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Southland's Jordan Zolman signs to play softball at the University of Missouri

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Staff Photo by Dustin Ward
Southland's Jordan Zolman signed her national letter of intent to play softball at the University of Missouri Saturday. Pictured are participants in Saturday's signing ceremony at the Southland High School gymnasium. Pictured left to right is Jordan's parents Kathy and Ritchard Zolman, Jordan Zolman and Southland softball coach Johnny McMinn.
CARDWELL, Mo. - Southland's Jordan Zolman started playing softball on traveling teams in the Missouri Bootheel in 2002 when she was just eight-years-old.

Staff Photo by Dustin Ward
Southland softball coach Johnny McMinn (right) speaks at the signing ceremony Saturday.
"Both of my parents were real athletic and they kind of introduced it to me," Zolman said. "I used to play basketball and volleyball, but never really got into it like softball. As soon as I started playing softball it became like a life goal to get out there and play more, get better and get to a top college. It has escalated into what it is today."

Zolman moved one step closer to playing softball at a top college Saturday afternoon when she signed her national letter of intent to play softball at the University of Missouri in Columbia in the 2013-14 season.

"Mizzou was one of my top picks and has been a dream school since day 1," Zolman, who was recruited by multiple Division 1 programs in the United States said. "All the other offers couldn't hold up to it. Their program is amazing and the coaches made you part of their family immediately."

Staff Photo by Dustin Ward
Jordan Zolman looks on with her family at the signing ceremony Saturday at the Southland High School Gymnasium.
A signing ceremony was held at the Southland High School gymnasium Saturday afternoon. Southland principal and softball coach Johnny McMinn spoke to the community about the significance of the signing at the ceremony.

"Jordan and her parents have both worked very hard over the past several years for her to reach this point," McMinn said at the ceremony. "Today all that work is about to pay off as she will be accepted into one of the elite colleges in the nation in both academics and softball - the University of Missouri.

"The coaching staff at Missouri is willing to take a chance after seeing very little of Jordan's ability," McMinn continued. "I've coached her for the past four years and can reinsure them they are getting the best this area has to offer. Jordan is not only the most talented athlete I have coached, she is the most talented high school athlete I have ever seen. There is no doubt in my mind she will excel in Columbia, just as she has at every other stop along her path to college."

Zolman, who is a senior at Southland High School in Cardwell, Mo., has left her mark on the Southland softball program since the day she stepped onto their diamond.

Staff Photo by Dustin Ward
Southland spectators at the Jordan Zolman signing ceremony at the Southland High School gymnasium Saturday.
The Southland softball program went 15-0 during Zolman's freshman season in 2010. Zolman batted .653 with 34 RBIs and nine home runs during her freshman season. She also threw five shutouts, two no-hitters, calculated 151 strikeouts and had a 1.40 ERA.

"My freshman year I never in a million years dreamed we would go undefeated," Zolman said. "We went 15-0."

Zolman has continued to put up impressive numbers since. She had a .641 batting average with 26 RBIs and seven home runs in 2011. She struck out 136 and had a 1.76 ERA in 2011.

"She's had two or three multi-home run games," McMinn said. "It's hard to pinpoint one thing she has done because she has done so much in every game we play. One player doesn't make a team. I agree with that. But it sure makes it a lot easier when you have a player like her."

In 2012 Zolman batted .837 with 11 home runs and 32 RBIs. She struck out 230 in the circle and had a 2.09 ERA.

"The University of Missouri is one of the elite softball schools," McMinn said. "They've made the college World Series two of the last three years. She's going to get some national attention playing at Mizzou."

"Jordan is a really good kid, regardless of the softball," McMinn continued. "She's a good student and a good person period. This couldn't happen to a better person and a better family. We are glad she decided to stay in school here for four years, congratulate her on her accomplishments and wish her the best of luck."

Southland has won the Tri-County Conference spring softball tournament all three seasons Zolman has been in high school. Southland finished 10-3 in 2011 and 16-2 in 2012.

Zolman has not had the opportunity to compete in postseason play during her high school career. The state softball playoffs take place in the fall and the only school in the Missouri Bootheel with a fall softball program is Portageville.

"It is. It's very frustrating," Zolman said, when asked if she wished she had a chance to play in a district tournament. "I know we could give teams a run for their money in the state playoffs and represent Southland well."

Zolman, who has served as the primary pitcher at Southland, expects to play the infield at Mizzou.

"Mainly here at Southland I'm the pitcher and a power hitter," Zolman said. "At Mizzou I'll likely play third base and hit more than pitch."

Zolman said she believes it will be an easy transition to move from pitcher to third base. There is one thing Zolman said she does believe she will miss about playing softball in Dunklin County, however

"Definitely the small town," Zolman said. "I know everyone is ready to get out of a small town, but I love it here. Everyone is like a family and everyone is so close. I'm going to miss everything about this town."

Zolman said she plans to pursue a sports-related career at the University of Missouri.

"I've thought about sports medicine," Zolman said. "I want to pursue a sports-related career. One of my best friends went into that field and I see some of the things she does. It just seems like something I could do."

Zolman remains thankful for everyone in the community who has helped her reach her goals.

"I'd like to thank everyone for their support and encouraging me to play at the college level," Zolman said. "They've really helped me get everything I needed down here."


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