Luella sophomore Jace Jackson, at times, doesn’t really play like a sophomore. And the way she approaches the game of softball suggests a maturity that belies her age. Still, Jackson is just in her second year of high school ball, and is making the impact of a grizzled veteran. Coming into the week, Jackson carried a .583 batting average and a .688 on-base percentage with two homers for the season, and her play has helped Luella to a 12-3 record overall and a 10-1 mark in Region 5-AAAA where the Lions are in first place. She was recently named Luella’s September Athlete of the Month, and was called a “natural-born leader.”
We had the chance to chat with Jackson for this week’s SCBuzz Five Questions Feature.
STOVALL: As a sophomore, you’re already exhibiting the confidence of a player who is a seasoned senior. Where does that confidence come from? And who is your greatest softball inspiration?
JACKSON: My confidence comes from knowing my worth. My mom has always taught me to believe in myself from an early age. And my greatest softball inspiration is Washington Huskies infielder, Sis Bates. She’s aggressive in the field, and I love it! She makes those though outs which has made her a repeat Pac-12 defensive Player of the Year.
STOVALL: On your Twitter page, you have a video of you hitting a home run against Mt. Zion. You then used the hashtag, “Trust the Process.” What is your personal process toward getting better and becoming the best possible player you can be?
JACKSON: Trust the process is a phrase my travel coach Michael Danley uses to motivate my travel team, TN Mojo-2023. We know that we’ve all got to continue to work hard to get better. Success isn’t overnight, but it’s a daily process toward the ultimate goal. As for me personally, I work out about four to five days a week, which includes hitting, fielding and speed/agility.
STOVALL: How long have you been playing softball, and what got you started in the game? At what point did you really begin to get confidence about your ability to play at a high level?
JACKSON: I started playing when I was 8 at Locust Grove Park. My mom played when she was younger and suggested I play. After that season, my mom knew I was advanced, so she found me a travel team. I joined TN Mojo at 10 years old. We were dominating other teams at such a young age. As a team, we won three national championships and a bunch of different tournaments, and I guess, over the years, that confidence has helped develop me into the player I am now. It hasn’t always been easy. I used to get down on myself for making an error or striking out, but I’ve matured and learned that those things are part of the game. I have learned to make the adjustments and keep my head high, regardless.
STOVALL: Where have you most improved as a player from your freshman year to your sophomore year? What’s the area of your game where you feel you now need to concentrate on most?
JACKSON: My batting has improved from my freshman year. I’m a more confident batter now. I’m constantly working on my different batting skills from slapping and bunting to swinging away. I’m not a one-dimensional hitter. I always want to keep the defense on their toes and not know what to expect when I step in the box. As far as getting better, I’m going to remain concentrated on my hitting, fielding and just overall mental aspects of the game.
STOVALL: Do you have plans to play college ball?
JACKSON: Yes, I definitely want to play college ball. I have a few schools that I’m interested in, but the recruiting rules changed a few years ago, so schools aren’t able to contact players directly. But yes, there have definitely been a few schools that have shown interest.