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Michigan Wolverines vs. Northwestern Wildcats Softball Game 2 Sharon J. Drysdale Field Evanston, IL April 3, 2022 (Ryan Kuttler/Northwestern Athletics)

In the Game – Jordyn Rudd

CGHS Grad Jordyn Rudd Catches a Wave of Success

Writer / Kevin Conrad
Photography Provided by Northwestern University Athletics and the Rudd Family
Jordyn Rudd

Michigan Wolverines vs. Northwestern Wildcats Softball Game 2 Sharon J. Drysdale Field Evanston, IL April 3, 2022 (Ryan Kuttler/Northwestern Athletics)

From a 2015 state championship to an appearance in the 2022 Women’s College World Series, Center Grove High School (CGHS) graduate Jordyn Rudd’s impressive softball career is not over yet. Last spring Rudd was instrumental in helping the Northwestern University (NU) Wildcats to their best softball season in school history. Rudd had a career-high four hits, three runs batted in, and scored the go-ahead run in a pivotal game-three win over Arizona State in the NCAA super regional to send NU to the 2022 Women’s College World Series. It was the first time NU had advanced to the series.

“This season was expected,” says Rudd, a 2018 CGHS grad. “Our team knew we would get that far and we were glad that we had so many people in the stands, on TV, on social media, etcetera, that cared for and supported us. This season we fought and never gave up because we truly believed in one another, which is a reason we were successful. Our road to the Women’s College World Series was hard but so bittersweet.”

Rudd played for the late Hall of Fame Coach Russ Milligan at CGHS from 2015 to 2018. As a freshman, Rudd helped the Trojans win the Class 4A state title in 2015, the fifth and final state championship for Milligan. Milligan retired from coaching following Rudd’s senior season in 2018 and passed away in 2021.

“Center Grove helped prepare me for college softball by allowing me to play with and against talented players that were able to push me on the field,” Rudd says. “Coach Milligan was instrumental in helping me with having a tough mentality for college softball, and dealing with my failures. My teammates allowed me to have a fun time and I created great friendships through that experience.”

Here are a few of Rudd’s impressive high school and college accolades:

2018 PGF High School All-American

2018 CGHS Female Athlete of the Year

2017, 2018 Indiana Gatorade Player of the Year Finalist

2017 Johnson County Female Athlete of the Year

2016, 2017, 2018 First-Team All-State

2022 Inaugural Rawlings Gold Glove Award Recipient

2022 NCAA Johnny Bench Award Winner

2022 NCAA Defensive Player of the Year

2022 Softball America Third-Team All-American

2019, 2021, 2022 First-Team All-Big Ten

Rudd was caught off guard when she found out she was the first female catcher to win the Gold Glove award.

Jordyn Rudd“We were at the Women’s College World Series and just finished up media day and practice, which was a long day,” Rudd says. “We’re heading back when my head coach and my pitching coach, along with our media team, said I needed to go back for one last interview. As we got there I walked into a room and there was an entire press conference with some of the best players in the game, past and present, holding a Gold Glove. I was stunned and it was an amazing experience. One of my Major League Baseball idols, Yadier Molina of the St. Louis Cardinals, has won the award multiple times and it was another piece of my childhood that felt complete after receiving this.”

Hall of Fame inductee and former Cincinnati Reds catcher Johnny Bench presented Rudd with the Johnny Bench Award for being the best collegiate defensive softball catcher in 2022.

“My father is a huge Johnny Bench fan and he taught me a lot from his style of catching,” Rudd says. “When I got the call from Mr. Bench that I had received his award, my dad freaked out and was so excited. He was amazing and the experience was a dream that I have always had, and a dream my dad has had too. It was great for us, after all these years of learning Mr. Bench’s style of catching and mimicking a lot of what he does, to be able to say that I won an award from my childhood idol.”

Rudd credits her success to her family, friends, coaches and teammates. One of her best friends and former CGHS teammates, Abby Herbst of the University of Wisconsin, is extremely proud of what Rudd has accomplished.

“Jordyn has always been a hard worker,” Herbst says. “She always used to talk about how much she would hit on her own at home. She deserves everything she has gotten and after playing against her in the Big Ten, that hard work has continued. She always steps up in the big moments. That’s how you can tell she is a real competitor and is the best kind of athlete. She never quits when it gets hard.”

“My family is the entire reason I am the person and player I am today,” Rudd says. “My sister is a pitcher at Southern Illinois and she would pitch to me, hit with me, and she pushed me and supported me along the way. My sister is my best friend and is one of my biggest supporters. My mom is the backbone of our family and she made sure if we needed to be somewhere or needed new gear or anything, she would find a way. She is the best and the reason I am strong academically, and mentally tough in the game. My dad helped me be a strong player that understood the game. We always talk about softball and he has helped me learn how to be the best I can be. There is no one like my mom or dad or sister, and I can’t find the words to describe how amazing they are. My fiancé has been a huge supporter of mine and comes to almost every game.”

Rudd has one year remaining with the Wildcats. Her goal for the 2023 season is simple.

“I want to go to the World Series again and win it all,” she says. “My goal is to help get my team back there so we can experienceJordyn Rudd that dream again.”

Rudd graduated in June with a major in political science and a minor in business. She will complete a master’s degree in sports administration in June of 2023. Once she hangs up the catcher’s mitt for good, she wants to pursue a career in softball coaching at the collegiate level.

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