April 19, 2011
By Jon Cooper
Caitlin Jordan loves to win as much as anybody on the Georgia Tech softball team.
And she really loves contributing to wins.
It’s the whole fanfare thing after doing so that she could do without.
The sophomore from Stockbridge, Ga., was faced with having to deal with being the dreaded center-of-attention Saturday afternoon, following her dramatic seventh-inning, walk-off, three-run home run that lifted the Yellow Jackets from a 4-3 deficit to a 6-4 win over North Carolina.
The blast would help spark a double-header sweep — she would add another homer in the 7-5 nightcap victory — as the No. 23/22 Yellow Jackets fought off the challenge of another worthy challenger to another ACC regular-season crown.
“A home run was not anywhere near my mind. My thing was just to get a base hit, keep the momentum going,” said Jordan, who hit seven homers last season and knocked the Tar Heels out of last year’s ACC semifinals with a pinch-hit, walk-off, three-run homer in the bottom of the fifth inning. “I just wanted to keep the momentum going because the energy was really high. It was just great. Because I knew Lori Spingola is the top pitcher in the ACC and so….”
Almost as if catching herself giving herself props, she quickly chimed in,
“But my teammates have to be there to get on base. They have to have my back.”
They do. The same way Jordan had theirs in taking over first base last Wednesday night after starting first baseman Kristine Priebe injured her back. The circumstances of her getting in the lineup made coming through even much more special than the ACC Tournament blast, which ended the 8-0 win.
“When Kristine Priebe got hurt, she’s a huge part of this team, she’s a senior, she’s a leader. She’s a huge asset to this team. I just knew I had to perform as well as I ever have just to try to fill her shoes,” she said. “So I guess it’s more special this year because Priebe is a big asset and I hope she gets back soon.”
Jordan isn’t apologizing for coming through in the clutch. She just wants to do good in concert with the entire team being at its best.
“That’s how she is,” said head coach Sharon Perkins. “She’s in it for the team. She just wants to do her part for the good of the team. For her to say that doesn’t surprise me at all. She knows what Kristine means to the team. Now it’s kind of like she’s starting to earn her spot. So that’s good. For us to have another hot bat like that is comforting for me.”
The way she came through gave her teammates a lift as well.
“I love it,” said freshman second baseman Ashley Thomas, whose walk-off single on Sunday completed the sweep that Jordan’s homer began the day before. “She knew that she had to go in there and make something happen as we had an unexpected injury to Priebe. She knew that she would have to help the team and make something happen, being in the lineup now. Her pulling through for the team is great to see.”
It’s something the Yellow Jackets may see a lot more of as the team heads down the stretch.
Jordan came to Mewborn Park last Saturday with a .296 batting average, one homer and four RBIs on the season. When she gets on the field with the team at The Park in Charlottesville, Va., for this weekend’s match-up with the University of Virginia, she’ll bring a .378 average, three homers and eight RBIs. Not to mention a ton of confidence.
She certainly has earned the confidence of her coach.
“We tried to give her opportunities early on and she struggled a little bit,” said Perkins. “I think she was kind of second-guessing her at-bats, probably thinking a little bit too much. Then, she’s in a situation where we just completely throw her into it and she is just on fire now. That says a lot about her that she can go one way or the other and she just decided to take advantage of the opportunity and just roll with it and that’s what she’s done. She was clutch in every game that we played. She’s just on fire.
“For her to come out and help us win games is amazing,” she added. “After you’re not expected to, unfortunately, not everybody gets to play every game. For her to come in and be clutch like that was awesome.”