The term ‘durability’ is defined on Google as, “the ability to withstand wear, pressure or damage.”
What the definition should really say is actually quite simple— Jailyn Ford.
After tossing 150.0 innings, recording 18 wins and boasting a staggering career low 1.03 ERA in her senior season at James Madison University, Ford has stepped right in as the ace of the Akron Racers in her first professional season.
“Coming into a really good team and a supportive team has helped me to stay mentally tough,” Ford said. “I don’t think about the innings or how many I’ve pitched in college or now. I just go out there, stay mentally tough and take it game by game.”
Her last game for the Dukes of JMU came on May 28 when Ford’s team came up short against Racers teammate, Sandra Simmons’ LSU squad in the NCAA Super Regionals.
On June 8, Ford made her first NPF start in the Racers home opener, in which she earned her first career win throwing 5.0 innings and allowing just two hits. She looks back on her first NPF start as the most memorable moment of the 2016 campaign to this point.
“I was very honored and very thankful to be given the ball on that night and I’m happy we could get the win,” Ford said.
Yes, that is correct— a mere 11 days separated the end of her collegiate career and her professional debut.
The Racers showed their faith in the durability of the young pitcher as they drafted her in the first round of the 2016 NPF Draft with the third overall selection.
“I was excited. I was kinda shocked I went so early, but I couldn’t be more thankful to be a part of such a great organization and such a great group of girls,” Ford said.
As for her first NPF season, she tacked on a team-high 98.2 innings of work and led the Racers with nine wins and 75 strikeouts. Ford tossed six complete games and secured two saves for the Rubber City as well.
Those nine wins are tied for third in the NPF and most among the league’s rookie class. She also threw the most innings by a rookie pitcher with her 98.2 innings pitched, which totaled the third most in the league. And although she was arguably the NPF’s most dominant first-year pitcher, she realizes the importance of veterans and is grateful for a pair of proven veteran teammates in Rachele Fico and Sarah Pauly.
“Whenever I get frustrated at a pitch or an inning or a game, they are always coming up to me and telling me what I can do better or what I’m doing good,” Ford said. “So, just to be able to rely on them and [have them] teach me a lot about the game and a lot about how the NPF works, I think has helped my transition too from college into this league.”
A smooth transition she has made. Ford was twice the recipient of NPF Pitcher of the Week honors, which helped to solidify her spot as one of the league’s elite pitchers and a candidate for a spot on the All-NPF team.
“I think it would be cool,” Ford reacted to the possibility of getting selected to the All-NPF team. “A lot of hustle and hard work has gone into these past couple months. Ultimately though our goal isn’t about the awards, it’s about the championship. That’s what our eyes are set on.”