Riggles connect with Judson

Staff photo by Tom Graham

North Knox twins Jordin, second from left, and Britney Riggle signed their letter of intents last Friday to play softball at Judson University in Elgin, Ill. The twins are flanked by their parents, Brandon and Karen Riggle. The back row, from left, is Warriors softball coach John Kixmiller, Tri-County Mayhem coach Shawna May, Judson coach Jack Jordan and sister Angela Riggle.

In the athletic world, most of the time the coach sees how the player he or she is looking at performs and makes a decision on whether to extend an offer. But in the real world, it’s the employee who must convince the employer of his or her worth to the company.

North Knox softball twins Britney and Jordin Riggle got an early view of how the real world works. They wanted to play softball in college, but had to convince a coach that they were worth recruiting. They wrote hundreds of e-mails to colleges and junior colleges throughout the midwest.

Apparently they’re good writers. Multiple colleges offered, and last Friday the twins signed their letters of intent to play at Judson University.

“We chose to play together, just so we would have a friend already there, to have someone on the team we already knew. But we always don’t get along with each other either,” Britney Riggle said. “Still I probably wouldn’t go if I was by myself.”

The twins had their choices, with interest coming from Illinois schools Blackburn, Lincoln, Olney Central, and Kaskaskia to go with Kentucky Wesleyan and Martin Methodist (Tenn.).

“I liked the college. It’s a small school and a Christian school,” Jordin Riggle said.

Judson is an NAIA school in Elgin, Ill., about 40 miles northwest of Chicago. The team is led by first-year coach Jack Jordan, who admitted that he was impressed with the Riggles.

“Since my first conversation with them, I felt there was something special about them. They are excited about life and passionate about pursuing their education and softball careers,” Jordan said. “They are workers and fighters.

“They are grounded in family, have faith in Christ, are both loyal and appreciative of their past coaches and will do whatever it takes to succeed, both academically and athletically,” he said. “I can work with that.”

The scouting reports on the Riggles are similar. Both are adept outfielders with good arms. They’re good bunters with speed that translates to stolen bases. But both are compromised offensively. Britney Riggle batted .206 in 34 at-bats last season for the Warriors, and Jordin Riggle hit .182 in 33 at-bats.

They have put in the work in the summer, playing travel league softball since 2011. First it was the Indiana Fire, followed by Bruceville, the Knox County Crushers and the Ruthless, which have turned into the Tri-County Mayhem.

The Mayhem, directed by Shawna May, specializes in giving their players the tools and connections needed to play collegiately.

“They probably hit about .280 for me,” May said. “They’re both team players. You ask somebody to bunt and move a runner over, and they volunteer to do it.”

The twins are a softball version of baseball’s Billy Hamilton, the outfielder who played most of his seven-year career with the Cincinnati Reds. He’s a career .242 hitter with little power, but is coveted because of his speed and glove. Still the Riggles admitted that their batting has to improve.

“We have to get a lot stronger,” Jordin Riggle said. “That would help.”

The Eagles were 29-18 a year ago and were 14-8 in the 12-team Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference. Jordan said the team has a 55-game schedule and is trying to put together an 8-to-10 game junior varsity slate.

The Riggles are part of a 13-player recruiting class. Jordan said he’s going to have to replace six starters off this year’s team, which went 29-18 a year ago and was 14-8 in the 12-team Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference.

“Like I tell all of our recruits, the opportunity is going to be there,” Jordan said. “But most players are going to have to sit a year or two. I’m sure players are going to call home and say they never get to play. They have to keep pounding.”

Britney Riggle plans to major in Social Work, and Jordin Riggle in Sports Management.

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