Jailyn Ford Earns MVP Honors In NPF Championship Series
ROSEMONT, Ill. – On paper, Jailyn Ford wasn't supposed to be named the Most Valuable Player of the 2019 National Pro Fastpitch Championship Series. Ford—who recorded a win, two saves and 15 strikeouts this week in her USSSA Pride's three-game sweep over the Chicago Bandits for the 2019 Cowles Cup—is not the biggest name from the most highly-touted college program on her star-studded NPF team.
But one thing the game doesn't particularly care about is who is supposed to be or do anything, especially with a championship on the line. What the game does care about, however, is who rises to the occasion when called upon in the biggest moments.
And Ford did just that this week against the Bandits, the NPF's regular-season champions. The James Madison product, who competed collegiately in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) outside of the NCAA's Power Five conferences, was lights out in all three of her appearances against Chicago in the Championship Series.
"Jailyn shows that no matter where you come from, as long as you work hard and you're coachable, you can do anything," Ford's former college teammate and current Pride comrade Megan Good told Softball America on Saturday.
"I was just playing the game like I know how to," Ford said to Softball America following USSSA's title-clinching win over Chicago. "I knew that whenever my name was going to be called, I was going to be ready. I was focused on my role and made sure I was ready in those situations."
The four-year NPF veteran, who spent her first two seasons in professional softball as a member of the now-defunct Akron Racers, was acquired by the Pride ahead of the 2018 campaign. Since then, she has become an integral part of the pitching staff for the two-time defending Cowles Cup champions.
"She has gotten even better in the NPF," Good added. "I'm so happy for her. I always looked up to her throughout my college career. Now, being on the same team as her in the NPF, it's so cool to see her succeed."
Ford, the first All-American in the history of James Madison's softball program, attributes much of her growth as a pitcher to her time spent playing professionally overseas during the NPF offseason. She has competed in the Japan Softball League since 2017.
"It's huge," Ford said about her ability to play in Japan. "It keeps me in the game playing competitively. I'm practicing, playing and training all year round. That gets me ready for this league and helps me be ready to face some of the top players in the world."
Ford was clearly ready for the Pride's 2019 campaign. She posted a 7–4 record for USSSA in the regular season with a 1.93 ERA and 68 strikeouts in 61.2 innings of work.
As she now prepares to shift her focus from the NPF to the second half of the JSL season this fall, Ford is reflective about her growth over the past few years. She is also grateful for the opportunity she's had to serve as an inspiration to current college players who compete for lesser-known programs.
"I hope that I can be somebody to look up to," Ford said. "You don't have to go to a Power Five school to be able to make it as a pro. You just have to work hard and be a good teammate."