Junior pitcher Jordyn Alford shoulders the load in more ways than one for the Hannibal-LaGrange University softball team.

Jordyn Alford shoulders the load in more ways than one for the Hannibal-LaGrange University softball team.

The junior leads the squad with 129 2/3 innings pitched this season, recording 56 percent of the Lady Trojans' defensive outs.

But her favorite way to make a difference is at the plate.

Alford sports a team-leading .404 batting average and 33 RBIs this year as an anchor in veteran coach Dan Hurst's lineup.

“Hitting has always been my favorite part of the game,” Alford said. “Pitching has always been there, but hitting is what I love to do. When I go up there, I just want to produce. Hitting is contagious, so hopefully that starts something for our team.”

As of late, it has.

Since starting the season 1-30, the Lady Trojans have posted five consecutive victories — all coming against American Midwest Conference opponents.

Alford, a St. Jacob, Illinois native, keyed the resurgence. 

The junior standout drove home 12 runs over the past five games combined while claiming a pair of complete game wins in the circle. 

“Things have started falling our way,” Alford said of the recent surge. “We've been close all year, in one-run games and everything. We haven't lost heart at all this season. I'm proud of the way we stuck together and never gave up.”

Hurst mentioned Alford is the only returning pitcher on his roster this season and the only “true pitcher” on the squad. 

“Jordyn has had a lot of pressure on her both pitching-wise and hitting-wise, and she has answered the call beyond expectations,” the coach said.

Alford, who has posted three wins and a 4.70 ERA so far this season, takes it upon herself to support teammates who have trained to become options out of the bullpen.

“It's definitely been a challenge this year, but my goal is to be a leader that the other pitchers can rely on,” Alford explained. “They really back me up and are always behind me, so I just try to go out there and do my best.”

Two years ago, Alford won 16 games in the circle as a freshman to help HLGU post a record of 23-29.

With one college season remaining, she wants to help restore the program to that level and beyond. 

The current winning streak is a step in the right direction.

The Lady Trojans look to continue their success with a home doubleheader against Culver-Stockton on Tuesday before closing the season next week. 

“This gives us momentum going into next season,” Alford said of the strong finish. “It's always nice to go in with confidence knowing that we can do this and play our best." 

The junior mentioned softball has taught her valuable life lessons beyond the wins and losses.

“First and foremost, I've learned to rely on God for everything,” Alford said. “And rely on your teammates and be there for them. Just always love the people around you and do everything to the best of your ability.”