Paige Nowacki hit the 32nd home run of her Georgia State career on March 26 versus Kennesaw State. The solo shot was the lone tally of the game, giving the Panthers a 1-0 victory.
The blast also tied here with former teammate, Lauren Jones, for the most in school history.
Jones played for the Panthers from 2008-2011. She finished her career with 32 home runs, 134 RBI (second most in school history) and was a two-time All-CAA performer.
The Signal recently spoke with Jones, who is currently a graduate assistant working with the Georgia State football program, about her own home run record and Nowacki’s pursuit of it.
The Signal- How did you feel when you hit that 32nd homer against FSU in 2011?
Lauren Jones- “Words cannot explain how I felt when I hit the 32nd. It was in a very important game, against a top pitcher at FSU. She had a wicked change-up and I knew that was the pitch I wanted to hit. It was in front of a large crowd so I was feeling pretty powerful at that moment in time. However, when I was up to bat, the thought never crossed my mind. I only wanted to get on base, in hopes of giving my team a better chance of winning. I never tried to hit one out. I only wanted to get on base. “
TS- Did you think back then there would be a possibility that it could be broken by a former teammate of yours, further down the line by someone you never played with, or never was going to get broken at all?
LJ- “I knew that we had a strong team and that my record probably wouldn’t last too long. I remember when speaking to the media after we lost, they asked me about breaking the record and I stated, “Well, we’ll see how long it lasts.” I broke a record that was 10 years old, so that was an accomplishment of mine. I honestly had no doubts that one of my former teammates would do it, and I really believed it would be Paige.”
TS- When did you find out about Nowacki tying your home run record?
LJ- “I found out the day of. I keep up with the team. Unfortunately, being so busy with football, I haven’t been out to watch as many games as I’d like. I made sure to congratulate Paige the day after. I’m proud of her. She was always my competition, and I mean that in a good way. Paige made me a better player and I like to think that I did the same for her. That is why, if anyone is to break it, I’m glad it’s going to be her. Us, Henry County kids have to represent.”
TS- How did you feel about Nowacki tying it?
LJ- “Records are meant to be broken. They are something put in place to help athletes achieve more, be more. Back in 2011, it was my time to shine. I helped lead my team to a conference championship. Now, it’s Paige’s turn. She just better heal up so she can get back out there.”
TS- Despite Nowacki currently out with an injury, do you still think she can come back before the season ends and break your record?
LJ- “I have no doubts that Paige will get back out there. They still have a lot more games to play. An injury won’t stop her for long.”
TS- If she was to break it, how do you think you will feel?
LJ- “Of course, I would have liked to see my record last a little longer, but if anyone was to break it, I want it to be Paige. She’s a strong player and leader on the 2013 team. It’s her senior year and I want her to succeed and have the same feelings that I felt when I broke the record in 2011.”
TS- Do you have any plans to attend any softball games this season if she was to return from injury to possibly witness your record being broken?
LJ- “I do have plans to attend more games this season. I’m finishing up my MSW degree right now, so it’s been a busy semester. Once my classes start to die down, I plan on being out there every weekend. “
TS- Have you and Nowacki talked at all this season as she got closer to tying your record?
LJ- “We live in the same apartment complex, we’re all really close friends. Paige comes over to hang out with my roommates (who are former teammates as well) and I pretty often. Now that she has tied it, I want her to break it. A home run is a run, giving the team a better chance of winning. “
TS- I see you and Nowacki played together for two seasons, what was it like playing with her?
LJ- “Yes, we played together for 2 seasons, I lived with her for one, and I helped coach her 3rd season at GSU. As stated before, Paige was my competition. It’s always good to have someone on your team to fight against. We made each other better players. If it wasn’t for her and the other girls on the team, I would never have accomplished what I did my senior year. I’m thankful for her and all the other girls who made it possible. We made history that year. I loved every minute of it and that season is one I will never forget for the rest of my life.”
*We have arranged to speak with Paige Nowacki once she is healthy and able to participate with the rest of the team. The April 23 issue of The Signal will contain our interview with the senior slugger.