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Who is Jayden Heavener? Interview with the 2024 Grad Year's Top Prospect

Virginia Unity Fastpitch Organization:

Name: Jayden Heavener

Nickname: "J"

Hometown: Pace, FL

Grad Year: 2024

Travel Team: Virginia Unity

High School: Pace High School, FL

Positions: Pitcher and 1st Base

Height: 5'7"

Bat/Throw: L/L

Pitching Arsenal w/Speeds

Fastball: 67 to 68

Curve: 67 to 68

Rise: 67

Drop: 66 to 67

Change: 49 to 50

Overhand Velocity: 70

Exit Velocity off Tee: 78

Intended Study Major: Veterinary Medicine

Twitter: @JaydenHeavener

Instagram: jaydenheavener

Who are you? I am a quiet person until you get to know me. I have a small circle of friends that I love so much. I love to win but I hate losing more.

How did your softball journey begin? I started playing when I was 4 years old. I started as a catcher. I started pitching when I was 9. When I turned 11, I had to choose between pitching and catching. I was good at catching but I was better at pitching. Pitching made sense because I was a Lefty.

Jayden as a young catcher and pitcher ... Where it all began

You’re not only considered the best Pitcher in the 2024 class, you’re listed as the overall top prospect in several national player rankings. How does that make you feel and what do you attribute to your amazing success and achievements? I am so humbled to sit in that top spot especially because I know that there are so many other amazing athletes that could be right beside me at any time. I know that there is a bullseye on my back and that is okay. When it was first announced, I thought that it meant that I had to be perfect all the time. That is a lot of pressure. My parents had to remind me that I am 15. I won't pitch in College for another 2 1/2 years. I have time to work on the things that I still struggle with sometimes. I attribute my success to my amazing coaches, Amanda Roberson (Pitching) and Jody Hodo (Hitting). The Bolts Organization also taught me so much and now Virginia Unity is building on that and taking me to the next level.

"Jayden is being looked at by the Power 5 conferences and as dominating as she is, Jayden is a player I love to coach. Why? Because she's respectful, a team player, and still has more room for development and does it willingly. And every coach I speak to mentioned Jayden as being high on their list."

- Quan Green, Head Coach for Birmingham Thunderbolts Premier 2024-Green

How do you handle knowing every player is giving their best effort to win individual and team battles against you? I don't like being on the wrong end of a highlight video but I know that it is going to happen. I am going to make a mistake that they are going to make me pay for. I will just have to watch the video and make adjustments. The struggle makes me better.

What is your game time fastball cruising speed and what is the fastest you have been clocked? What other pitches do you use and what are their readings? What is your favorite or Go-to Pitch and why? I try to mix my speeds on my pitches. My fastball is consistently 66 right now. My personal best is 68. I hit that about 7 times in a game this year. My rise ball will be 64 to 66. My curveball will be 65 to 66. My change up is 49 to 50. The drop ball is my newest pitch so I am not really sure what it is clocked at yet. I am still working on it. My "Go to Pitch" changes between my curve and my rise. I have some games where one is working more than the other. I have some games where they are both working. I love throwing both of them.

What is your greatest strengths as a softball player? I think my strength is my mental game. I like being able to read a batter and just know what pitch my coach will call. I don't let a lot get to me. You live in Florida however your nationally recognized elite travel team is based in Virginia with teammates also traveling from several different states. How does your team practice and team build together with a roster stacked with elite talent from different backgrounds? Getting together is definitely hard. We practice as a team about 3 times a year for long weekends. Our players are from 9 different states. We are all so driven and work toward our goals with private coaches. I love this team because I know that there are 15 other girls working as hard as I am. They hate to lose too.

Recently you won against the #3 ranked team in Florida, pitching a No-Hitter and striking out 19 batters. Can you please share insight on that amazing performance and how you prepared and executed? That was a night when all my pitches were working. I was able to throw what I needed in any situation. I knew that it would be a tough game but I also knew that my team had my back no matter what. They were ready. You’re outstanding pitching tends to draw attention away from the fact you’re an equally impressive batter. What kind of hitter are you and what are your most recent offensive stats? I want to hit and pitch in college so I work on both with my coaches every week. I am a power hitter but I am working on being more of a situational hitter. I would love to always hit it out but I can't do that. I am working on putting it in the gaps when I have runners in scoring position.

These are my current stats for High School but we have a lot of games left: - BA .367 - OBP .444 - 11 Hits - 13 RBI's - 4 Doubles - 2 Home Runs

Describe your leadership style and what characteristics do you find in outstanding leaders? I try to lead by example. I work hard at being a good teammate. It is not about me, it is about the team. I want to have good stats but that is only to compete with myself. I really want to do whatever my team needs for the win in whatever role I am in. There are some games that I am not pitching. My job in that game is to score runs for my team. You’re obviously very busy with so many activities and events in your life. How do you balance your life and manage your time so effectively? I love being busy. My Dad works with me every day during the week when I don't have a game and I have pitching and hitting lessons every Sunday. I have goals. It is not always easy but I know that it will pay off. Working on pitching and hitting takes up a lot of time but I don't want to be a pitcher only. Describe your game day mental preparation and your thought process and mindset in the circle and/or the batters box. I try to go in with a plan. If I am pitching against a good hitting team, they will be more aggressive. I know that I have to work on my pitches out of the zone. If I am playing a team that is a lot more patient, I may have to work on hitting the outside of the strike zone more to get ahead in the count. When I am batting, I really just go in ready to hit the ball where it is pitched. Some pitchers will pitch me in and some will pitch me out. I am going in prepared for either one.

What is your favorite sports memory and greatest achievement? My greatest achievement so far is winning Florida 5A Pitcher of the year as a Freshman. That was such a huge honor. How do you handle adversity and even failure? I don't like to have a bad game. I don't think anyone does. I don't really think it is failure. It just means I have to work harder. I do get upset after games if it wasn't my best performance but I don't let it get me down for long. I just focus on what wasn't working. How would your teammates and friends describe you? They said they would describe me as a leader and a team player.

Virginia Unity - Johnson/Ross

Who is your role-model and or idol and why? I love Monica Abbott and Cat Osterman. They are both amazing Lefty pitchers. All players look up to them on and off the field. If you could spend a day with any softball player, former or current, who would it be and why? I would say Shelbi Sunseri and Miranda Elish. They are both amazing pitchers and hitters. I would like to spend the day learning from them. What is your softball dream/goal? I want to play in college and I want to play for the Jr USA /USA team. Describe your perfect softball team. My perfect team is a group of my friends with the same dream and work ethic. When deciding on what college team to play for what are the most important things you’re looking for?

1st - I want them to offer Veterinary Medicine 2nd - Coaching Staff 3rd - Team Chemistry 4th - Reputation

Rowdy with Jayden

Jayden and Karma Rose

To be as successful as you are at the elite Tier 1 level requires putting in the extra work. Please tell us about all the extra work you put into your development and improvements such as strength and conditioning to private lessons. I do Cross Fit 5 days a week at 6 am except when HS season starts. When HS starts, we have workouts in the morning before school. I pitch and hit 5 days a week with my Dad. My parents drive me an hour and a half every Sunday for private lessons. We go to Fairhope, AL for pitching lessons with Coach Amanda Roberson. When pitching is over, we drive to Orange Beach, AL for hitting lessons with Coach Jody Hodo.

Pitching Coach Amanda Roberson during a weekly private lesson with Jayden

Hitting Coach Jody Hodo breaking down Jayden's swing

What gets you hyped or ready before a game? Listening to music and a good warm up. What is your favorite jersey number and why did you choose it? #00 is my number. My sister played softball and My brother played lacrosse. They were both #00.

What other hobbies do you have to balance out softball and your personal life? I like to go to the beach with my friends. What bit of advice or mentorship can you share with younger players or others who strive to be successful as you? Don't give up.

Who would you like to thank for your softball achievements and support? My Mom and my Dad. They have done so much for me. They have moved and changed jobs so that I could have more opportunities. They drive me 3 hours round trip to my lessons every week. It is because of them.

Jayden and her Parents

Additional Information About Jayden: Walk up Song: Patty Cake by Kodak Black Favorite Food: Steak Favorite Song: I don't really have a favorite but I like Rap Music Favorite Music Artist: Young Boy and Boogie Favorite Sports Team: All softball teams Favorite Sports Celebrity: Monica Abbott and Cat Osterman Favorite Movie: Anabelle Favorite TV Show: Spongebob Squarepants Favorite Travel Spot: I want to go to Bora Bora or Greece Favorite Quote: "The strongest people aren't always the people who win, but they are the people who don't give up when they lose" - Unknown

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