By Jeremy McDonald
MEDFORD, Ore.– One of the up-and-coming players for one of the powerhouse teams in 2A/1A in Kennedy has been cutting her teeth against higher competition in recent weeks.
Slated to be one of the next arms for the Trojan program, pitching four-and-a-third with three strikeouts, Kennedy sophomore Jenna Hopkins knows that the competition she was facing in Medford this past weekend is just a part of what she could and would probably face in her High School career.
“It’s going to really help me play on the Varsity team and just facing the older players and the Seniors and stuff instead of my own age,” said Hopkins.
Hopkins knows the pressure of playing for the Trojans program. 117 wins the last seven years, 58-1 in league play the last four years. As much as ‘playing up’ as you could call it playing with the Hillsboro Diamondbacks 2002 18A squad, there’s also that pressure of knowing the target is on their backs every time they take to the diamond and to perform.
“Obviously everyone expects you to be really good, especially if you make a Varsity team. You just got to do what you do and prove that you have a place there even though it’s a really good program,” said Hopkins.
At the US Cellular Softball Fields, the D-Backs finished fourth in the Upper Bracket this past weekend in Medford. Defeating the NW Vandals 18U-Dippel squad before falling to eventual bracket winners, the Washington Angels Gold squad where Hopkins threw for the first time since July.
An inning-and-two-thirds worth of work against the hard hitting Angels squad where she held them to one run on 26 pitches thrown in the game.
Hopkins got the start in the third/fourth-place game against the Oregon Rebels Henderickson 16U team Sunday night, going three innings and striking out two in the close 5-3 game. The pitching performance came on the heels of the sophomore dividing up her time between the outfield and in the infield.
Playing out of position yes, but it will be helpful for her understanding how each position works behind her while she is in the circle down the road.
“I just really want to do what’s best for the team and if that means I’m playing outfield (against the NW Vandals), then I’ll play outfield and I have to step up and make the plays,” said Hopkins. “It’s awesome. It helps me appreciate them more and know that they got my back if something happens.
“Like if I mess up and they’ll make a good play.”
Hopkins collected one hit and an RBI in the two-day tournament for the Hillsboro Diamondbacks while drawing three walks in seven games.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald