Ward Looking Forward to Playing on College Level
BY LEANN DILBECK –
Jordan Ward’s love for the sport of softball began as early as she could pick up a bat and says she’s been playing for as long as she can remember. She’s enjoyed much success in her softball career and is looking forward to taking it to the next level. Jordan is the 18-year old Mena High School senior of Dane and Shelly Ward.
Jordan began, as many do, playing T-ball at the age of 3 and was already a member of a traveling team by the age of 7. That team became known as “Mena Heat” and a core group of girls took a love and a talent for the sport and each other and parlayed it into college scholarships. Jordan’s dad was a member of the coaching team that also included other parents of players. They are all quick to tell you that the chemistry and connection that these girls found on and off the diamond is more than unique. It has not been without an enormous amount of commitment, dedication, and practice to develop their skills individually and as a team. Wearing both his father and coach’s hat, Dane said, “These past 10 years have bee a blur but I wouldn’t trade the memories and times I have been allowed to send with this fine group of young ladies. They have taught me as much as I have taught them. There is no “I” in team and the only way any of this has been possible is endless hours of work put in by these ladies and their families. Jordan and I are very grateful.”
Jordan’s commitment to the sport and pitching is one of her strongest attributes as an athlete, as noted by Ladycat Head Softball Coach Ray Hunter, “Jordan has been the most committed pitcher I have ever coached. She pitches every day year round! She has five different pitches that she can throw to any batter. When I call a pitch, she never hesitates, she just throws it all out.”
The family’s commitment to the sport was obvious when their family vacations were traveling to Oklahoma City to watch the College World Series. Jordan saw her first at the tender age of 8 and said that it was then that she and her father began dreaming about playing softball at the college level. “Little did they know,” says Shelly, “that this would become a reality and she would become a UCA Bear.”
Jordan accepted a softball scholarship and officially signed to play D1 softball for the University of Central Arkansas under Coach Kuhn, Coach Parsons, and Coach Lamb, who have had their eyes on Jordan. According to Dane and Shelly, they have watched her at numerous UCA camps, and followed her all around the country playing travel ball tournaments. “Jordan is one of the best pitchers in Arkansas,” said Coach Kuhn. “She knows how to win and is an incredibly hard worker.” While Jordan had numerous other offers, UCA was where she wanted to attend and play softball. “She really loved the environment of the team, Conway, the school, and the distance away from home,” said Dane.
An accomplished athlete, Jordan holds two state championship rings as a member of both the 2014 Mena Ladycat State Volleyball team and 2015 Mena Ladycat State Softball team along with being named the MVP of the state championship. Among her many other accomplishments include: 2013 4-4A District Champions, 2014 4-4A All District, 2014 4A North Regional Champions, 2014 4A State Runners Up, 2015 4A All State Tournament Team, 2015 4A All State, 2015 7-4A District Championship, 2015 4A South Regional Championship, 2015 Junior Classic, and 2015 Arkansas Democratic Gazette All Arkansas Preps First Team.
For mom Shelly, her success has been much more than just athletically… with benefits and memories to last a lifetime. “I’m just proud of the dedication and hard work Jordan and Dane have put in. They have practiced at least five nights a week since third grade only taking off a couple weeks a year. The most important thing that has come out of all of this is the bond between Dane and Jordan…. it’s a daddy – daughter relationship like no other!”