Going into a game with the Tulsa Eagles fastpitch softball team in June, the girls of the Georgia Impact — Giles team knew someone would have to step up, take on the pressure, and deliver if they were going to get the win. And someone did.
Down by one run in the bottom of the seventh inning, pitcher Jenna Abbott stepped to the plate and belted a game-tying two-run home run.
The momentum gained from that swing was enough to propel the Impact team to a 3-2 victory and earn a spot in the ASA/USA National Tournament in College Station, Texas, which will take place during the first week of August.
Not only did Abbott deliver from the plate but from the circle as well, throwing a complete-game two-hitter to earn the win and propel her team to a third-place finish in the under-16 American Softball Hall of Fame Tournament in Oklahoma City.
Abbott believes performing under such pressure is her greatest strength.
“Pressure makes me play better,” she said. “I tend to put everything on my shoulders and that makes me better.”
The 15-year-old rising sophomore at Dawson County High is no stranger to delivering against stiff competition.
So far this year with the Georgia Impact, Abbott has pitched in 31 games, often against players who are juniors or seniors in high school. She is 22-9 in that stretch with a 2.14 earned run average.
Her performance is paying off in the form of attention from college scouts. With seven pitches at her disposal in the circle and a strong bat from the clean-up position from the plate, Abbott prides herself on being a complete player.
With the Georgia Impact this summer, Abbott is hitting .381 with 45 runs scored, three home runs, 29 RBIs and only 12 strikeouts, putting her in the top 5 in every offensive category on the team.
When not pitching, she spends her time patrolling first base where Impact coach Greg Giles says she is “really very good” but that pitcher is where she excels.
“She has a fastball that is routinely clocked at 64-65 miles an hour, and for a young player that is very good,” Giles said. “She’s developed a screwball and a drop-curve to complement her fastball and change-up. Right now, she is easily one of the top eight pitchers in the state.”
Helping her along the path to be an elite fastpitch player is the fact that she is left-handed.
“As a pitcher, being a lefty gives me a big advantage,” she said. ‘There aren’t many lefties, and it’s harder for a hitter to get used to the breaking pitches coming from that side.”
As a freshman for the Tigers last season, Abbott was among the area’s best, hitting .545 with a slugging percentage of .716 and an on-base percentage of .592. From the mound, she threw 56 innings with a 2.50 ERA. But none of those numbers mean much to Abbott who, by her own admission, doesn’t really look at the statistics but just “goes out and plays and tries hard.”
Trying hard every day to improve requires a lot of dedication, and that is a virtue that Giles believes Abbott has in spades.
“When she came to us four years ago, it was evident that she was a strong athlete with a lot of raw abilities and tremendous potential,” Giles said. “Through her dedication, and her parents’ dedication, she has excelled.”
Jennas’s parents, Jeff and Margaret Abbott, are just as committed as their daughter to insuring her success.
“With her parents bringing her down from Dawson County and taking her to pitching coaches and hitting coaches and to tournaments, it has really helped her to be able to develop all of those raw abilities into one of the top 15-year-old players in the state of Georgia,” Giles said.