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Driven to success

Abby Jaques is driven to success with passion when it comes to the game of softball. She eats, drinks and sleeps it.

This spring, she got a little extra incentive to drive her to success.

She took up a good-natured challenge from longtime Princeton High School teacher/coach Eric Tinley, who promised her she could drive his 2012 Dodge Challenger to prom if she hit eight home runs. She hit eight and drove to prom in style, noting her prom date thought it was really cool.

“I said, ‘So Tinley, if I hit so many home runs, can I take your car to prom? He said, ‘Alright, let’s make it eight.’ And then a lot of our games got canceled, so I said, ‘Let’s make it seven,” Jaques said. “He agreed to that. I got my seventh home run, and I told him. He said, ‘I’ll have to confirm that, of course.’ And so then I got to take his car to prom.”

Along with the eight home runs, the Princeton junior catcher became the first player to win the area Triple Crown since PHS’ Dawn Nissen in 2002, with an area-high batting average (.456) and RBIs (27).

Those kind of numbers land Jaques as the 2014 BCR Player of the Year. She is the first PHS player to receive those honors since Taylor Williams in 2010, and the first to win it outright since Nissen in 2002.

Muscle cars aside, it’s her passion for the game which drives Jaques most.

“I love all sports. I’ve actually struggled growing up deciding which is my favorite,” she said. “I love basketball; I love playing volleyball; and I even like doing side stuff like tennis and all that. But there’s something about softball. It’s the No. 1 thing for me, always has been.”

An unanimous all-conference selection in the Three Rivers South, Jaques said the game of softball is as competitive as you want to make it.

“You can play with girls who don’t really have a lot of heart for the game, but then you play with girls where everybody’s on board; everybody wants to win; everybody’s striving to win,” she said. “When that one girl makes a diving catch, it’s just not for her, but it’s for all of us. It’s crazy because we all play for each other; it’s not individuals.”

Jaques has been with the Princeton varsity since Day 1 her freshman year, plugged into the 3-4-5 spots in the lineup. Her eight homers ties the single-season school record set by Nissen in 2002 and now leaves her second only to Nissen (17) in career round-trippers with 13.

“I guess I’ve always been a power hitter. Never been one for Bob (coach James) to have bunt,” said Jaques, who also ranks in the Top 5 all-time for PHS in RBIs (third, 73), hits (third, 97) and average (fifth, .401).

She’s also been catching for years, and even though her knees are starting to feel all the squatting up and down in a 150-game schedule over the course of a calendar year including high school and ASA, she’d have it no other way.

“That’s not stopping me because I get to be in every single play, and sometimes I get to get outs for my pitcher by picking people off base,” she said. “I feel like I’m a part of the game when I get to get those outs.”

She said picking off a runner is like hitting a home run defensively.

“When it’s a tight game and you’re needing some runs and you pick off a girl at third, the adrenaline rush you get is just insane,” Jaques said.

Strap on the chin guards and chest protector and give her a face mask and that adrenaline rush starts to kick in every time.

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