Bath County Softball Standout Playing Professionally
Bath County has been the home of a number of athletes who have gone onto professional sports careers. The latest of these is Jailyn Ford, former Charger softball standout who is now playing in the National Pro Fastpitch League.
“I’m Jailyn, and I’m from Hot Springs, Va – graduated in 2012 from Bath County High School, and moved on to JMU, where I played softball for the Dukes, and also studied sport and recreation management, with a minor in business. After my career there, I decided to try my professional career, and got drafted in the first round by the Akron Racers, and I’m loving it, and still continuing that dream of playing softball at the professional level.
Ms. Ford received a number of accolades during her career at JMU, including second and third team All-American, but she was reluctant to shine the spotlight on herself, and it took some journalistic arm twisting to have her speak about them.
“(I) broke a lot of records at JMU, and received a lot of awards – Female Athlete of the Year, given by the University; CAA Player of the Year, Pitcher of the Year, Rookie of the Year – those were kind of the big ones – received a national award one week this season. But I think all those awards kind of come down to – it’s a team effort. I never really liked talking about myself, just because it’s so much of a team success, and they put so much into it, so they deserve to be rewarded as well, even though it kind of acknowledges one player, I still see it as a whole team success.”
She talked about how it felt to watch the draft process, and what her life as a professional is like.
“I guess the feeling would be kind of like, anxious. You know, you’re excited, but you’re anxious to see kind of where you’ll be headed, where you’ll be playing, and then once you find out, it’s kind of a relief, and you see that all the hard work that you’ve been experiencing all the past four years, the past, maybe, 20 years of your life, since you started playing have paid off to reach that ultimate goal of going professional.
“it’s kind of the dream, I guess – you just kind of eat, sleep and live softball. Compared to college, where everything’s kind of scheduled out, and you’re working around school, and some people working and doing internships and that sort of thing, it’s a lot more relaxed, a lot more free time, but it’s a lot more self-motivated too, so you have kids coming at 9:00 in the morning, trying to get extra cuts or extra ground balls, and it’s not a whole lot of structure, but you’ve got to learn to motivate yourself, and just get out there and play some softball, and have some fun and do it all again the next day.
“We play, I think, 50 some games a season, through June to August, so right now we’re playing almost every day. Last week we played four days in a row, had an off day, and now we’re getting ready to play three again in a row. One team in Orlando, there’s a team in Pennsylvania, our team in Akron, Ohio, there’s two teams in Texas, and there’s a team in Chicago.”
Ms. Ford is not only playing for the team, but using her education and skills to help further the team and give back to the game.
“I’n interning here with the Akron Racers, trying to help with ticket sales and do a couple lessons too. With my major in sport and recreation management, it gives me a unique opportunity to be able to work with the program, but also, I have an interest in developing players too, so I still want to gain that learning aspect and teaching aspect as well. So I’m lucky that they’re able to take me on, and excited to hopefully gain some new knowledge and learn some things about ticket sales, and helping kids.”