Prep Softball: North Rowan's Jacobs signs
Published 12:00 am Monday, December 19, 2011
By Mike London
SPENCER — Samantha Jacobs didn’t mind escaping her North Rowan zoology class for 10 minutes to discuss her scholarship to play softball at Belmont Abbey.
“We were cutting up dead cats,” said Jacobs, wrinkling her nose and making a face. “Oooh! It was pretty awful.”
If you’re starting to think Jacobs doesn’t sound mean enough or tough enough to be a successful college pitcher, think again.
She’s a whole different person when she steps in the circle with a ball. That Samantha would tackle a charging rhinoceros without batting an eye.
“She’s pretty fierce,” said Buster Hill, who has coached Jacobs in travel ball with Team North Carolina for several years. “I think all that competitiveness is her biggest asset. She’s a very nice kid, but she really, really wants to excel.”
Besides being competitive, Jacobs is humble. It’s not like she called a press conference to announce that she’d signed. The Post was actually notified by the mother of her future college teammate, South Rowan infielder Kaitlyn Jones.
“Oh, I just didn’t want to brag about it,” Jacobs explained. “But I’m happy about it.”
Bragging on her is easy. She’s been all-county three straight years, and she’s also been All-Yadkin Valley Conference.
She recalls at least three no-hitters that she pitched for North in 2011, including one in the opening round of the 1A playoffs against Monroe’s Central Academy. That lopsided game was shortened to four innings. Jacobs struck out seven and walked one.
“They weren’t the best team, but you’ll take a no-hitter any time,” Jacobs said.
She also piled up strikeouts against quality teams. She whiffed 12 East Rowan Mustangs in a game in Spencer early last season.
North expects to have eight returning starters on the field this spring. The lost starter was a key one, however — Jacobs’ longtime catcher Kristin Harmon. If the Cavaliers can find a new receiver, they could make some noise in the YVC.
Jacobs and slugger Taylor Sells will be the straws that stir that drink.
“Sam loves to win and she’s really competitive,” North infielder Breeanna Mock said. “She’s always been a very good teammate.”
With East pitcher Chelsea White moving on to Elon after dominating local softball for four seasons, it may be Jacobs’ turn. She’s been climbing toward lofty goals for years, starting with T-ball at age 4. Next was Coach Pitch. Then it was her first travel-ball team — the East Rowan Flames.
Former East pitcher Candice Hurlocker taught Jacobs a lot. Kevin Jacobs, Samantha’s father, has worked countless hours with her. Jim Daley added his expertise to the mix.
Daley is the pitching coach at Belmont Abbey, which explains why Jacobs had a fairly easy decision to choose the Crusaders.
Coach Hill expects her to shine at the next level.
“For every six innings she’s pitched for us, she’s averaged close to 10 strikeouts,” he said. “She’s pitched a no-hitter against good competition. She throws 63-64 mph, and that’s bringing it pretty good. She gets lots of swings and misses, and not just with her fastball. Her changeup is nasty, one of the nastiest that I’ve seen.”
Jacobs likes her riseball, screwball and changeup, but she admits she’s not satisfied with her entire arsenal.
“The curveball has been a struggle for me,” she said. “But I’m learning.”
Besides new pitches, she’s also learning how to deal with adverse situations.
“I’ve gotten more confidence and I’ve matured some,” she said. “I used to get mad a whole lot, but I’m getting better at that.”
Signing early takes a big weight off Jacobs’ shoulders.
“I owe a lot to my parents for pushing me,” she said. “With me signing early, they can chill a little, and I won’t worry as much. I can focus on a good senior year.”