even during Saturday's record-tying performance, Jordan stayed on an even keel.
"She's kind of hard to read sometimes," Perkins said of her young sophomore. "She never really gets too hyped up. She is just sort of middle of the road."
Jordan entered Tech last year with a long list of softball accolades, including a sensational career playing for former Union Grove coach Brian DeBerry.
The four-year high school letter winner helped Union Grove to region titles in 2006 and 2007. In 2008, Union Grove advanced to the Elite 8 in Columbus.
Jordan also put plenty of effort into the books, and was named the top scholar athlete in Henry County.
Other honors also included being named the state's female winner of the Wendy's High School Heisman Award.
Jordan seldom takes a break from softball. Throughout her high school career, she led her travel ball team in home runs. Those squads also advanced to the nationals three straight years.
It didn't take long for Jordan to find her comfort zone at the college level last year.
Despite limited playing time, she began her college career with a .322 batting average, She also belted seven home runs and finished with 31 RBIs.
Her best softball is still in front of her. Jordan says her goal is to get better every day.
At some point she wants to become an everyday player for the Yellow Jackets.
I am working on my fielding," she said. "I want to be ready when I get the chance."
That chance could come next year when graduation will leave a void in the team's lineup at first base.
Her coach says there are no guarantees, but admits, Jordan is going to get the chance to show what she can do with her glove.
"She will certainly have an opportunity to step in and play," Perkins said.
Regardless of what happens, Jordan is ready to help Tech continue toward its ultimate goal.
"It's been a blessing being a part of this team," she said. "Our goals are to win the ACC title and win the College World Series."