When you’ve been playing softball since the age of three, it’s hard to imagine a life without the sport.
Luckily for Jasper’s Amanda Darrow, she doesn’t have to.
Darrow still has one season of softball remaining for the Eagles this spring, and when she’s finished, she’ll take her talents to the next level, as Darrow has signed to play softball for Neosho County Community College.
“I’m really excited for it,” Darrow said Thursday after school. “Pretty early on, probably in junior high, I knew I wanted to play softball as long as I could and college is just the next step.”
Darrow said she reached the decision last summer, and also considered the University of Central Missouri and Missouri Southern, but not Pittsburg State.
“Pitt State wasn’t on my radar because my mom went to Missouri Southern,” she said.
In the end, Neosho County had all the things Darrow was looking for.
“This one has what I want academically and the campus fits me pretty well because it’s in a small town and I’m from a small town,” she said.
Darrow plans on majoring in criminal justice with a minor in psychology, both of which are offered there.
At Jasper, Darrow has started at shortstop for three seasons, and head coach David Osborne said it’s a safe bet she’ll be starting there again this spring.
“She’s a very hard-nosed player, a very tough player,” he said. “She’s a great hitter. She’s been a starting shortstop for four years, and that’s a fairly important position where we generally put our best athletes, so to put her there for four years speaks very highly of her.”
As good as she’s been at the position, shortstop may not even be her first preference. Osborne said she started her Jasper career at catcher, but the shortstop position wasn’t working out, so he flipped a few people and she’s been at shortstop ever since.
“She truthfully wants to play catcher, but for our team right now, it’s best for the team if she’s playing shortstop,” Osborne said. “Since she’s been here we’ve always had an adequate catcher, and she’s been more valuable to us at shortstop.”
No matter the position, Osborne said Darrow is a very well-rounded player, and her career statistics show just that. In three seasons, Darrow has played in 49 games and stepped up to the plate 182 times. She has 56 hits, 63 runs, 42 singles, eight doubles and six triples. She’s drawn 44 walks in her career, while striking out just 19 times, has stolen 22 bases and has batted .406 with a .604 career on-base percentage.
Page 2 of 3 - In the field, Darrow has had 105 defensive chances at shortstop, and has made just 14 errors. That’s a fielding percentage of 87 percent.
“As far as fielding goes, she makes the routine plays, as she should, and then there’s some excellent plays she makes,” Osborne said. “Generally, I have to pull her back, especially in practice, because she’ll be diving for a ball we probably don’t want her diving at in practice anyways and getting hurt.”
Of course, there’s a lot more to Darrow than just the softball player. Osborne said she’s very faith-based, and he can’t recall ever hearing her swear.
“She comes from a Christian family, a hard-working family,” Osborne said. “Her mom works at the school. She’s always willing to help out. She likes to read a lot. I’ve had her in class several years and she’s an A student, of course. As far as academics, I think she’ll be prepared for college and I think it’ll work out for her.”
And on the field, there’s no disputing she’s a special talent.
As a freshman, she played in 15 games and batted .382 through 45 at-bats, and had an on-base percentage of .533. She drew 11 walks and struck out just five times, and scored 14 runs for the Eagles. She added an amazing .920 fielding percentage, committing just two errors in 25 chances. In 2010 she increased her batting average to .406 and her on-base percentage to .604 while collecting 13 hits, 16 walks and 16 runs to just three strikeouts. She stole six bases and committed only five errors in 27 fielding chances.
By her junior season last spring, the numbers only grew. She scored 33 runs, collected 30 hits, including six doubles and two triples, drew 17 walks and struck out 11 times. She batted .417 and had a .640 on-base percentage. She stole 14 bases and drove in 13 runs, and committed just seven errors in 53 chances at shortstop.
Darrow’s personal highlights include a come-from-behind win against Galena, and an umblemished conference record.
“We were down 7-0 with two outs and we won 9-7,” she said. “We went undefeated in conference, that was pretty awesome.”
The approaching conclusion to her high school career does bring with it a little bit of sadness, even though it’s not the conclusion of her softball career.
“I don’t want it to end,” she said. “This season I want to go undefeated again in conference and I want to keep my batting average pretty high and just have fun.”
And Darrow likes her team’s chances.
“Our team is pretty good so we’ve just got to play our game,” she said. “We have a pretty awesome pitcher, our infield is pretty strong, we have a fast outfield and our hitting is okay.”
Page 3 of 3 - Jasper begins its season March 19 at Crane.