Everything was falling into place for Jordyn Van Metre’s senior season of softball at Northwest Christian School in Phoenix.
The Surprise resident finally got to play with her sister, Kianna, a freshman. And her father, Kirk, moved up from assistant coach to the Crusaders’ head coach.
Plus the team was coming off its first playoff berth since 2014 and loaded up to make a deeper run in 3A this year.
“This year was definitely a year that I was looking forward to, from the first day of tryouts I knew that we had so much potential. Our team immediately bonded really well and we were all so excited for an amazing season. I would definitely say even though it was cut short, this was one of my favorite seasons. I know that we had the potential and drive to make it a long way in the playoffs,” Jordyn Van Metre stated in an email interview.
Her forecast looked accurate in the first three weeks, as Northwest Christian started 8-2-1 and won the Valley Christian tournament.
Following their first regular-season loss, March 10 at Payson, the Crusaders were ranked No. 4 in 3A by MaxPreps. The other defeat came at the hands of top-ranked Paradise Honors.
“We knew that those two teams were some of the best competition we would see all year. So we strived to improve our game so when we played them again later in the season we would be better. Overall, we were playing really well, as seen in our victory at the Valley Christian tournament and in winning some other high level games, with only a few weeks of practice under our belts we definitely were playing pretty well,” Jordyn Van Metre said.
“Although many aspects of our game were improved such as adding power hitters to our lineup and quality infielders, I think one of the biggest improvements was our dedication and love for one another."
Kirk Van Metre stated in an email that along with Jordyn, senior catcher Meadow Fisk, senior outfielder Hannah Machiche and sophomore shortstop Sadie Wolfe were much improved.
Morgan Ranney was the fourth senior on the roster. The Crusaders also boasted a strong junior class and two major additions.
“Talented freshman second baseman Macie Thomas and junior third baseman/pitcher Mary Brennan, who transferred in from California, made big contributions early,” Kirk Van Metre said.
The coach said he was the proudest of the team's quality players and high character athletes. Seven of their players made the AZSports360 All-Academic Softball Team.
He said the leaders brought a great attitude, work ethic and hunger to improve. This was infectious and carried over to the other players and coaches and helped us get of to a great start.
"Our four seniors were unique because they were all leaders in the classroom and on the field as three of the four made the Arizona All-Academic Team. They were all talented players that were hard workers and encouraging to their teammates. This created a positive culture and a winning season. Our seniors are natural born leaders who took our program to a higher level by being leaders both on the field and in the classroom. They will all be greatly missed," Kirk Van Metre stated
Jordyn Van Metre was batting .630 with 18 RBI after 11 games. She hit a grand slam in her final at bat in her home stadium against Fountain Hills.
Fisk was hitting .500 with 14 RBI. Thomas was hitting .536 with 15 RBI.
Before Northwest Christian could play again, though, the outbreak of COVID-19 paused the season on March 15 and ended spring sports early on March 30.
“It was one of the most devastating things to see my senior season come to end so rapidly, and it truly felt surreal for a long time. I could not believe that all I had worked for and the girls who I had come to love was now behind me. I could not believe I would never step on the field with my best friends ever again. I am truly going to miss our crazy dugout cheers, our karaoke on the bus, our team dinners and everything in between,” Jordyn Van Metre said.
She said this senior class is we very close, no matter what sport or activity is involved, the Class of 2020 supported one another.
Kirk Van Metre stated the four seniors were captains and leaders. Once the season was canceled, because our girls are close, they have continued to stay in contact and do things together.
“Our four seniors were unique because they were all leaders in the classroom and on the field as three of the four made the Arizona All-Academic Team. They were all talented players that were hard workers and encouraging to their teammates. This created a positive culture and a winning season. Our seniors are natural born leaders who took our program to a higher level by being leaders both on the field and in the classroom. They will all be greatly missed,” Kirk Van Metre said.
Jordyn Van Metre stated that her favorite memories were traveling to River Valley and Kingman and spending the night with the team in a hotel.
“This season, although it was short. there are so many memories. One of my favorites was the Valley Christian tournament, not only did we play very well and end up winning the tournament, but on a six-hour break we had in between games we went and spent time talking, resting and hanging out at the Chandler Mall. It was such a unique and fun team bonding experience,” Jordyn Van Metre stated.
Kirk Van Metre said coaching Jordyn was really special, that she is a very talented player and great leader who is fun to be around and makes everybody better.
Jordyn said playing for her dad was one of the most rewarding things ever.
“Although it’s a hard transition to call him Coach Kirk and not dad, there was nothing better than turning to him as I was up to bat or looking to him for signs on the bases. My dad is the reason I am the player and person I am today, and I am so truly grateful for his support and encouragement throughout the years. Having him as my head coach this year was an adjustment but I loved it, he truly made the team his joy and passion and it meant the world to me and the rest of the girls. He was a key part in our success, and he strived not only to improve the players we were but also to lead us spiritually. I think this was one of the most difficult parts of the season being cut short is I will never be able to play for my dad again, I’ll never be able to run by him rounding third or look back at him in the dugout from the field. I loved being coached by my dad and I will forever cherish the few months I had,” she stated.
The good news is dad can watch her college career unfold, and both will have a shorter commute to boot. Jordyn plans to stay in Surprise and attend Ottawa University-Arizona on a softball scholarship. She will study toward a biology degree and wants to enter the medical field as a surgeon.