Tales Of Jordan Woolery’s Softball Mastery Were Widespread Before Her 2019 Arrival At Clayton Valley — As It Turned Out, They Were All True •
Jordan Woolery has never waited long to make an impression.
When she was in the sixth grade, word started filtering around Concord’s Clayton Valley High where she is now a junior.
“A couple older girls on the team said, “Wait ‘til you see this girl, she is in sixth grade and hopefully she is going to come here,” longtime Clayton Valley softball coach Dave Cooney said.
Like any veteran coach, Cooney had heard youth players hyped, often to levels they couldn’t possibly match upon reaching high school varsity.
“I didn’t think much about it, then in her eighth grade year I heard, ‘Jordan is coming to Clayton Valley.’”
Word also reached future teammates of the girl who had been honing her craft playing in older age groups.
“I already had siblings at Clayton Valley, and there were people who talked about a girl from middle school who was awesome,” said Clayton Valley junior Jackie Alday, who met Woolery when they were 4 years old. “So I knew they had to be talking about Jordan.”
Then came the big leap.
Just a few weeks into eighth grade, she committed to UCLA, arguably the nation’s top collegiate softball program. Once again, she was ahead of the game.
“UCLA has always been my dream school,” Woolery said. “In my fifth-grade notebook there was a question: ‘Where will you be in the future?’” she recalled. “I wrote that I want to be playing softball at UCLA. I am so excited. They have the best coaches you could ever want to play for.”
Though always ahead of schedule, Woolery is enjoying the present as Clayton Valley’s shortstop.
She and her teammates are thrilled to be back playing in an abbreviated season, a year after the previous one was cut short after five games due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Even for a program that made the last four North Coast Section Division I playoffs, a brief season without playoffs offers great opportunity.
“I feel like we are just lucky to have just these league games, so the seniors get to play their last games,” Woolery said. “Even if they are not going to play in college, they will have this chance to play with their classmates.”
One full year from the start of the pandemic, Clayton Valley enjoyed getting back into game action, though losing 8-2 to Alhambra-Martinez. Woolery went 2-for-3 with a home run, two runs scored and an RBI.
“We’re setting a bar of how we can improve for next season, while trying to have fun together as a team,” said Alday, the team’s catcher, who aspires to play at Cal. “We have only two seniors, so we are kind of young.”
There’s the cliche about the star athlete who is first to practice and last to leave, but it rings true for Woolery.
“Jordan is a coach’s dream; there’s no other way to put it,” Cooney said. “Most of the time practice is long over and I have to kick her out of the cage. She’ll be hitting on the tee, or working on something. So I will say, ‘Hey, it’s time to go, Jordan.’ She already is a top-level player, but she is relentless in her work ethic.”
It all fits into the good-natured manner of Woolery. Even the hours spent practicing are a joy.
“Working out for me wasn’t a chore, since I was not working,” she said.
“For the most part, I enjoy practice. It’s not work for me.”
Cooney calls Woolery “one of those who only come around once in a lifetime.”
He’s spent 15 years with the Ugly Eagles program and is in his ninth season as head coach. He has seen standout players there. Kierra Willis went on to star at Fresno State. And there were the Chambers sisters, Kelsey and Lindsey, who played at Oregon.
Woolery is something else.
“She is the best to come through Clayton Valley during the time I’ve been part of the program, and in speaking with some who have been around longer than I have, they say the same thing,” he said.
Woolery’s long journey with travel softball has brought her down south to the Athletics Mercado/Smith 18-U Gold team based out of Murrieta.
Years of playing with older players helped her make friends and to learn. It was in sixth grade when she began to visualize her potential while appreciating the camaraderie.
“I like being on a team,” she said. “Sixth grade was when I first realized I was pretty good, and college softball could be something I’d be good at.”
SoftballAmerica.com, ExtraInningSoftball.com, FloSoftball.com and MaxPreps.com have ranked her among the very top recruits for the class of 2022.
“She does not have a weakness in her game,” Cooney said. “She’s mainly playing shortstop, third base a bit for us. We’re trying to mix it because UCLA probably would play her at a corner position.”
Sophomore second baseman Izzy Scolini sees Woolery’s talent close up.
“She has a great skill set,” Scolini said. “She’s a really good infielder and really consistent in her play. She is really smooth on the dirt.’
Woolery more than lived up to the buildup in her freshman season, batting .600 with 27 RBIs and 33 runs scored. Woolery was such a force that she was intentionally walked 17 times, including three times in a 2019 NCS Div. I playoff game with Napa.
“She was our No. 3 hitter and in her first at-bat hit a two-run home run,” Cooney said. “Then she was walked three times, once with the bases loaded in that game. That’s the respect she gets.”
Though Clayton Valley lost that game 23-13 in a slugfest, aspirations were high for the spring 2020 season.
Woolery and Alday, who hit .381 as a freshman, were back. With five of its seven seniors in the starting lineup, the table seemed set. The Ugly Eagles went 4-1 before their 2020 season — and everyone else’s in the region — was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We were pretty excited about the season, so it was tough to see the dreams crushed after the girls worked hard,” Cooney said.
As a sophomore, Woolery was voted as a team captain by her teammates.
“That was quite an honor on such a senior-laden team to be selected as a captain as a sophomore, Cooney said.
She is appreciative of the honor, but feels the role doesn’t need to be limited to those with the designation.
“To me though, it doesn’t matter if you are a captain or not. You can be a leader without being a captain.”
Alday is co-captain this season with Woolery, and notes her level-headed approach.
“Jordan is definitely a natural-born leader,” Alday said. “She always leads by example, even without knowing it. She is not super cocky, even though she is the best player out there.”
While sports were effectively shut down, Woolery was a galvanizing force behind small workouts. Often she would gather with Alday and Scolini. Then others began to be part of it, bridging the gap before Clayton Valley could resume team practices and then games.
“During the whole pandemic, 2-3 times a week, she’d call me and ask, ‘Coach, can you unlock the field for me?’” Cooney said. “At first she’d bring a couple teammates, and as restrictions started lifting, she started grabbing a few more kids.”
Scolini appreciated her efforts and demeanor during those workouts.
“She has a great attitude and always looks like she’s having fun out there,” she said. “She pushes me to do better. When we would go out to the field together and work out, I noticed how she has a great swing and great mechanics.”
Extra effort extends to other facets of her life. As a junior she is taking Advanced Placement classes in U.S. History and Environmental Science. Through her church, she has worked to help the homeless and participated in programs like Habitat for Humanity.
“It’s Important to have a good impact on people,” she said. “Even though I play softball and I enjoy that, I think it’s more important to do things that help people.”
Doing important things includes staying good-natured and upbeat.
“I don’t recall the last time I’ve ever heard her complain,” Alday said.
“She is one of the most positive kids … She will pick a kid up when they make an error in the field or strikes out. She’s a great person,” Cooney said.