'Big Game Jane' leads Newport Harbor

Daily Pilot Female High School Athlete Of The Week

April 15, 2006|By Dave Thorpe

The Newport Harbor softball team depends heavily on the pitching of Jane Messersmith. Not a ton of teams put the ball in the hands of a sophomore hurler every game, but Messersmith has shown she's more than up to the task.

She led the way as the Newport Harbor softball team won its first Sea View League game, beating Irvine, 3-1. Messersmith hurled a three-hitter and tallied nine strikeouts in the win.

In 77 innings this season, Messersmith has 74 strikeouts and an earned-run average of 1.82 for a young Sailors team trying to mesh into a cohesive unit.


The Sailors were just 1-12-1 in nonleague action. If you take away three rough games against Warren, Northwood and Cathedral, Messersmith's season ERA is only 0.36.

After two Sea View League games, the Sailors are undefeated at 1-0-1 and Messersmith has an ERA of 0.44 in those two games. The tie against Woodbridge on March 31, which was called after nine innings due to darkness, is slated to be resolved April 24 or 26, Newport Harbor Coach Mike Davis said.

While the Sailors are smitten about what she can do for them with her arm, she's just as interested in what she can accomplish with the bat.

Messersmith has two home runs and four doubles so far this season, although her batting average ? under .300 ? is not quite where she wants it to be.

"I probably like hitting just as much as pitching," Messersmith said. "But my hitting is kind of off right now. I've been working hard at it; it's just the mental part. I know I can hit well, I just need to get my confidence level up."

"Jane's batting average is down a bit, but she is always dangerous and is capable of putting the ball over the fence on any occasion," Davis said.

Messersmith grew up playing several different sports along with softball, including soccer, tennis and swimming. She even tried ballet. In the end, she chose to stick with softball.

"I like the competition and the girls are a big part of it ? the friendships," she said.

She started playing travel softball when she was 12. Along with high school softball, she plays for the TNT travel team.

Since joining the varsity softball team at Newport Harbor as a freshman last year, she's earned the moniker "Big Game Jane."

"Jane loves softball and is an intense competitor," Davis said. "She might like to goof around a little and likes kidding with the girls, but once she's in the circle, she's ready to battle. She is a real fighter. She brings a good attitude to the field every time."

What are the keys for her to be successful on the mound?

"My ability to focus and being consistent with my mechanics," Messersmith said.

Messersmith, like the Sailors as a whole, may have started the season slow, but both are picking up steam.

"She had a few rough outings early, but she has started to get in the groove," Davis said. "With her, basically it's a matter of hitting her spots. When she's hitting spots with her curveball, she is very effective and she can throw that pitch behind in the count."

Messersmith was thrilled to help the Sailors win their first league game and said she looks forward to many more.

"It felt good. We all really wanted to win," Messersmith said. "Our goal for the whole season is to do well in league."

With Messersmith leading the way, the Sailors figure to do well in the Sea View League for the next couple of years.

"By the time she's a senior, she'll be anyone's equal on the mound. On a good day, she already is," Davis said. "The sky is the limit for Jane."

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