The La Crosse Logan softball team is the top-ranked team in Division 2 again this week according to the coaches' poll. The Rangers may also have the top-ranked pitcher in the state as well in Jordyn Kleman. The junior continues to strengthen her game, and dominate hitters, as Logan remains unbeaten in conference play.
Kleman played briefly her freshman year, but really came into her own as a sophomore. She threw 131 2-3 innings, going 17-3 with a 0.85 ERA. She had 15 complete games, including two no-hitters, and 215 strikeouts.
Those numbers are better in 2015. As of Monday, she is 11-1 with a 0.17 ERA, has thrown two no-hitters and six 1-hitters. She also has 173 strikeouts in 84 innings of work.
"It's going well. It's exciting and it's more than I thought it would be actually," Kleman said of her season thus far. "I have more pitches this year and I try to change speeds and just use them to my advantage, go to the corners more than I did last year. I think I'm a little stronger this year which helps me a lot."
"1-hitters are kind of my thing I guess," she added with a laugh. "It happens a lot, a little more than I want it to."
Kleman has put in the work during the offseason to become nearly unhittable. She entered high school with just a strong fastball, but has developed an arsenal of offspeed pitches.
"She understands the basics of pitching so the process has been pretty quick," said her pitching coach Krysta Sunne, who has worked with her to change speeds and work on location. "There are things she picked up on really fast, there are things that have taken quite a bit longer and that's been more of a challenge for her because I would say that some of the more difficult things that she throws, she picked up quick."
Kleman's 2015 campaign started with a no-hitter against defending Division 3 state champion Arcadia, giving her an indication what this season could bring.
"That got me really excited for the games to come, but I knew I still had to work for it, for each one," she said.
Her motto is to improve from last year, to learn from each game and get better.
"I focus a lot. I think that's key for me," Kleman said. "I just have to be confident in myself and my team behind me."
It's the girl looking out at her that's seen the improvement first-hand. Senior catcher Katie Weiss said catching Kleman is fun because she throws so many pitches and keeps her moving around the strike zone.
"She's been playing softball for a long time and each year she's able to learn new pitches, use them in games and help the team out," Weiss said. "She's able to pick us back up and she's a good leader out there on the mound. We can count on her."
Kleman has given some thought to playing at the next level, but doesn't have a program in mind. The only criteria at the moment is a place that has the education she needs and the highest level of competition she can find on the diamond.
Her nickname on the team is 'Joe,' given to her by her father in youth softball. All of her teammates and coaches call her that, and it's just stuck, she said.