If you’ve followed Extra Inning Softball since last year, you likely know the story of Jordyn Stuessy, the standout freshman pitcher/outfielder/first baseman and self-proclaimed “military BRAT” who has moved around the country multiple times as her father, Kevin Stuessy, is a Captain in the United States Air Force.
Last fall, he told us: “As I get near the end of my career, we only have one more move in August 2020. Wherever we end up last is where Jordyn can finish her travel softball and start and finish her high school years.”
That final move ended up being from California to Texas and you can read below Jordyn’s previous articles detailing the anxious process of waiting and finding out where she finish out her high school and club careers:
In her latest Inside Pitch, the standout right-hander recaps the crazy COVID-19 impacted spring and summer, how the family got an unexpected twist in the transition to Texas, and how she’s managing at her newly-opened high school, Davenport High in San Antonio, and with her new club team that she chose among the three that really wanted her!
Well…. this has been crazy since I last wrote!
Everybody this year has had their ups and downs but depending on where you live it can be downright unforgiving. Many people think military life can be cruel, and sometimes it can, but for 2020 it was a softball blessing.
I want to say thank you to Brentt Eads and Extra Inning softball for letting me write these articles and thank you for reading them!
This article is dedicated to my all my previous California teammates and I am dedicating my fall season to not only those amazing 13 Salinas Storm teammates but to all California softball players denied the chance to play fall. I miss you all!
Word of a virus on the West Coast was becoming more serious but we still just kept playing and not thinking much of it. We played our second tournament of the spring and it turned out it was our last but just didn’t know it at the time.
We were hitting and pitching well and put the scare into a really good perennially powerful Sorcerer squad in the semifinals. It was one of my best pitching games I can remember. I held them to one run for nearly five innings but we lost a close one.
We were looking forward to such a great season!
Then the tournaments in the upcoming weeks cancelled, then practices were cancelled, then BOOM! On March 16th everything stopped. The California county I lived in was one of the first four counties in all the United Stated to go to Shelter-in-Place restrictions for COVID-19.
With such an abrupt stop I didn’t have a chance to process right away. Everyone had the mindset of maybe a month—worst case—and start up in May. We’d still have school to go back to, then graduate 8th grade, play in summer tourneys before I move…no big deal, right? Right?!?
My parents thought it would be a good idea the first few weeks of COVID to shut down our sports and bodies, to just relax and hang out. It was a nice idea but, being stuck inside, it kind of backfired.
Zoom meetings and hiking (since that was approved as exercise) in the mountains helped us get out of cabin fever. However, parks were roped off and we were unable to do group or team practices. Basketball rims were even removed to avoid group play.
The rules were so strict that even individual pitching, hitting and fielding with a parent wasn’t allowed. It was crazy.
I think not hitting was the most frustrating. One time, my coach was 15 feet away from me tossing a softball but was told by the local police who were monitoring the fields that it was not allowed. I get that he was only enforcing the rules and it’s not their fault, but it was getting annoying.
Then the big news from school came: classes were cancelled for the rest of year! That is when it hit me hard, that I wouldn’t be able see any of my school friends anymore. I would soon be leaving, but never got to say goodbye. I was able to text, FaceTime and see them in Zoom meetings but that is not the same.
There would be time when my catcher started coming to help and get out of house too. This was some of my best days. To see another friend/person in the flesh, play ball and for an hour a day not think about a mask/social distancing or anything but just softball.
A roller coaster month, even more than before!
Is this ever going to stop! “Phases” of opening occurred and within a two-week time frame, we could go into a restaurant or gym (I started back up at Alpha Sports) only to be shut back down indefinitely.
Then we get told our summer season was cancelled with maybe the last-ditch hope of going to PGF if it stayed open. Even though it would have been after I leave in July, my parents were considering driving back out here to play just one more time with my team but then another blow cam to our family.
My Dad got extended from our expected date to leave of July 2nd to October 31st due to COVID. Ugh...really?!!
“What do we do, now?” we wondered. “Adapt and overcome,” my Dad said.
So, instead of starting school mid-year and hitting softball season (if there was one) halfway through, even though my volleyball season for high school was halfway done, my family (minus Dad) made the decision to move out early.
More on that in a moment, but one of the worst parts was seeing the loss of school graduations! My heart went out to high school seniors who lost their final year of playing softball or any sport. I lost my 8th grade year, but I am so thankful I still have four more years to play.
I continued pitching lessons twice a week and we added a few more players from the team to add fielding drills. The only reassuring thing to us was the rest of the country was in the same situation with no softball… or was it?
The rest of the country… totally was not like us in California and I was so jealous!
Some states were not only opening but having tournaments. This was so hard for us out here on the West Coast. There was an attempt to get a tournament going a few hours away but it got shutdown on Sunday. Before long, word of mouth got out and other local tournaments were cancelled. So frustrating. Then came the final word for our season: done!
Our coach still wanted us to be together and work on our softball, so we did get an agreement to have a once-a-week practice with no more than six people in a group, and we all were socially distanced each practice.
Fortunately, I got to see my teammates and play the game I love with them before I left for Texas. The first practice back a lot of us almost cried when we saw each other. There were some hugs—yes, social distancing went out the window a bit!
With school out of the way, it was a weird time. I was trying to get in as much as I could with my coach in pitching and hitting (we could finally use an indoor facility). I also had to start thinking about softball in Texas. They were playing… and going all out.
I was so relieved to hear this but also very nervous. “How will I stack up with no games since March and these players are going at it each weekend?” I worried.
I did get to have a Zoom meeting with Bailey Watts, the former University of Houston pitcher and a possible pitching coach, and we hit it off right away! I loved her upfront, attack personality… she reminded me of Coach Shay (Shayla Castaneda of the Salinas Storm).
I was looking forward to meeting Coach Bailey in only a few weeks! Before long, it was my FINAL moving time!
July/August 2020 (One Big Blur!)
My last move from Louisiana to California was hard leaving my friends, but three years later, this one was tougher than I ever thought it would be. Some friends of the Salinas Storm family opened up their field so we could have a team scrimmage, which was a kind of going-away party the week before I left.
So many emotions ran through me that night. I was back in the circle even if for an inning or two, hitting live pitching, and laughing/playing with some of the best friends and teammates I have ever had. Parents were hanging out on the sidelines like pre-COVID. They brought out pizza for us after the scrimmage, we took pictures and cried one last time.
My teammates were heading home, and I was leaving mine, but for three hours in early July during a pandemic shutdown, my softball community pooled together for me along with my amazing parents to ensure I had one last great night in the California Softball World.
Thank you to Coaches Rick Monroy, Dave Bauer, Kim Reeder, Thomas Main, and most importantly Coach Shayla Castaneda. I will never forget you guys in California and turning this average young player into a confident athlete on the California diamond!
I remember stating in the last article that the last six months before a move goes fast. I stand corrected--not if it is the middle of a pandemic!
The fast part comes once you hit the road. Leaving my Dad behind was hard; I miss him and our car rides to practices and talks but it’s only for one more month. We talk daily.
So, on July 11th my Mom, little sis, and dog jumped in the car with a U-Haul trailer in tow full of clothes, softball gear and stuff to get us through until October. It wasn’t that bad. We made it in four days and even though there were some long days of my Mom driving she did great handling it all. We stayed at Airbnb’s with pools along the way and made the best of it.
I had so much excitement knowing that I will be living near family, a new school, and our own house instead of renting and moving later. This was our final move and it’s over. I am done moving as a child. It is weird to say since it’s been such a part of my life.
Nerves started to settle in and questions arose like, will I make friends and will my team be as awesome as my last one?
Prior to us moving my Dad did reach out to some teams and set up a few private practices, we hit the ground running with pitching with Bailey and hitting coaches. I really like Bailey and just a few tweaks already and I am feeling more power!
I was set to try out for a few national teams established in Texas. My first tryout went well, I liked the coaches, and realized I can hang. There were some really good players, but I can hang!
Then Day 2 of tryouts, we were heading to College Station for another organization tryout and I told my Mom to stop and turn around. I wanted to go to the Athletics - Mercado tryout.
Their coach, Rick Flores, had met me a few days earlier (my Dad set it up) and I met their catcher (she’s amazing!) and just the vibe and energy felt right. I didn’t want to miss their main tryout. I was offered a position on the team after tryouts and didn’t hesitate—I accepted their offer and I am a pitcher for Athletics Mercado-Bonola 2024!
The funny thing was two days later I went to the makeup/extra tryout for Athletics Mercado to be with the team and get some time in, knock some balls around. Turns out some of my knocked balls went OTF and hit the scoreboard! That pumped me up!
Then later that night, got a call from a coach who saw me hit those home runs. He was part of the organization I was supposed to go to in College Station and wanted me on their team, but I respectfully declined. Still, that feeling of all my hard work paying off and being recognized for it was great!
To top it off, the first team called and wanted to know if we could come back for a closer look. “Well alrighty then!” I thought, “I can compete and I can do this in Texas!”
It was a great weekend and helped calm my nerves… but I know it was only one weekend. Now comes the work.
Add it on top of making the high school volleyball team and my days are loaded right now. High School sports are soooooo different from middle school! A lot more serious and they really don’t want you to do other sports at the same time. However, I am not going to miss my first love of softball, but it will require an insane amount of time management and healthy living/eating to keep up.
I had my first practice with Athletics Mercado and there are some great players on this team, I can see why they finished #11 out of 40 something at the TFL.
I can’t wait to contribute to this team/ organization and help them get to their goal of a TFL Championship next year! To leave California and now be on California-based organization does have its irony.
I can’t wait for his upcoming year.
To all my coaches and family in all locations I have lived—North Carolina, Oklahoma, Nevada, Louisiana, California and now Texas—and all within nine years starting with T-ball, a big, big thank you for helping me along the way. I will see you on the diamond!
Finally, I took two words for granted until recently and have not heard them for seven months, but come my first tournament this fall, I will remember my friends in Cali and everyone else in USA not lucky enough yet to play.
We will play for you and honor those two words: PLAY BALL!
--- Jordyn Stuessy, #39, P, Athletics-Mercado Bonola- 2024