A conversation with Coach Jana McGinnis

We recently had an opportunity to speak with Jacksonville State’s softball coach, Jana McGinnis, about the four seniors on the team. Coach McGinnis feels this group of seniors has experienced more excitement on the field than any other group of seniors for JSU Softball. The first year they were here, the competed for the OVC Championship. The past two years, this group of ladies has won the conference. Coach McGinnis works to develop her team, both on and off the field. Academics are stressed, and the team’s GPA reflects that. We’ll cover 2 today and 2 tomorrow.

Here are some questions and answers with Coach McGinnis:

Q: You’ve got four seniors this year. Looking back at their career, from where they began to now, what do you see?
A: We want them to develop both on and off the field. We want them to be accountable and responsible. On the field, we want them to be able to look back to their freshman year and say “I just thought I was good back then”.

Q: Tell us about Chrissy O’Neal.
A: Chrissy O’Neal plays leftfield and bats leadoff. She was recruited our of Dallas, GA. We started watching her as a 10th grader. Chrissy is a go-getter, on the field and off. She’s already got her undergraduate degree in Criminal Justice, and is working on her Masters now.
Chrissy bats leadoff for us, but she’s not the typical leadoff hitter. She has power and can get a lot of doubles and home runs for us. Since coming to JSU, Chrissy has developed patience and discipline as a hitter. She’s really matured. That has really helped her as the leadoff hitter.

Q: What does Chrissy bring to the team?
A: First of all, Chrissy brings a tough attitude to the team. You can see her attitude at the plate and in the field. She also shows a great example of selflessness. She is a team player. Chrissy played centerfield for us her first two years, and did a great job. Last year, we needed her to move to leftfield. She accepted the move because it was best for the team.

Q: Tell us about another senior, Hillary Downs.
A: Hillary plays centerfield for us and bats second in the lineup. She does a great job as the #2 hitter, because she handles the bat well. Depending on the situation, she can bunt or hit with power, which makes her successful. As an outfielder, Hillary has one of the best arms I’ve seen. She really helps us out in the field. Also, Hillary is a great student. She’s a marketing major.

Q: How did Hillary end up at JSU?
A: Of our four seniors, Hillary is the only one that is a junior college transfer. She played at Central Alabama Community College. When we look at potential transfers from a junior college, we look for someone with good credentials. Hillary was in the running for the Junior College Player of the Year her sophomore year. She fit in immediately and played in every game. Bringing in a player like Hillary really helps because she brings with her experience and maturity.

More to come about the JSU softball team tomorrow…

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