Stretching the limits
Jessica Stark, 16, a freshman at Orangefield High School, is a varsity softball pitcher, wearing jersey #17. The only child of Jessica Ledoux and step-father, Bo Ledoux Jessica also dons a cheerleading uniform and has been playing softball since Little League. From eight to ten, she played with Beaumont Blast, and has spent the past three years in tournament play, mostly in the Houston area. With a 1.43 ERA, Jessica is considered locally as a top flight pitcher and player. But Jessica wanted more – she wanted to spread her wrings nationally and set her sights on a California tournament that her team wasn’t planning to attend.
So she gave it some thought and came up with a unique idea to, not only get some national exposure for herself, but to earn a possible birth in the tournament. She created a website on myspace, offering her services as a substitute player in the tournament. And it wasn’t long until she received the invitation. Jessica was asked to pitch for the California Raiders in Huntington Beach. With the Raiders being a #2 ranked national team, Jessica didn’t even hesitate, she accepted the offer – she and her mother left early Saturday morning on the “red eye” flight to California,
Once she took to the field, Jessica pitched, played, and helped her substitute team win thee games to take third place on the national tournament. She played, pitched, and the team won three games, losing the title to the California Firecrackers, currently the number one ranked A Ball team in the nation.
"I was thrilled," Jessica said. "The thing I love most about softball is the rush of standing on the mound.
The most important thing was that there were 200 college scouts there, her mother added.
Jessica is hoping to eventually get a "full-ride" scholarship to a Division One college or university. Her best pitches are the "change-up" and the "screw-ball."
The straight "A" honor student loves history. Her favorite teachers at Orangefield High School are Penny Nay, Chemistry teacher, Della Alford, her Algebra Two Teacher, and Amy Duhon, Athletics Teacher, she stated.
Besides softball and cheerleading, she is in Student Government, UIL Math and Science, Bobcats Against Drugs and Drinking (BADD) and she is a member of First Baptist Church in Orangefield.
Her best friend, Sydnie LaFleur, who is also her cousin, gives her a lot of support. Her step-dad used to help her with her softball, her mother mentioned, but these days, she seldom needs any assistance. She’s already considered an outstanding player. But for Jessica Stark, the goal is simple – to continue to improve and better her performance.
Her efforts have already gotten her an invitation to a Louisiana State University pitching camp, which she received this past weekend past weekend. She attended the one-day camp Friday night in Baton Rouge.
Even though she’s only a freshman in high school, she, and her parents, are already looking toward the future. A college scholarship would make the trips, and all the costs associated with attending the camps and games, even more worthwhile,
"We are very proud of her,” her mother said, “Jessica is a great kid and a great ball player. We believe she can do anything she wants to do."
And what does Jessica want to do – play softball of course. She said she also wants graduate from high school, go to law school and play some sort of sport, although she hasn’t yet decided whether or not she will play college and possibly professional softball or focus on another sport. But she does know she wants to focus on sports law.
She has the desire, the drive and the willingness to go after what she wants,
No matter what she does, Jessica’s family knows she can do it and do it well. They said they are behind her 100 percent. She has it all and she intends to get even more.