LIVE OAK — Research shows that there are only 6,107 Division I college softball athletes currently in the United States. And The Daily Herald reported that 1/3 of all athletes recruited to play college sports end up quitting. Yet two athletes from Suwannee County have beaten the odds and are on the home stretch to finish their course.

Blakely Burch and Jordan Roberts are both completing their senior seasons playing Division I softball. And while both say the early A.M. workouts, exhausting practices and team meetings have been grueling, they have certainly been worth every minute. These girls have a lot in common. They started playing together at a young age in the recreation league in Live Oak. Travel softball teams prevented each from attending family gatherings, friend’s parties and from having much free time at all. Both girl’s fathers have been quick to pitch to them and provide softball advice when needed. Other similarities include being active in the fellowship of Christian athletes, having a sister involved in sports, and being raised by supportive parents.

Blakely and Jordan have both had the opportunity to play on winning teams. Marshall University and the Florida Gators each won their softball program conference championship in 2017. And last season Marshall softball broke more records than ever; most home runs, hit by pitches, shutouts, doubles and triples. It was an amazing year and Blakely contributed to every record while breaking the individual record for the number of triples in one season.

The Florida Gators have had their share of records too, winning the Women’s College World Series national championship twice and five SEC tournament championships. Jordan has had the opportunity to travel with the Gators to the World series the last three years and cites it as one of the most memorable experiences of her life. Jordan was also picked as Conference Player of the Week her freshman year at Florida and has contributed at each World Series she attended.

When asked about games during their college career in which they remembered most, both had different stories to tell.

For Blakely it was most certainly the “walk off” run against Louisiana Tech. She said, “there was so much tension in the air as we were losing, but when I hit it solid I knew it was going to change the game and that feeling is one you cannot ever replace or recreate!”

Jordan said her most memorable game was against Auburn when she hit a far reaching grand slam. But Jordan reminds us that although it ended in their favor, the tournament didn’t start out that way for her. She said the day before had been horrible at the plate as she struck out every at-bat. Then the next day, Amanda Lorenz, a teammate, knew her struggle, took her aside, and before going out to the plate she prayed with her. And that is when she hit the grand slam.

Both began their senior seasons earlier this month. Florida is off to a 16-2 start with Jordan making her impact in the Gators’ lineup with four home runs and 20 RBIs (second highest on the team). The Thundering Herd, meanwhile, are 8-5 so far this season. Burch has two home runs, three doubles and a triple as she is hitting .293.

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