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Pistole brings softball to William Jessup

Del Oro grad raises $25,000 to start softball program
By: Russ Edmondson, Placer Herald
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The desire to introduce softball to the athletic menu at William Jessup University in Rocklin turned former Del Oro High softball star, Jessica Pistole, into a fundraising machine. Pistole, who will coach the new program in its inaugural season in the spring of 2010, raised $25,000 in order to start a softball program at William Jessup University in Rocklin. After graduating from Del Oro in 1998, Pistole played volleyball and softball at Biola University in Southern California. “To me this whole experience at Jessup is almost the same situation (as Biola),” said Pistole, who coached Biola for 2 and ½ years. “Biola was a doormat program and the coach came in the same year I did (as a freshman). The coaching staff and I went through a four-year run there and it was neat. We were at the top of national tournaments and won our region our senior year.” After graduating, Pistole took over as coach of the softball program at Biola after she graduated. She was just 22. “Coach turned the program over to me the year after I graduated and (the team) was all of my former teammates except three players,” Pistole said. “Some had been my roommates and I had been in their wedding . . . and now I’m having to discipline them and figure out how to run a program at the same time.” Pistole moved to William Jessup in 2006 and served as a coach for Jessup’s women’s volleyball team. During this time she began to see the potential for a softball program on campus. “About the end of February (of 2009), we sat down and they gave me the stipulation ($25,000),” Pistole said. “There is a lot of support in the community for the sport and (I felt) that the response would be strong. We have the platform to be a really strong program in not that much time if we do this right.” She raised the money by April 15 and the WJU softball program was born. The Warriors begin practicing in August. But she knows the hard work is not done. Being from this area helped Pistole out a lot. She was known as Jessica Logsdon when she pitched at Del Oro. “It was pretty unreal, I was definitely pounding the pavement and it was definitely exhausting,” she said. “The response from the community is what gave me the momentum and the energy.” Pistole, who lives in Rocklin, credited her husband Bryan with being so patient during the wild six weeks of fund-raising. “Honestly the thing about it is, I have the most incredibly supportive husband and he’s a hands-on dad,” Pistole said. “We have two little girls and it’s hard. He’s been working and I’ve been working and then at night I have to make phone calls.” She has been hitting the recruiting trail hard and has six or seven freshmen committed for the fall. She also has about seven junior college players that have committed, pending completion of admissions requirements. “We’ve been running through tryout after tryout after tryout,” Pistole said. “The admission process is a numbers game and right now there are about 35 athletes (all sports) in that process.” One of the incoming freshmen who is an official signee is former Loretto High star, first baseman, Liz Benton. “I’m excited to be part of the growth of Jessup’s athletic program, making history as a member of WJU's first softball team,” said Benton in a WJU press release. Pistole is fired up about how the team is coming together. “I’m really excited about the girls that are coming and want to be a part of starting a program, establishing tradition, playing ball at the next level and getting their degree,” Pistole said. “That’s number one in what I’m looking for. The passion and the heart for that.” The task of raising $25,000 in six weeks was an intimidating one for Pistole. “In all honesty I’d like to raise that much ($25,000) more,” Pistole said. “It’s a collegiate program and I want to pay a coaching staff and all that. We are still in the works.” Pistole envisions a bright future for Jessup softball. “I think it’s a great opportunity to build this program and I feel like we really do have the platform to do it,” Pistole said.