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NSAA State Softball First-Round Games, 10.10.18

Papillion-La Vista's Jordyn Bahl winds up against Lincoln North Star during a state softball tournament first-round game in October at the Smith Softball Complex in Hastings.

Jordyn Bahl shows no fear in the circle. She's super-competitive, throws very hard and hits her spots.

The most recent illustration of that combination came in the Metro Tournament semifinals and championship game, a pair of contests played Monday in Omaha.

Bahl, a junior at Papillion-La Vista, struck out 17 batters and allowed only one hit against Omaha Marian, and the Monarchs won 2-0. A couple of hours later, Bahl pitched a four-inning no-hitter against Gretna. She struck out nine and Papio won 10-0.

"She was just on fire," Papillion-La Vista coach Todd Petersen said.

Bahl has been on fire all season.

She has pitched 66 1/3 innings and has yet to give up an earned run. She has 144 strikeouts and teams are hitting only .049 against her.

.049!

To those who follow softball, those are eye-popping numbers. To Bahl, they're just numbers. The credit goes to her team.

"I'm not really paying attention to that," Bahl said. "When you have that comfortableness (with your team), it's a lot easier to do your job.

"The girls behind you, they're diving and making awesome plays for each other and our lineup comes through when it needs to for each other. We don't focus on personal stats. We're just doing what we have to do for each other."

Bahl, a two-time first-team Super-Stater, made an immediate impact for the Monarchs as a freshman, splitting innings in the circle with Courtney Wallace, who is now a sophomore at Nebraska. Bahl took on a bigger workload as a sophomore. She finished 24-2 with a 1.73 earned-run average.

Then she got even better.

Bahl, who played varsity basketball as a freshman, made the decision to focus solely on softball after last fall. That allowed her more time for weight training, mental training, visualization and pitching, including work with her longtime pitching coach Darren Dubsky.

"There's a big difference," Bahl said. "When you come home from a basketball practice and you're already tired and then you go and throw in the basement. You get a lot more quality workouts in when you go in ready 100% focused on what you're going do be doing."

A big summer with her club team, Nebraska Premier Gold, followed and it has carried over into the fall. Bahl has more movement to her pitches and she has excelled in pitch location, which is leading to an average of a little more than two strikeouts per inning.

Bahl can hit, too. She's batting .520 with 11 extra-base hits, and Petersen said she's an outstanding infield defender when she's not pitching.

It all helped pave the road to Norman, Oklahoma, home to one of the best softball programs in the country. Bahl loved the town during her official visit last weekend. She watched practice and how the players interacted with each other and saw "an amazing culture."

Before leaving Norman, Bahl knew. She wanted to play for Patty Gasso and the Sooners.

"I just felt like the Lord said, 'Yeah, this is it,'" said Bahl, who is ranked the 18th-best softball recruit in the 2021 class by Softball America. "That was it. That was the one. I could have visited other places that sure would have been amazing also, but when you know, you know."

The weekend commitment capped an eventful process for Bahl, who committed to Nebraska when she was 14. She de-committed during the summer, wanting to take a more thorough approach to the recruiting process.

The who's who of Division I softball powerhouses — OU, Florida, UCLA, Minnesota, Texas, Oregon and Alabama to name some — watched Bahl at several tournaments, as well as the Bellevue East tournament in August.

"I think she handled it really well," Petersen said of the recruiting attention. "She's out there playing the game, having fun and doing what she does best. I don't think she ever really let that get to her."

The top-ranked Monarchs are 20-0 this year, and there's a new level of focus after the team fell short of a state title and a perfect season last year. Many players are back from that team, including Super-Staters Brooke Dumont and Mia Jarecke. The Monarchs also are receiving a spark from Bishop Neumann transfer Maggie Vasa atop the lineup.

"We're taking every game seriously and every practice seriously, and not that we didn't last year, but it's just a different level of intensity that everybody on the team has," Bahl said.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-2639 or cgrell@journalstar.com. On Twitter @LJSSportsGrell.

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