Jordan Adams knows a thing or two about helping a softball program take the step to the next level.
The Gig Harbor native was a star pitcher for the Tides in high school, helping them reach the Class 4A state tournament in three of her four years. It was the school’s first state appearance since the 2000-01 season.
Now, as a freshman at Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, Idaho, she is ready to help her college take that next step.
“In high school, we didn’t necessarily have the most talented players, but we all found a way to click together and make it work,” Adams said. “(In college), we are getting stronger and better every weekend. Everything is starting to come together.”
Adams is leading the NCAA Division II Great Northwest Athletic Conference in ERA (1.64), in batting average against (.211) and is second in wins (12) and strikeouts (96). Her Nighthawks (19-18 overall, 10-6 GNAC) are in second place and host two-time league champion Central Washington in doubleheaders scheduled for Friday and Saturday in Nampa.
“She brings an intensity to our team that we all feed off of,” said NNU sophomore Brittany Genuardi, who played summer ball with Adams in the South Sound. “Even though she is a freshman, she is basically a rock. She doesn’t change her emotion whether she is pitching well or not.”
Adams’ collegiate career started a bit rocky. She lost four of her first six starts, battling injuries and facing nationally-ranked teams.
But she has slowly settled in and now is one of the most feared pitchers in the league.
“The only surprise for me is that she is a freshman doing so well in this conference,” NNU coach Rich Wagner said. “But because she is so mentally tough, it is almost not surprising. She is one of the most mentally tough players that I have ever seen.”
Last weekend in a battle with Western Oregon, who was in a tie with NNU for second, Adams won both of her starts pitching seven innings in each. She then threw 4 1/3 innings of relief to earn the win in a 7-6 nine-inning affair to help the Nighthawks take three of four.
“Her determination and drive is so awesome,” NNU senior catcher Lisa Sylvester said. “As a freshman to come in and just shove and show that she’s not afraid of anything … she’s really fearless. She just comes out and battles with us. It’s incredible.
“A freshman coming into our conference they don’t know what kind of hitters they will face. She just does a really good job of hitting her spots. She works so hard and it pays off.”
Adams has been the vocal leader for the Nighthawks this season, something that is not always the case from a freshman.
Watch an NNU game and you are likely to see Adams yelling from the bench, dancing to music and helping get chants going.
“I like to joke around and I like to laugh,” she said. “If there is music playing, I’ll be the first one to be dancing. (My teammates) were honestly a little shocked at how loud and vocal I was, but they all told me they love the intensity.
“They would rather have someone who is intense and passionate about the game rather than someone who is shy. I think that is something that makes me stand out a little bit, is my intensity.”
NNU has never made the playoffs since the program began in 2002. Three years ago, they were 9-37 and have never finished above .500.
This year is their chance. They finally have the pitching to go with the league’s best offense.
“Central is really good,” Adams said. “I know a lot of the girls on Central, but these girls on NNU are just good. I was confident coming in and I’m still confident. I know that we can go far.”