Jordyn Bahl Has National Title Aspirations At Oklahoma
Jordyn Bahl admits she was a little taken away when college letters started flooding her mailbox the summer before her freshman year of high school.
She knew she had a special skill, and could finally start to visualize a future where she was heading off to an elite softball program.
When she committed to the University of Nebraska in 2017, Bahl hadn’t played a high school softball game yet. But when the state school called, Bahl booked her ticket to the Division I level.
Some four years later, Bahl is now committed to the University of Oklahoma and is the reigning Nebraska Gatorade Player of the Year after leading Papillion-LaVista High School to a state title with a 27-0 record in the circle during her junior campaign last fall.
Even with the hype that comes with being Softball America’s No. 1 Player in the class of 2021, she still remembers the feeling of getting those first recruiting letters back in the eighth grade.
"It was just super exciting because I knew I loved the sport and would potentially have the chance to play it after high school," Bahl said. "That’s when I locked down and pretty much focused only on softball."
When Bahl was little, she split her time between a number of different sports. But coming from a sports-driven family, she was attracted to the things her brothers focused on.
Her older brother, by one year, was a pitcher, which drove Bahl to develop her skills in the circle. She’s been working with the same pitching coach since she was eight years old and is coming off a season in which she posted a 0.15 earned run average.
To say she’s one of the premier preps arms in the country is an understatement. She’s put herself in a position to make an immediate impact at Oklahoma in two seasons.
At Oklahoma, Bahl is coming into a program that has won three national titles since 2013 and has one of the top softball minds at the helm in Patty Gasso.
"I want to be at a place where there’s a culture and you’re more than just a softball player," Bahl said. "When I went on my visit, they checked all those boxes. Obviously, they’re a successful program, but they’re also outstanding off the field as individuals building a culture and you as a person. That was a really important thing to me."
It’s easy to get caught up in the accolades that come with being a successful softball player. There’s the records, the state titles, the impressive showings at travel softball tournaments and other honors. But Bahl has never taken any of it for granted. If the COVID-19 pandemic has shown her anything, it’s that the little things in life can be taken away quickly.
"I have great coaches and a great family that made me understand from a young age that one person’s success in a team sport happens because of the team," Bahl said. "With that in my mind, I’ve been appreciative of my teammates and I’ve been surrounded by great players. I think understanding that helps you not get caught up in it individually."
Nebraska has never been one of the most highly regarded states for prep softball in comparison to Texas, Florida and California, but Bahl wants to change that. Nebraska is one of the few states in the country that plays softball in the fall, meaning it played last season without any trouble from the virus. It also means that Bahl's senior season will come with a certain amount of caution.
If fall high school softball takes place this year, Bahl will lead a team in search of the program’s 16th state title and her third in four years.
"A lot of the girls on my club team are on my school team," Bahl said. "It’s a core group. So in the summer, we get to wear 'Nebraska' across our chests and go play against these teams. That puts Nebraska on the map. Then to have that group go play for the same high school team also helps make a name for Nebraska."
With the world’s present issues, softball has often taken a back seat these days, which has been difficult but not impossible for Bahl.
"One of the biggest things that softball has taught me is that I’m way more than a softball player," Bahl said. "Early in my high school years I struggled a lot with identity and thinking that I was just a softball player. But the game in itself has taught me that that’s not true. It’s been a part of me maturing as a person."
Bahl has aspirations to coach softball in the future. But before that, comes her college playing career. The pinnacle of that experience for Bahl would be making a trip, or multiple, to Oklahoma City for the Women’s College World Series with the Sooners.
"It’s been one of my goals since I was a little girl to play in a Women’s College World Series and to win a national title," Bahl said. "It would be awesome, especially for all those little girls in the Midwest who have the same dreams that I do. To show them that it can happen."