Jordan Best To Continue Softball And Academic Career At Gannon University

(Above image: Jordan seated with Clarion Area Head Softball Coach Dan Shofestall and back L-R Pittsburgh Passion Coach Don Watson and Jordan’s parents Matt and Melanie Best at signing)

Clarion Area Bobcat Jordan Best recently signed her National Letter of Intent to play softball at Gannon University in Erie. The Knights, under head coach Michelle Wiley, is an NCAA Division II program, participating in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC).

Coach Wiley will be entering her twelfth year with Gannon softball. She started as the pitching coach in 2010 and was named the ninth head coach in 2018. Coach Wiley compiled an overall record of 67-39 (.632) during her first three seasons at the helm.

(Gannon image: Gannon University Coach Michelle Wiley instructing her players)

The Knights have participated in the PSAC Tournament, in every season coach Wiley has been with program. Gannon won the PSAC Championship in 2018, and participated in the NCAA Division II Tournament in 2015, 2018 and 2019.

Coach Wiley sees Jordan helping on an off the field. “At Gannon, we pride ourselves on excelling both on the field and in the classroom. Jordan is a great addition to our team that will help us excel in both areas. I am excited for her to be a Golden Knight and looking forward to have her on the team next fall.”          

She sees Jordan and her family, as assets to the team. “Family is very important to us and our players. We are excited to have Jordan and her family to be a part of our GUSB family. When talking with Jordan and her father, it was easy to see that they have similar values and would be a great addition to our family.”

And what stands out about Jordan’s play? “I first saw Jordan when she was catching. I was impressed with how she handled the pitcher and how calm she was behind the plate. She did a great job framing and staying low, which are important to do as a catcher. I feel that she will fit right in with our catching philosophy and handle our pitchers well.”       

As to her choice in Gannon, Jordan stated, “I chose Gannon University because it felt like the perfect fit for me. From my first visit I could imagine myself going to college there. I love Erie and it is not too far from home, so Gannon is the best choice for me.          

What will her field of study be and what is she hoping to do with her degree? “My major is Applied Exercise Science. I would love to incorporate exercise into my career. I am going down that path and have not made a final decision about exactly what I would like to do. My dream would be to have my own gym and train athletes like me.”      

Jordan saw a lot that she liked in the Gannon softball program. “I have always dreamed of playing college softball. When I attended the Gannon University softball camp, I talked to Coach Wiley and she was so nice. I loved the atmosphere that was created, and I met players from the team and we became instant friends.

“One of the players I met was a pitcher and I am a catcher, so we clicked, and I am so excited to get to play with her.”

(Jordan at the plate)

Jordan’s family has been very influential in her softball career. “My dad has always known of my dream to play college softball and he has helped me every step of the way. He has been my softball coach for as long as I have been playing softball and has taught me so much.

“Both of my parents have always supported me in everything. My mom has been to every softball game and has driven many hours to get me to where I need to be. Both of my parents and my sisters (Carly Best and Kelsey Best) have woken up at 5 am to come to my tournaments and games. I am truly blessed to have the most supportive family.

“All of my grandparents (Lynn and Pat Best, Tom and Sharon Hillwig) have always been there to support me as well.”

(Dad, Matt and Jordan seated. Siste,r Kelsey and Mom, Melanie in back)

Strength and conditioning have been instrumental in Jordan’s improvement. There is one individual who has really helped her with this aspect of her training. “Another person I have to thank and give credit to is Eain Brooks. He has been my trainer for almost two years now. I have fallen in love with lifting and I have gotten so much stronger because of his training. I grew a lot in softball since I began training with Eain and because of that I am getting the amazing opportunity to play college softball.”         

(Jordan and Personal Trainer Eain Brooks proudly display the Gannon University banner)

And about her Clarion Area Varsity coach and Pitsburgh Power travel ball coach, Jordan shared, “Dan Shofestal has also been my softball coach for many years. I remember coming to open gyms for the varsity team when I was little, and he would coach me. He has been my varsity coach since 9th grade, and he is a big part of why I am the player I am. Don Watson has also helped me in the little time I have played for him. He is the Pittsburgh Power coach, and I recently joined the team, and I could not thank him enough for already supporting me and teaching me so much. 

Jordan is a standout in three sports, receiving accolades in softball, volleyball and basketball.

As a freshman, in 2019, Jordan was a member of the Bobcats’ Softball Team that reached the PIAA State Class-1A quarterfinals. She was named to the Keystone Shortway Athletic Conference (KSAC) All-Conference Team as the Third Team Catcher.

As a junior, Jordan was name First Team Catcher on the 2021All-KSAC Squad and was also named to the Pennsylvania High School Softball Association (PaHSSA) All-State Team as the Second Team Catcher on the Class-A Squad. (There was no softball season in 2020 due to covid.)

(Jordan Best serving)

Jordan was a member of the Bobcat Volleyball back-to-back PIAA State Class-1A State Championship Teams, in 2020 and 2021. She was named to the Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association (PVCA) Class-1A All-State Team as a Libero, both years.

Jordan is a member of the Bobcat Girls Basketball, which made it to the first round of the PIAA Class-1A State playoffs in both her sophomore and junior seasons. She was named Third Team All-KSAC as a sophomore and Second Team as a junior.

(Jordan with a long range shot)

Clarion Area Head Softball Coach Dan Shofestall shared his congratulations, “I want to congratulate Jordan on her selection to continue her education and softball career at Gannon University.”

Coach Shofestall noticed Jordan’s love of the game years before he had her on his squad. “I remember watching Jordan playing travel ball and Little League as a young girl at various tournaments and fields. Her passion and love for the game was exhibited at all times. Through the years she has matured to become the person and player that she is today.”      

Jordan’s drive and hard work have propelled her to big things with the Cats. Coach Shofestall mentioned, “In the two short years that Jordan has played varsity softball for the Bobcats, she has, in my mind, become one of the top catchers in the area and beyond.

“In her freshmen year, I think one of the overlooked things by many, that happened on our team’s run to the state quarterfinal playoffs in 2019 was the play of Jordan behind the plate. She caught for Kaitlyn Constantino who was our 1st Team All-State Pitcher that year, and Jordan did a phenomenal job of being a part of a battery that recorded 245 strikeouts.

“She continued last season, working with a new pitching staff that showed really good improvement as the season progressed.”        

And why does she work so hard at her craft? “Jordan doesn’t want to be an average player and she doesn’t want to be a good player. She wants to be a great player. She doesn’t just come to practice and let things slide by. She wants to be coached. Great players want to be told the truth and Jordan is no different. She doesn’t take it personally when given constructive criticism. Why? . . . because she wants to be great . . . not good. This goes for all phases of her game.”       

(Jordan getting congratulations from Dad and Coach Matt as she rounds third base)

Coach Shofestall sees a great fan base and support system for Jordan in her family. “Jordan’s family has always had softball blood in their veins and have always supported her in all of her endeavors and I’m sure have been a big inspiration to her. Her parents Matt and Melanie, sisters Carly and Kelsey and extended family of grandparents, cousins, and aunts and uncles are always there to cheer her and the team on no matter what sport she is participating in at the time.”            

And Jordan playing several sports is seen as a major plus to the coach. “Like a lot of the players on our team, Jordan plays in multiple sports and different competitive venues and environments that I believe are beneficial to all. They get good coaching and different team perspectives from our girls volleyball, basketball, golf, soccer and cross-country programs and coaching.”          

Coach Shofestall shared some of the key stats from Jordan’s All-State junior season. “Jordan had a phenomenal year as a junior and was rewarded for her efforts by being named 1st Team KSAC Catcher and the Pennsylvania High School Softball Association’s 2nd Team Catcher. Her 8 Home Runs were a Bobcat single season record. Her batting average was .432 (35 for 81), which also included 9 doubles and a triple while driving in 35 runs. She crossed Home Plate for 37 runs.”

“Jordan was a smart aggressive base runner, who always understood the situation and wasn’t afraid to take a walk or lay a bunt down if need be.”

Some final comments from Coach Shofestall, “Knowing Jordan, I think she would be the first to say that she couldn’t have gotten where she is today without the help her loving family, friends, teachers, wonderful teammates, coaches and everyone else who have helped her along the way.         

“Once again, I want to congratulate Jordan on her decision to continue her softball career at Gannon University. I think it’s a win-win situation for both Gannon University and Jordan. The Gannon Golden Knights will be getting a student athlete who not only will be a good student in the classroom, but also a player who is passionate about the game of softball and a great teammate.  On the flip side Jordan will be getting a good education from a great university in Gannon and also be given the opportunity to play the game of softball and continue her career, in a game that she has loved and played since she was a young girl.”

Jordan’s coach with the Pittsburgh Power Don Watson shared, “Jordan Best is a game changer! I’m sure she will be a valuable asset at Gannon Lady Knights Softball. Jordan is also fantastic young woman and teammate! I can’t wait to see her playing at the Division II level!”

Personal Trainer Eain Brooks had this to say about his trainee, “Jordan and I have been training together for the last 2 yes.  She has made incredible gains in that time…. all due to her consistency, willingness to learn, and her drive to excel.  I can’t wait to see what she does in the future, but MAN… I sure will miss her and her energy. She makes me a better trainer.”

(Jordan during one of her strength and conditioning workouts)

And Jordan’s Parents, Matt and Melanie Best shared their pride in their daughter’s hard work. Melanie said, “Matt and I would just like to add that we are so proud of the work ethic that Jordan has. We have been told that she is a “coaches dream” many times. She went to a clinic with Coach Dan Shofestall when she was in Little League, and he told us that she is like a sponge. She absorbs everything that she is told.”

Melanie closed by saying, “We are so blessed that she has been able to play multiple sports. The life lessons of being part of a team, and what it means to make sacrifices for your teammates, will carry with her for the rest of her life. We are so excited for what the future holds for her!”

(Congratulations Jordan!!!! You make us Clarion Proud!!!! And Congratulations to the entire Best family, Gannon Softball, Clarion Softball, Pittsburgh Power Softball and the entire Clarion Community!!!!)