Sides admitted she was nervous at the tryout. She knew everyone else there was looking to continue their careers as well, but that didn’t stop Sides from performing her best and catching the eyes of Gadsden State coach Jeanne Kerr.
Kerr noticed Sides was a hustler, then she made several inquiries about her character.
The end result was Sides signing a scholarship with Gadsden State on Tuesday at the Spring Garden School library.
“I can’t begin to tell how excited I am, being able to continue my career after I thought it was done,” Sides said. “Going to that tryout and getting that call (from Kerr) made me realize I have another chance. I’m just going to take advantage of it and do the best I can to try and help this team.”
Sides did her best to help Spring Garden achieve a top-notch level of excellence. Last season, she batted .500 with eight doubles, two triples, 23 walks, 60 runs and 29 RBIs at the leadoff spot for the Lady Panthers (23-14).
Sides has been a part of six straight area championships and regional tournament appearances. She was also a member of two teams that made the Class 1A state tournament in Montgomery.
On Tuesday, Sides became the third softball player under coach Ann Welsh to sign a college scholarship. Brooke Berry and Twyla Haggermaker were the other two.
Welsh said she’s thrilled to see Sides get the opportunity to continue her dream of playing softball.
“I know Jordan and her athletic ability, and I just felt like she could go somewhere,” Welsh said. “She’s got a big heart and a big desire to do well. She’ll work hard. Other than just having the ability, I feel like she’s prepared. She’s been through some situations that have been tough. She can handle it, and I think that’s only going to prepare her for what she’s going to continue to do. I hope as an athlete she continues to improve and can go on somewhere else after these two years (at Gadsden State).”
Kerr said her program had a tough season last year. The Lady Cardinals only had 12 players on their roster, and most of the time, had to play with nine who were healthy. The low numbers had a lot to do with Gadsden State planning to cut the softball program following last season, but new president Raymond Staats decided to reinstate it.
Outfield is a position in which Gadsden State needs depth, and Kerr believes Sides can help provide the Lady Cardinals with it.
“The kind of person she is, that’s what we’re looking for,” Kerr said. “We’ve got quite a few new girls coming in, and they’ll all start off at the same point on the first day. They all have equal opportunity to earn their spot on the field in the spring, but I know she’s going to work hard, and that’s as big a part of it as anything.
“She did a great job at her tryout. We could tell immediately she was a hustler. When the ball didn’t come to her and it went to right field or left field, she was over there helping that person make the catch. She did a good job on the hitting part of the workout, too, and we also knew she was a good kid.”
Sides said she’s going to miss playing softball at Spring Garden, but she’s willing to do anything she can to help the Lady Cardinals be successful.
“Any time you leave high school, it’s hard,” she said. “You want to help them continue the tradition, but you also realize you can leave it in their hands. They’re up to the challenge. They can proceed with the expectations because you’ve been with them for so long, and hopefully, you’ve left something with them they can carry on.
“Starting at Gadsden State, I just hope that even though I’m going to be a freshman, I can help build the program up some and help contribute to some great things.”