BANGOR, Maine — A strong strength and conditioning program is a key component to any athlete’s success — especially pitchers.

John Bapst High School junior ace righthander Laura Jordan took that to heart this off-season.

Jordan, who had solid freshman and sophomore campaigns while helping lead the Crusaders to the Eastern Maine Class B playoffs, headed to the Bangor-Brewer Athletic Club in Brewer to work with personal trainer Wendy Watkins.

“It was my idea to get more in shape because it’s my junior year and I’m definitely looking at playing in college,” Jordan said before her Crusaders scrimmaged Bangor on Thursday.

“I’ve been doing it for two months now. I’ve really improved a lot.”

Jordan worked with Watkins three days a week for a month, and enjoyed it so much she decided to stick with it, returning to BBAC two days a week.

Most of the workouts were designed to improve Jordan’s arm endurance and durability and prevent injuries.

“It was more evening out my arms because my right arm was stronger than my left arm,” Jordan said. “It was more evening out my back and my arms to prevent injury and stuff.”

Jordan has noticed a lot of improvements not only with her velocity, but her endurance in the circle.

“I can pitch a lot longer now without getting tired as quick,” she said. “It’s easier for me to throw without breathing heavy and keeping my heart rate down.”

That’s mainly attributed to endurance workouts Jordan participated in known as “kamikaze” workouts, which involved doing cardiovascular exercises to get Jordan’s heart rate up, followed by hitting the weights.

“It was more getting my heart rate up and learning how to lift with my heart rate up,” she explained.

Those workouts have also improved Jordan’s core strength and power in her push-off leg, and she’s also noticing improvements in her hitting and ability to field her position.

“My legs are a lot stronger so I’m able to use a lot more power in my legs and my core’s a lot stronger,” she said.

Besides the personal training, Jordan worked hard in the off-season with pitching coach Bob Mercer on improving her breaking balls.

“I developed my drop ball a lot and I’m working on my slider,” Jordan said.

Mercer also works with two of Class B’s other top pitchers in Abby Yeo of Bucksport and Tayla Trask of Mattanawcook Academy.

Jordan expects her Crusaders to make another run at the playoffs this spring. John Bapst was eliminated by Old Town in the preliminary round last season.

“A lot of the girls have also been working out too and we’ve been doing a lot of team bonding and team strength- building stuff on our own,” she said.

Jordan was certainly looking forward to the scrimmage with Bangor – she played with the Rams’ Sadie Redman, Hannah Cust and cousin Kim Jordan over the summer.

“I think it’s really good for us, it [gave] us a chance for us to bat against really good pitching, it [gave] us a good chance to really show what we have.”

Who will it be in ‘D?’

That same question that a lot of people were asking in November prior to the tip-off of the high school basketball season is a similar one that’s being asked now: Who will be the cream of the Class D softball crop now that reigning state champion Woodland is in Class C?

Southern Aroostook of Dyer Brook has a talented returning cast after earning the top seed in the region last spring and falling to Woodland in the semifinals. Limestone/Maine School of Science and Mathematics earned a trip to the regional finals while Bangor Christian, which won the regional crown two years ago, traditionally fields contending teams.

Among the Warriors’ key returnees are sisters Evangeline and Elizabeth Goodall, with Evangeline handling the pitching and Elizabeth doing the catching.

Southern Aroostook opened its season Monday at Limestone while Bangor Christian kicked things off at home against Class C foe Penobscot Valley of Howland.

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Ryan McLaughlin

BDN sports reporter Ryan McLaughlin grew up in Brewer and is a lifelong fan of the New England Patriots, Boston Red Sox, Boston Celtics and Boston Bruins. In "The Boston Blitz" he'll be sharing his perspective...