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Those Gatorade folks tried their darndest.
Papillion-La Vista graduate Jordyn Bahl learned Monday she was selected as the Gatorade national softball player of the year. And 30 minutes later it was time to do some interviews.
The first was a one-on-one Zoom call with a Gatorade representative to prepare a video that would be used with the official announcement.
Near the end of that 15-minute session, they wanted Bahl to say “Jordyn Bahl, 2020-2021 Gatorade National Softball Player of the Year” to close the piece. The only caveat, they wanted her to say it with attitude.
There were five different takes, a couple of those because Bahl said a few words out of the preferred order. The final take had a little extra energy and a smile, but not the hoped-for level of pizzazz.
Having not met Bahl before Monday’s ceremony, they didn’t understand Bahl doesn’t carry the competitive attitude she shows on the softball field with her when the game is over. Faking an attitude, even for an 11-word tag line, isn’t how the Oklahoma recruit is comfortable presenting herself.
“Just knowing how many awesome players there are across the country, even on my own team, it’s a huge honor,” Bahl said. “I’m really thankful and blessed that my parents have made sacrifices to let me play ball at a high level.”
Bahl, who also was named the Nebraska softball player of the year for the second consecutive season last week, is just the second athlete from Nebraska in any sport to be named national player of the year. The other was another Papillion-La Vista alum, Gina Mancuso for volleyball in 2008-09.
After playing four games Sunday in a club tournament her team won in Kansas City, Bahl came to the Papio’s north gym believing it was a ceremony just for the state honor.
That was until her parents, Dave and Emily, all four grandparents and Bahl’s three brothers came around the corner of the bleachers carrying the national trophy.
Completely caught off-guard, Bahl was understandably overcome with emotion, a combination of surprise and excitement. That eventually led to a few tears of joy when her teammates came out to share congratulations and hugs.
With the photos and interviews that followed, Bahl asked that a photo shoot be pushed back because she was exhausted and drained from everything that had unfolded in the previous two hours.
Bahl received the award not just for her excellence on the field, but also for volunteer work she has done for organizations such as the Open Door Mission, the Salvation Army, a local food bank and a softball program for disabled children.
Papillion-La Vista defeated North Platte 12-0 in three innings to earn its 16th Class A state softball championship.
The Monarchs posted a 36-0 record the past two seasons while winning back-to-back Class A state softball championships. A four-time All-Nebraska selection by The World-Herald, Bahl was 27-0 with a 0.10 ERA in 2020, allowing just 27 hits and 15 walks in 137 innings pitched with 316 strikeouts. She also batted .510 with 20 home runs and 55 RBIs.
Monarchs coach Todd Petersen said Bahl is a deserving recipient of the award not only for those statistical reasons, but because she has always been a selfless teammate.
“The obvious things are she’s an incredible athlete with an amazing work ethic,” Petersen said. “When you start looking at the little things she does off the field when people aren’t watching — giving back to her community, setting up equipment for practice, giving autographs to little girls over and over and over — those are things that also make her special.
“She has her priorities in line. The strength of her family, her faith, those are things that make it why she’s at that level that would make her national winner and not just a state winner.”
Bahl said she wanted to play softball since she was a little girl, drawing early inspiration from watching her brothers play baseball. Now she’s the nation’s No. 1 recruit from the 2021 class and preparing to spend the next four years at Oklahoma.
“I fell in love with the team part of it, the practicing part of it,” Bahl said. “It’s exciting because they’re (Oklahoma) not losing that many players. So I’m going to get to work with girls who have already accomplished my dream.
“I’m going to get to learn from those veterans, learn from an amazing coaching staff and that’s just going to help build me as a person.”
Bahl has always portrayed a competitive image to young girls who watch her play and how she carries herself on and off the field. She wants to positively contribute to the growth of the sport.
“It’s just generating more fans, younger girls watching on TV are setting the bar higher, setting their goals higher,” Bahl said. “I just want little girls out there, especially from Nebraska and from the Midwest, to see that just because you’re from the Midwest and not from a huge softball state that you’re not confined to anything.
“Your hard work and your dreams can still take you as far as you want.”
Going from not sure there will be a season to historic championship game routs, the 2020 softball campaign showcased some of the best high school players fans have ever seen.