The Mercer Bears’ softball team is doing quite well as of late behind some stellar play from Bears all over the diamond. However, the Bears have begun to rely on freshman Jessica Holsinger for some pitching magic every time she gets on the mound.
The Bears are currently at 19-13, but without Holsinger’s play, they would be a paltry 10-11. Her 9-2 record in 16 appearances speaks for itself, but she also has 72 strikeouts to show she doesn’t just rely on her teammates to make plays, because she can take hitters down on her pitching alone.
Amazingly, this girl is an underdog story. The Bears can thank the coach who put her down years ago as part of her inspiration. When asked for what it means to her to be playing Division I softball at Mercer, she said “It means a ton. I’ve been dreaming of playing ever since I was a little girl. When I was younger, I was even told by a college coach that I would never pitch Division I softball. That motivated me, and I not only worked to prove her wrong, but I worked to prove that my dreams could come true. It’s a great experience to share with my teammates knowing that they share the same dream and desire that I do!” Obviously, she is playing and playing well.
In order to play well, Holsinger has little things that she does to keep her head up during the game and playing at that high level necessary. When asked about pregame rituals, Holsinger said that “depending on the team we play, I write the ‘word of the day’ on my wrist for every game day. These are words like focus, dominate, and represent. Also, I have quotes written in my glove for when I need a reminder if I’m down while pitching.” These have worked well so far.
Of course, 19-13 reflects more of a non-conference tilt because they have just begun Atlantic Sun play. However, Jessica is looking ahead to certain opponents more than others. “Well I heard Jacksonville and Lipscomb are really good, so it will definitely be a great challenge and test to see what we’ve been working at all season!”
Finally, Holsinger said that one person did inspire her to play as well as she could. Jessica has been playing at a high level for a long time. The Eagle, Idaho native won a state title and three district titles while lettering all four years and captaining three of them. However, she was inspired to this by her neighbor: “Well, the reason I started pitching was because of my next door neighbor Joni Cook. Joni got a full ride to the University of Utah. She’s been my role model ever since I was a little girl.”
All of this translates into a gameday atmosphere. Now, many gamedays are doubleheaders, so Jessica walks through her typical day:
“I go to breakfast in the cafeteria before my 9:00 AM New Testament class. Usually after that class we go to weights at 10:00 AM, but if it’s a game day, I make up my study hall hours at that time, for I have study hall at night and can’t make it when I’m pitching. After study hall, which is around 12:00 PM, I go to lunch with my teammates either in the cafeteria or at the UC food court. Then, I usually go to the training room to do treatment on my arm or fix any tweaks before my 2:00 PM psychology class. Usually, I leave that in a hurry to make it to my game to warm up on time. A doubleheader gameday is at 4:00 PM and 6:00 PM. When the game is over around 8:30 or 9:00 PM, the team goes to Moe’s Southwest Grill to eat and celebrate some hard-fought wins!”