Alabama Native Ready To Lead Lipscomb In Tuscaloosa Regional
Growing up in Camden, in the southern part of Alabama, Lipscomb University senior pitcher Mandy Jordan was raised to bleed the colors burnt orange and navy blue of her family's beloved Auburn Tigers.
Although she spent much of her life rooting against the archrival Alabama Crimson Tide, her softball journey has actually included trips to Tuscaloosa to see games at the vaunted Rhoads Stadium, the site of clearly one of the most intense and crazed softball atmospheres in all of college softball.
And now Jordan, the Most Valuable Player of the recent Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament, finds herself preparing to actually engage in battle on the Crimson Tide's home field.
Lipscomb (41-13-1) is one of four teams that will compete in the NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional this weekend, along with Arizona State, Alabama State and Patrick Murphy's host Alabama squad.
The Lady Bisons, coached by Kristin Ryman, will battle Arizona State Friday at 3 p.m. in the first game of the regional. Alabama, the overall No. 8 seed in the NCAA tourney, will then face Alabama State at 5:30.
Jordan, who in 30 overall appearances and 21 starts for Lipscomb in 2019 compiled an 18-7 record and an earned run average of 1.81 along with four saves, said Wednesday she is very excited about the upcoming regional.
"We are really excited and we are about to go to practice here at the school before we leave (for Tuscaloosa Wednesday night and practice at Rhoads Stadium Thursday morning)." Jordan said. "We are really excited about where we're going to play, who we're going to play and we can't wait to get started."
She said the fact that her Lady Bisons were sent to the Tuscaloosa Regional was a bit of a surprise.
"We thought that they were probably going to send us to Knoxville (Tennessee) again because it's convenient and that is where (the Lady Bisons) went the last time," Jordan said. "We've played in Knoxville so many times and I was just sitting there saying I want to play anywhere and why don't we go somewhere that I haven't played. We're excited, but I was thinking, my dad and my mom and the whole family really are Auburn fans and I grew up an Auburn fan and I spent more time at Auburn than I did at home sometimes. My parents were going, 'Anywhere but Tuscaloosa, Anywhere but Tuscaloosa.'"
Having been to games at Rhoads Stadium in the past, including a previous tournament that Lipscomb participated in on that field, Jordan, who played high school ball at Wilcox Academy, said she is well aware of the atmosphere created by Alabama fans. Now she said she is looking forward to competing at that fabled venue.
"I am excited," she said. "We've played in atmospheres that are very similar and we played at Florida State at the beginning of the season, and those fans are crazy. And we all know that Alabama fans can get crazy too so it's always more fun when the fans get into it. I am excited to see how we do in that type of atmosphere because we all know how intense Rhoads Stadium can be."
Jordan, herself, dealt with a frustrating elbow injury that affected her performance much of last season as well as a November surgery on that ailing elbow.
However she has been a recent workhorse in the circle for Lipscomb in its last handful of games or so, including the Atlantic Sun tourney, and said she feels very positive about her team's level of play entering Friday's regional.
"You know we're playing really well right now," she said. "We've won 20 of our last 21 games, and we've done really well. We've been putting the bat on the ball and our defense has been playing really well behind myself and the rest of the pitching staff. I'm really excited to see how we do against a Power 5 team when we are playing this well. I know that Arizona State is traditionally a very good program, and I know they have very good coaches and they're going to put the bat on the ball. It's going to be a defensive-type game for us and we're going to put the bat on the ball too and see how much we can fight back with them."