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Spigner started softball early, led Bethlehem Catholic to playoff success

Bethlehem Catholic softball's Jaden Spigner

Bethlehem Catholic High School's Jaden Spigner is the lehighvalleylive.com Softball Player of the Year. Saed Hindash | For lehighvalleylive.comSaed Hindash | For lehighvalleylive.com

Bethlehem Catholic senior center fielder Jaden Spigner displayed her strong swing at a very early age.

“When I was 3, my mother (Lauren) purchased a Wiffle ball set and I decided to play inside,” Spigner said. “With my first ever swing, the ball flew across the room and broke the plastic handle off of our new vacuum.”

Spigner’s great uncle and Bethlehem Catholic softball coach Rich Mazza noticed her athletic ability during family gatherings.

“We used to see her on holidays and I’d watch her running around when she was a little kid,” Mazza said. “My brother Jim had a swimming pool and stuff when he lived up here. We all used to gather there for holidays. I’d see this kid running around and I said to my brother, ‘she’s a heck of an athlete.’ She was a little young yet to be too involved with sports.”

She grew up to be a key component to successful Golden Hawk teams over the past few years.

For helping lift Bethlehem Catholic from a rough start to a state semifinal berth, Spigner is the 2021 lehighvalleylive.com Softball Player of the Year.

“This season was certainly exciting,” Spigner said. “After being deprived of a junior year, I really just wanted to come back and have fun with my teammates and make lasting memories because I knew it was my last chance, and that’s exactly what happened. We had a rough start but were able to bounce back and make it far into the state playoffs. So, I’m really proud of what we were able to accomplish.”

Spigner batted .443 with 39 RBIs, 23 runs and 19 extra-base hits, including three homers.

She made first team on the Pennsylvania High School Softball Coaches Association in Class 4A.

Bethlehem Catholic softball's Jaden Spigner

Bethlehem Catholic High School's Jaden Spigner is the lehighvalleylive.com Softball Player of the Year. Saed Hindash | For lehighvalleylive.comSaed Hindash | For lehighvalleyl

From tough start to state semifinals

The Golden Hawks started the season 0-4, but their first victory over talented Freedom catapulted them to bigger things.

“I definitely think the turning point for us this season was our first win, which was against Freedom,” Spigner said. “Freedom was projected to be in the running for the EPC and district titles because they were laden with seniors who had lots of experience. They were going to be a tough opponent to beat, and we were fully aware of that. Winning that game 2-1 was one of the most fun and joyful experiences I’ve had, and I could see the confidence increase in my team because they saw what we were capable of doing.”

The senior hit three doubles and piled up five RBIs in the Golden Hawks’ 15-5 win over Blue Mountain in the district semifinals.

Spigner followed that up by going 4-for-5 with a two-run homer in Bethlehem Catholic’s 11-4 victory over Northwestern Lehigh in the district championship game.

She hit a two-run single in the Golden Hawks’ 6-0 win over Villa Joseph Marie in the state quarterfinals.

The season not only gave Spigner a chance to win a district championship, but an opportunity to experience some normalcy in a world with COVID precautions.

“With the pandemic occurring, we missed some of our junior year, and I, as a fully remote student, felt pretty removed from the school atmosphere this year,” Spigner said. “This senior class wasn’t able to experience or participate in many typical ‘senior year’ activities, and those events that were available to us were modified and limited in ways. Softball was actually my favorite part of the year because it provided me with some normalcy. I drove to school every day in the spring and was able to see some of my friends in person as they left the building, as well as spend the next two hours with my teammates practicing or playing in a game.”

Bethlehem Catholic softball's Jaden Spigner

Bethlehem Catholic High School's Jaden Spigner is the lehighvalleylive.com Softball Player of the Year. Saed Hindash | For lehighvalleylive.comSaed Hindash | For lehighvalleyl

Family filled with athletes

Spigner definitely has sports in her blood as her brother Julian and their parents Lauren and Larry Spigner were all successful athletes. They all went on to play at Lafayette College with the parents competing in basketball and her brother being a wide receiver for the Leopards after playing quarterback at Becahi.

“Following him at Bethlehem Catholic was interesting because Julian was always very outgoing and talkative and I tend to be more quiet and reserved,” Spigner said. “As far as athletics go, my brother set a great example of showing me how hard work and determination can pay off with opportunities to play in college. My entire family is very sports-oriented. My parents both played basketball at Lafayette College, and my mother was named The Express-Times Girls Basketball Player of the Year in 1988, so I have many role models to look to when it comes to athletics.”






Spigner plans to major in biology while following a pre-veterinarian track and playing softball at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster.

“Coach (Brad) Brubaker and Coach (Keith) Keener at Franklin & Marshall are extremely nice and accommodating. They always kept in contact and made efforts to help me pursue my desired pre-veterinary medicine career at F & M by identifying programs I could partake in,” Spigner said. “F & M has a great academic reputation, and knowing that this is likely the last four years I will be playing organized softball, I wanted to ensure that I attended a school that would prepare me for the next phase of my life.”

Bethlehem Catholic advanced to the state championship game in Spigner’s freshman season and finished one victory away from the PIAA Class 4A title game this spring.

But for Spigner, the most memorable moments involved teammates and coaches, including her great uncle.

“When you get involved with family and kids, it can create problems. But it’s been unbelievable. It’s been a wonderful ride,” Mazza said. “She’s such a fabulous kid. If I ever did have to let her know that something that we wanted to do a little different as far as something she was doing on the playing field, she always did everything she possibly could to make that happen. She was an extremely coachable player. She was a wonderful leader. She’s not always the most outspoken person, but she would lead by example. She would always run on and off the field. Just a great kid.”

“As cheesy as it sounds, the thing I’ll remember most about my softball career at Beca is the people I’ve met and played with,” Spigner said. “You can win every title and award, but how much is it really worth if the team you won it with has a poor relationship and you have no fond memories to look back on of one another? I have made some of the greatest friendships this season that I hope last a lifetime. It’s also important for the entire team and coaching staff to get along and be cohesive. Forming bonds with each individual teammate and coach I’ve had has been the most rewarding experience. I especially enjoyed spending time with my great uncle, Coach Rich Mazza, and making memories and constantly joking around with him. I’ll certainly miss having him as my coach.”

Bethlehem Catholic softball's Jaden Spigner

Bethlehem Catholic High School's Jaden Spigner is the lehighvalleylive.com Softball Player of the Year. Saed Hindash | For lehighvalleylive.comSaed Hindash | For lehighvalleyl

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Josh Folck may be reached at jfolck@lehighvalleylive.com.