Jets softball team soars to new heights with another successful season
May 26, 2023
Winning has become contagious for the Jets softball program after wrapping up their fifth 30-plus win season in a row. This year they achieved a remarkable milestone by getting 40 wins for the first time in program history and are back-to-back regional champions.
Head Coach Jamie Vanderburgh along with Assistant Coach Mick Ream has been an integral part of the program for nine years and attributes their sustained success to the program’s culture.
“When I came in, I thought here we go, we’re going to change the program,” she said. “I didn’t realize the underlying culture that was already there. I had to bring in some kids of really high character who said, ‘we’re going to be in the classroom studying and we’re going to take care of business on the weekends’ that were really focused on being good athletes and good students too.”
Setting the tone for success took about a year and a half, Vandenburgh revealed.
“We have five players in second admit programs who are doing their clinicals here in Jackson. We have students who are in Phi Theta Kappa and who are resident mentors so those are the successes I look at. What are these students doing after they leave here so that completion and success that retention is what we’re trying for,” she said.
Back-to-back MVP awards
Emily Breslin from Stockbridge is a third-year student-athlete in the nursing program. She exemplifies the team’s talent and dominance. Breslin established herself as an exceptional pitcher, earning consecutive all-tournament team MVP awards.
“I’ve had a great experience here,” she said. “I come from a small town and being able to know a lot of people here is nice because I don’t know if I could have made it at a big university. I like knowing who my people are.”
Breslin’s mental strength is evident as she doesn’t let the opposing teams affect her performance.
“I don’t let other teams get into my head. Softball is a big cheering thing, and they’ll try to get into your head as a pitcher,” Breslin said. “I actually enjoy it and I think that’s one of my strengths is that they don’t get in my head as easily.”
The appeal of Jackson College
Vandenburgh highlights the factors that attract recruits to Jackson College: competitive scholarships, academics and exceptional housing.
“If there’s a recruit that we really want to get, we’ll get them here on campus early and the dorms usually sell it, because if they go visit other four-year schools our dorms blow the other ones out of the water. The parents are usually like, ‘hey, I didn’t even have a dishwasher in my first apartment’ and that kind of sells them on it and the students see our facilities and what they’re working with and they’re like yes, this is where I want to go.”
Maintaining the success
Savannah Kirk, a second-year player from Holland, Ohio, reflects on the team’s journey to success with their sights set on Nationals.
“We knew what Nationals was like and we knew what it took to get there. So as sophomores we just lead by example,” she said. “We let the freshmen take things and we just did things well and they followed suit.”
Although the Jets’ season ended in South Carolina, they secured a historic victory against Potomac State, marking their first-ever win in the NJCAA College World Series.
“I love this team,” Kirk said. “I’m glad I got to end my career with this team.”
Coach Vandenburgh was named Great Lakes A District Coach of the Year.
Madaline Schornack (Livonia, MI/Adlai E. Stevenson HS), Kate Leach (Jackson, MI/Vandercook Lake HS) and Kylie Yon (Goodrich, MI/Goodrich HS) were also named to the NJCAA Great Lakes District A Softball Championship All-Tournament Team