When opposing softball teams come to play Virginia Tech, they may be surprised at how much talent the shortest girl, and the best pitcher, possesses.
Just 5-feet 4-inches tall, sophomore Jasmin Harrell may stand short in the circle, but gives nothing less than a great performance.
“I never get softball,” Harrell said. “Everyone thinks I play lacrosse, track or soccer. Once I tell them I play softball and that I pitch, most people say I’m too short.”
Teams last year may have thought this before facing Harrell. However, what they received was a hard fastball and pitches that were anything but expected.
Harrell struck out 11 against Longwood and nine against Liberty, both examples of then-freshman skill and talent that was bigger than her body gives her credit for.
She first picked up a ball and bat when she was just four years old. Her father, who played baseball throughout high school and continued in college at Loyola University, got her into the sport.
“I was a really good hitter but I could care less about defense,” Harrell said. “I wanted to be an outfielder because I can’t pay attention well and I wanted to chase the butterflies.”
A few years later, though, Harrell was forced into the circle, a position she dreaded playing.
When she was playing for a team coached by her father when she was eight, the need for a pitcher arose. No one wanted to take the task, so she was forced to the mound.
“I was really fast but I would always hit people, I was the wildest thing,” Harrell said. “I would gas out because I would give it my all every pitch so I could never go an entire game, better yet five innings.”
After a few rough games, Harrell’s father pushed her to practice pitching more and more. The constant work made Harrell hate the position, but she loved it at the same time because she started to do well.
A couple years later, Harrell’s parents divorced.
“I haven’t talked to him for years,” Harrell said of her father. “I don’t even know if he knows I’m here playing softball.”
After the divorce, the only time she spent with her father was at the softball diamond. Harrell was her father’s trophy — a talent and flashback to his own youth.
She only saw her father at ball games, as he skipped birthdays and school events and then stopped coming around altogether. Harrell last spoke to her father the day she won the California Interscholastic Federation or CIF, a win comparable to a state championship. This was during Harrell’s sophomore year of high school, in which she pitched every game of the tournament, including the championship game.
“I don’t know where he even lives,” Harrell said. “He dropped off the face of the earth. No bye, no nothing.”
Through it all, her mother was by her side, and Harrell said she is her biggest influence and role model.
“My mom supported and encouraged me to do my best,” Harrell said. “She came to every game, even though she never played herself.”
When her father left, Harrell did not want to pitch. He was the only reason she was a pitcher to begin with.