Confident Seneca pacing Plum softball at plate, in field
There was a time when Jordan Seneca handled negativity with a kick and cloud of dust. A fielding error or groundout often was followed by obvious signs of discouragement and frustration.
“This year is a lot better,” said Seneca, a junior shortstop on the Plum softball team. “I have matured a lot. I recover more if I start to seem down or make a mistake. If I bobble one, I don't pout about it.
“College coaches don't want a negative player. They want a strong, confident one.”
An example of Seneca's mental growth came in last Saturday's loss to McKeesport. After her first strikeout of the season, she recovered with poise.
“I knew I could let it go,” Seneca said. “Before, I might miss every grounder after that or keeping popping out. But I singled the next time.”
Seneca's confidence has shown, especially at the plate where she compressed the softball to the tune of a .750 batting average (21 for 28) through Plum's 10-0 win over Oakland Catholic on Monday.
She had 15 extra-base hits, including a career-best five home runs.
She's gone from moping around the dugout to roping around the bases.
Plum (8-2, 7-1) has a new, on-campus field this season, and the Mustangs are 5-1 in five home games.
Seneca belted a three-run homer in her fifth plate appearance at the fresh venue.
Of her 90 career hits through Monday's game, 44 are for extra bases, including 30 doubles.
“Her big thing, and she's an A-plus player, is that she works extremely hard,” Plum coach Jim McGrath said. “And if she finds weakness in something, she works through it and gets it corrected.
“She'll get frazzled once in a while in high-pressure games, but she keeps going forward, not backward.”
Guidance, Seneca said, has been a key to better dealing with adversity.
“I have had a lot of help from my parents and teachers; they have helped me through stuff and personal situations,” she said.
Seneca is one of the fastest players in Plum's section, but her power allows McGrath to bat her third in the order.
A third-year starter, Seneca was the leadoff hitter for her first two varsity seasons.
“I like batting at the top because you're the first one on base,” she said. “But I also like third because you can knock people in.”
McGrath knows he can pencil Seneca into the lineup with the permanence of purple Sharpie.
“The reasons she's third is because she gets a lot of RBI,” McGrath said. “She's fast and is a very smart base-runner, but she has a good stick, too.”
Seneca has plenty of college interest from all levels. But she has narrowed her choices to three: Akron, Kent State and St. Francis (Pa.). She hopes to have her decision made early in the summer.
She said she enjoyed a visit to St. Francis on Sunday and felt it “would be a great fit.”
Seneca admitted she's not a fan of the recruiting process, but she knows it's necessary to find the right fit.
“I love playing softball,” she said. “Once I commit to a school, I have to work even harder every day to prepare to be my best when I get to college.”
Seneca, who plays travel softball for the Pittsburgh Gold team, comes from an athletic family. Her father, Rudy, played baseball and basketball in high school, one of two brothers to play sports at Penn Hills.
Rudy is a WPIAL basketball official.
Paul Seneca, a third brother, played baseball at Central Catholic and Pitt.
Rematch on horizon
Weather permitting, Plum is in the middle of a stretch of seven games in nine days. Oakland Catholic and Penn Hills started the week on Monday and Tuesday, respectively.
Plum defeated Oakland Catholic, and Tuesday's game with the Indians ended past the deadline for this week's edition.
The Mustangs host Allderdice in section play on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. and visit Penn-Trafford in a nonsection contest Friday at 4 p.m. before Saturday's big section rematch at McKeesport at noon.
“They would rather play games than practice,” McGrath said. “Any team does.”
Plum's lone loss in section came at the hands of the Tigers, 5-1, on April 13.
“The girls are set for Saturday's game,” McGrath said.
“They are looking for revenge. It should be a good game.”
McKeesport junior pitcher Jess Beitler limited a powerful Plum lineup to four hits in the first game, and she struck out nine.
“Jess Beitler has really stepped it up this year,” McGrath said. “She has some really good movement on her ball. It was one of those games.”
Senior Savannah Zummo homered for Plum's lone run in the loss.
Friday's game with Penn-Trafford, McGrath said, should be good for the team heading into Saturday.
Penn-Trafford is in Section 1 with Franklin Regional, and they suffered a 6-1 loss to the Panthers in their first meeting on April 6.
Trib Total Media staff writer Michael Love contributed to this report.
Bill Beckner is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com.