Few players have awaited the start of the new softball season more than Jordan Schepps, the senior pitcher for Stamford High School.
And if you had to rank the players in the FCIAC who will be most integral to their team’s success, Schepps would be high on the list.
That sounds like a heavy burden to put on a high school athlete. It is also one that Schepps shakes off with the ease of someone who doesn’t like the pitch call from her catcher.
“There’s always pressure,” Schepps said. “But I don’t feel like it’s all on me. I want to do well. We have good players on the team. I know if I don’t do well, they will back me up.”
If hard work translates into success, there will be a 10 month umbilical cord linking Schepps back to last June. After spending a good deal of the regular season as a reliever, Stamford coach Tony Esposito elevated her into the starting role for the postseason.
Schepps was outstanding in the state tournament, first shutting out South Windsor, 2-0, then losing a pitchers’ duel, 1-0, to top-ranked Southington in the second round. The run was unearned.
“It was so exciting and showed the team how much potential we had,” said Schepps, who is steadfast in refusing to talk about herself. “It was a good ending, but it was definitely not about the end.”
Schepps, encouraged by her results, stepped up her offseason work. She said on average she threw about two to three times a week since October — in typical Schepps fashion, she was quick to point out that Christina Joannou, the Black Knights’ other pitcher, put in the same time.
Esposito is encouraged by what he has seen from Schepps since practices began two weeks ago.
“She’s been working since the summer really hard,” Esposito said. “Last year had to be a motivator, had to be a confidence builder. To throw that kind of game against a team like that. She’s going to be our starter and we have all the faith in the world in her. We are really looking for big things from her.”
Esposito said he has noticed a difference in Schepps’ mental approach as well as her physical performance.
“Jordan is very confident in her ability,” he said. “I’ve seen that in the scrimmages. If there is a runner on second or third she really bears down.”
Schepps is one of five seniors in the Black Knights’ starting lineup, and she has earned praise from the team’s highest profile player.
“She looks great,” said Stamford shortstop Krista Robustelli. “She doesn’t get nervous. Hard situations don’t affect her. We have so much confidence playing behind her.”
Schepps said she still thinks back to the Southington game. She said she can remember virtually every pitch.
With the Black Knights looking to take the step from a very good team to a championship contender, they will send to the mound for Wednesday’s season opener against Fitch a pitcher with the perfect makeup for what lies ahead.
“It’s exciting,” Schepps said. “Christina and I feel the best we have in a while. We’re definitely anxious to start.”