MERRILLVILLE | Maybe Jess Adamczyk’s nickname should be “Energizer Bunny” since she keeps going and going and going despite her size – or lack thereof.
And when she hits the ball, it also keeps going and going and going.
Andrean’s sophomore shortstop may be small in stature at just 5-foot-2, 125-pounds, but her stats show she plays much bigger and taller. She has as many home runs (six) as the rest of her teammates combined, including two grand slams, leading to a team-high 23 RBIs in just 12 games.
She also has four doubles, which put together with the home runs has led to an impressive .953 slugging percentage (total bases divided by at-bats) and 1.420 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging).
“She’s got a quick, strong, aggressive swing,” said Andrean coach Brooke Baker-Runyon, a former pitcher who didn’t sound like she would have enjoyed facing Adamczyk. “She’s never half committed to a swing. She’s swinging to hit the ball hard every time.”
Adamczyk had a shorter way to describe herself: “I guess I’m all or nothing.”
Not quite since she has nine singles to go with the home runs and doubles, and just four strikeouts in 45 plate appearances. Whatever mantra Adamczyk follows, it results in her coming through in big moments.
“Coach calls them ‘prime time at-bats’,” she said. “I never give up and always have confidence that I can pick up the team.”
One of those "prime time" situations came in the season opener against defending Class 4A state champion Portage in which she hit two home runs, including a grand slam when the 59ers were trailing by two. They went onto win the game.
Adamczyk lives in Portage and will have a slightly weird moment next Friday, thanks to that homer.
“I hit a grand slam against them and I’ll be going to their prom on Friday,” she said. “I play travel ball with and against some of those girls. It’s a little awkward.”
She also recalls a "prime time" moment from a travel ball tournament last season while playing for the Orland (Ill.) A’s in which she blasted a slam when her team was losing 4-0.
It’s not just Adamczyk’s hitting that impresses her coach.
“She’s like a little fireball,” Runyon said. “On the field she’s always laying out for a ball. I can always count on her for that momentum play. No pep talk is needed to get Jess ready for any situation.”
Does Adamczyk’s size preclude her from playing softball at the next level? Runyon, who starred at Purdue, doesn’t think so, especially since the sophomore has already gotten looks from some colleges.
“There really isn’t a body type for college softball like in basketball or football,” Runyon said. “The way she plays the game makes up for her size and a lot of college coaches are looking for that quick, athletic type of player.”
If it sounds like Runyon is recruiting, it’s not that far from the truth since she’s the pitching coach for the NWI Sox travel team and would love to have Adamczyk playing for that squad.
“That’s where Jess should be playing,” Runyon joked as Adamczyk smiled and said, “Okay coach. I’m not sure if the A’s would like that.”
Before any thoughts of college become more prevalent, though, Adamczyk is focused on leading the 59ers to bigger and better things this season, and starting to be a role model to the eight freshmen on Andrean’s very young varsity roster.
“I want younger players to look up to me,” the budding leader said.
As long as she remains an Energizer Bunny on the field, that shouldn’t be an issue.