Senior looks to lead team with her bat

By Tony McDaniel

The Salukis were picked fourth in the Missouri Valley Conference preseason poll, but one senior captain will hope to lead this year’s softball team to an even higher finish.

Jayna Spivey, a senior from Rosiclaire, starts at second base and is a key player as well as a leader with stats to show it.

Last season, the Saluki slugger led her team in RBIs with 44, home runs with 11, a slugging percentage of .558 and a .301 batting average. She has also been named to the MVC All-conference Team the past three seasons.

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Spivey, who is a biological sciences major, has also been named to the MVC All-academic First Team her junior and sophomore seasons. She sits in fourth on the SIU all-time home runs list, and was named to the MVC Preseason All-Conference team for the upcoming season along with junior outfielder Meredith Wilson.

Coach Kerri Blaylock said she expects Spivey to lead this season.

“She’s a captain this year, we’ve got three captains,” she said. “I expect leadership, we always expect her to hit in the middle of our lineup, do a great job and be steady on defense.”

Spivey said she wants to be a leader to the freshman and be the everyday player she knows she can be.

“I expect consistency regardless of when and where we’re playing, and I want to see the same from the team,” she said. “I want to come across as level-headed to the team. I don’t want to show when I’m down and that goes back to consistency.”

Spivey played at Johnston City High School her sophomore year and then Hardin County High School her senior year where she had a .721 batting average, earning her a spot in the school’s hall of fame.

“She just would dominate the pitching at that level,” Blaylock said. “Her summer team was such a quality summer team that they spent a lot of time finishing high up in nationals, so I knew she was a winner.”

During her senior season, Spivey was recruited by both the University of Kansas and SIU. Spivey’s decision came down to one deciding factor: Coach Blaylock.

“A lot of girls would say they chose Carbondale for the team or the atmosphere, but I say Coach Blaylock,” Spivey said. “She was my favorite part.”

Spivey said she has great relationship with the entire coaching staff and can rely on Coach Blaylock.

“I know I can go to the coaches for anything,” she said. “If I need to talk, I can call Coach; if I’ve got a flat tire or a breakdown, I can call Coach.”

Sophomore shortstop Kelsey Gonzalez, Spivey’s partner in the infield, said the two of them clicked on the first day.

“She’s constantly supportive. She’s always there to talk about anything on and off the field,” Gonzalez said. “We’ve gotten really close, we always have to click together playing up the middle.”

Coach Blaylock said coaching Spivey was easy, and she regrets not having more time with Spivey.

“She’s one of those kids you don’t want to leave,” Blaylock said. “It’s kind of bad because you don’t have to spend a lot of your attention on those kids because they’re just doing things the right way. So for me, it’s just letting her know that maybe just because I didn’t spend a lot of time with her doesn’t mean I don’t recognize how special she is to our program.”

After the season, Spivey’s softball career with SIU will be over but her career as a student will not be. Spivey plans to start physician assistant school and will receive her degree in two years.

Coach Blaylock says replacing Spivey will be difficult, but she has an idea who will step in at second base next season.

“Lacey Newbold and Kelsey Gonzalez can both play the position if they needed to,” she said. “Lacey was recruited to be Jayna’s replacement, she’s coming off of arm surgery, but she’s doing really well and I feel like she’ll be the one to step in.”

Spivey says she will miss her time at SIU as a softball player.

“I’ll miss the routine, I wont get to do it anymore,” she said, “I’ll miss practices, all the girls and the coaches.”

During her time at SIU, Spivey has become a decorated softball player, winning award after award. However, Spivey says there is one thing she still wants to win.

“The awards don’t matter because we haven’t won conference yet,” she said. “I know that sounds bad, but I want a ring, and that’s all I care about.”

Spivey and the rest of the Saluki softball team will start their season Feb. 7 against Ball State University in San Marcos, Texas, at the Century Link Classic.

Tony McDaniel can be reached at [email protected], @tonymcdanielDE or at 536-3311 ext. 282

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