LOOMIS (CBS13) — Jenna Birch is trying to break a habit. The Del Oro senior thinks about keeping her foot down, keeping her hands together before checking off a box: getting on base. Birch has been checking off boxes like that her whole life.
“It started when I was about two,” she explains.READ MORE: Experts: California Lacked Safeguards For Gun Owner Info
As a toddler, Birch was rolling clothes up into a ball and trying to throw strikes. In a lot of ways, softball is in her very DNA. Jenna’s mom played for Oklahoma and her aunt competed for Middle Tennessee State. The family has a championship pedigree with Del Oro softball that dates back 30 years.
“There was seven girls on the Sherman side who won a section championship at Del Oro,” Steve Birch, Jenna’s father and former travel coach, explains.
“It was a lot of pressure,” she admits. “My family comes to every single game and they sit in the right-field corner.”
Both her parents coached her in travel softball and they traded off moments of being the hard coach and the soft one. One tournament in Arizona, her mom Jennifer bet the team a tattoo if the team came back and won their game. Jenna’s travel team won that game and the next one. Jennifer tattooed the word ‘bro’ (an inside joke among the team) on her foot. Amidst the moments of serious training and competition, there are plenty of moments of levity. The Birch family kids are all competitive and often bet with each other on who has a better week on the field.
“It’s mostly like if I hit a home run I get some money,” Jenna jokes. “And it’s double or nothing so my grandma gets in on it.”READ MORE: Fourth of July Celebrations Will Cost You More This Year, But How Much?
“I didn’t make the deal but it was coming out of my pocket,” says Steve with a smile.
Jenna won a decent amount of the bets this year but individual achievement never trumped the desire to win for her team. Being a vocal leader was one of the biggest things her parents instilled in her.
“I think that’s been in me since day one that’s the first thing my mother taught me.”
With a talented group of seniors and one last chance to keep the streak alive, Jenna helped lead Del Oro to a CIF section championship and a Norcal semifinal appearance.
“We always told her, ‘when you look back in history, she’s a winner,'” Steve says.
Del Oro’s theme this year was about checking boxes and there were plenty checked by the end of the season. But now Jenna Birch has some new ones to check; at the Division I level with Oregon State.MORE NEWS: Highway 50 Back Open, I-80 Still Closed In Sierra Ahead Of July 4 Weekend
“Getting on the field you know, making it back to the Women’s College World Series. I think it would be amazing if we could do that.”