She may be the only girl on the field, but as far as Port Townsend High School senior Jordyn King is concerned, “I’m just another player out there.”
King’s career as a softball player extends all the way back to her T-ball days, so when both the Port Townsend and Chimacum high school softball programs were canceled this season due to lack of participation, she was not surprised when several of her friends encouraged her to try out for baseball with the boys.
“I’ve had friends saying I should give it a try since sophomore year,” King said.
Fellow PTHS senior Jackson Foster – who plays baseball, basketball and football – suggested it to King this year, and Lamont Thornton, who coaches the Redhawks baseball team, only needed to be convinced King could keep up.
PTHS Athletic Director Lysa Falge added once Thornton and the school district had ensured King’s transition from softball to baseball was allowed by the rules of the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association, there was “no hesitation” in welcoming her to her new team.
“All my teammates have been really encouraging,” King said. “They’ve told me not to be scared to try, even if I might fall short. It helps that I was already part of the boys’ social circles, so I was already good friends with most of them.”
King admitted baseball “moves faster and hits harder” than softball, but she’s been able to adjust by training her arm to make longer throws; this is to compensate for baseball fields being more spread out than softball fields.
“I don’t need any more time to warm up than my teammates,” King said. “I just spend more of that time warming up my arm.”
King and Falge agreed the senior softball turned hardball player has not asked for, or received, any special breaks or dispensations, aside from her own changing area. She still does everything out on the field the boys are expected to do.
“Part of the reason why they’ve welcomed Jordyn so openly is because she’s no different from the rest of the players,” Falge said. “She’s coming on board an already well-qualified team. She doesn’t stand out, because she works effectively as part of the unit as a whole.”
This suits King just fine.
“A lot of times, folks don’t even notice I’m a girl when I’m playing, unless my ponytail is out,” King said.
Why not combine PT and Chimacum softball?
With both the Port Townsend and Chimacum high schools having to cancel their respective softball programs because they did not have enough players, parents have asked PTHS Athletic Director Lysa Falge, “Why not just combine the two teams to meet the minimum roster requirements?”
According to Falge, while combining sports teams made up of individually competing players is relatively simple, it’s more difficult for sports in which teams compete as groups.
“For one thing, it requires several months of prior notice, just for approval,” Falge said. “If we were going to do this, we would have had to start at least six months ago.”
Another drawback of combining the PT and Chimacum softball teams would be that the resulting team would automatically be downgraded from 1A to 2A, “so we wouldn’t even be playing in our own league anymore,” said Falge.
Falge was uncertain whether such a measure would need to be considered in the future, especially since the last time PT canceled its softball program was 2003.