Bridget Veltri

When Jessica Rogers steps up to the plate this year she may be the same person that played softball for the Mustangs last year but she is not the same player.

“She has had a break out season at the plate,” head softball coach Jenny Condon said. “Last year she had 12 hits and 58 at bats so far this season she has 43 hits, you can’t even compare her offensive statistics to previous years.”

The kinesiology senior came into this season with a plan. She played in a women’s league over the summer playing up to five games a weekend.

“I think that she has matured as a player and put in a ton of extra time and a lot of hitting is your confidence and believing that you can do it,” Condon said. “She also has done a better job with her pitch selection, she swings at better pitches now.”

Condon said part of Roger’s success this year is she is a slap hitter, meaning she doesn’t hit with a lot of power, and uses her speed to put the ball on the field, forcing the defense to make a play on her.

“One of the biggest keys to Jessica’s success is she is a slapper,” Condon said. “When you have that many tools, you have to decide what you’re going to do at the plate and this year she has been better at committing to her game plan.”

Rogers agrees with her coach.

“I think what has changed for me from previous years is how I approach every at bat,” she said. “This year, before I step in the box I have to have a plan, I think it helps me know what I’m doing and I don’t question it as much.”

Rogers also met with sports psychologist Jeff Troesch.

“We really hashed a lot during those sessions. He focused more on the mental part of the game, what you are thinking and how you approach things,” she said. “You can’t go into the box thinking I need a hit, you would like one, but you don’t need one. It takes a lot of the pressure off.”

Rogers has a ritual that allows her to get into the zone.

“When I step up to bat I outline the front corner of the plate with my bat and then wipe the dirt off of the bat with my other hand, then I step in and hit; it’s a way for me to be focused and calm,” she said. “I also always chew gum in every game, and I hardly chew it off the field. If we have a double header I’ll put like, five pieces in my back pocket.”

Rogers is originally from Santa Maria, which allows her family to come watch her play.

“They have been to all my home games,” she said. “My mom has been traveling to watch this year because it’s my last season.”

After graduation Rogers is planning on becoming a physician’s assistant. But playing softball in college has left its mark on her.

“I am going to miss the competition and the game itself,” she said. “It is such a different feeling playing at this level.”

Rogers may sport the number two on her uniform, but this year she has been playing like she is number one starting every game at center field.

“She has always been really positive and a team player, she has always wanted the team to succeed,” Condon said. “She’s done a great job as a role player and now as a starter.”

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