JDHS senior pitcher and second baseman Jennifer Nelson mows down opposing batters from the circle for the reigning state champion Crimson Bears softball team. Last season, Nelson pitched the Bears to a state title using an effective screwball and curveball combination to shut down the East Anchorage hitters. Nelson has a passion for the field of wildlife biology and, in her free time, participates in an after-school Robotics club, roots for Missouri-based sports teams with her dad and is a devoted Pokémon player extraordinaire.
How long have you been playing softball?
“I’ve been playing softball since I was eight, but I grew up across the street from Diamond Park and my parents have played slow pitch ever since I was born. I’ve just been surrounded by it.”
What attracted you to the sport?
“A lot of people think that baseball and softball are very boring, but the way I see it, you have to keep up the intensity and focus all game long, and every play matters in the outcome. I try and take some of those qualities and use them in real life. I try and take (life) one step at a time and make everything as close to perfect as I can.”
Do you play any other sports?
“I play volleyball, but it’s really more of a hobby, I would say.”
What do you like to do in your free time when you’re not playing softball?
“It’s really nerdy, but I do play Pokémon a lot. Softball takes so much of my time that there’s not a lot of time to do anything else. I did do Robotics club, or FTC (First Tech Challenge), as an after school activity. I’m really interested in robotics, just not very good at the engineering part. I was the driver for our robot. My mom always wanted me to be an engineer, so this was kind of my attempt to do that sort of thing. I think it’s really cool how people can just make up things and turn it into a robot.”
What are your academic interests?
“If I don’t get a scholarship from anywhere for softball, I’m going to University of Montana for wildlife biology. I like ecology and zoology. I’m not really a personal person with animals, but I like the way organisms work. I think it’s interesting how life is and how everything is connected to everything.”
What’s the process been like trying to get recruited by a college team?
“Kalea (Chapman) and I are playing for an Anchorage team this summer, and we’re going to two big recruiting camps. So, right now, we’re both talking to colleges and telling them that we’re going to be at these two camps. My ultimate goal is to play softball in college, but I’m also trying to focus on academics.”
Do you follow softball at the college or Olympic level?
“Olympic softball is kind of dwindling because it got replaced by golf, but Jennie Finch was pretty much my idol as an Olympic softball pitcher. For college softball, I usually root for the West Coast teams. I really like University of Washington; they had Danielle Lawrie, a Canadian player. I watch the World Series and stuff but I’m not a big fan of any one team. Whenever Mizzou’s on, my dad and I root for them, but I don’t know any of their players. I follow more MLB than softball. We root for the Cardinals and Royals. My dad’s crazy about Missouri anything, so I kind of get dragged into it.”
What are your expectations for this season?
“I know that we can win state again. All the talent is there, it’s just more of staying mentally there for each game. It’s about bringing it each game and not losing it. The losses of our two seniors, Krista (Barill) and Brittany (Fenumiai), will be tough. They were both pitchers and that leaves me as our only experienced pitcher left. But I know that our younger pitchers will step up and work hard to try to fill those holes.”