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As a high school softball player at United Township, London Jackson was an extremely good hitter.

A .400 hitter as a junior and senior, Jackson hit a combined eight home runs, 23 doubles and drove in 35 runs. Pretty stout stats, but they don't even come close to what the freshman third baseman at Kirkwood College.

In 59 games at one of the national top junior college softball teams, Jackson is hitting .405 with 22 home runs, 16 doubles and 64 RBIs. That is not a typo, that is 22 home runs in 168 at bats. That is a home run every 7.6 at bats.

How does that happen?

"I am as shocked as anyone," Jackson said. "I guess the big thing is I did not do weight lifting as hard-core at UT as I have since I got here. I am still the same hitter as I was in high school. I haven't changed anything with my swing.

"I was as shocked as anyone when I got started this season and the ball kept flying out of the field. My thought process is the same as it was in high school, trying to get hits and get on base."

Jackson leads her teams in doubles, homers, RBIs and slugging percentage (.905) as the Eagles have rolled to a 50-15 record and are headed this week to the NJCAA Division II National Tournament starting Wednesday in Clinton, Miss.

Her 22 HRs are second best in the nation and her 64 RBIs are fifth.

In postseason play Jackson has already hit four home runs, including long balls in back-to-back blowouts of Dawson Community College this past weekend in Glendive, Mont.

"We are in the middle of a lot of travel," Jackson said. "The bus ride to Montana was 10 hours where we stopped halfway both ways. The trip to Mississippi is 13 hours, where we will stop halfway and practice.

"We lost our first game 1-0 (to Dawson). They scored a run in the first inning and we just never hit. I think it was bus lag for sure but after the game we sat down and talked about not wanting to be done now. We found ourselves and played really well."

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Jackson knows the pitching will likely be better this week and the opposition will be out to get the Eagles, who have reached the NJCAA D2 tourney each of the last five years.

"I like the idea that teams will be trying to pitch me tougher and that we will have a target on our backs," Jackson said. "We are a team that just goes out there and plays. We have fun playing and there is never any pressure on us."

With the numbers Jackson has put up this season there is likely some eyes opened by four-year schools looking at the 5-foot-2 freshman.

"We have one player from our current team who is signed to Missouri and one other player with a scholarship," she said. "My plan right now is to go back to Kirkwood next season and keep getting better.

"I am not sure if anyone is looking at me. I just know I want to go somewhere after Kirkwood and play three more years of college softball. I just know that none of this would be possible and I wouldn't be where I am today without my mom."

Along with playing in the NJCAA National Tournament this week, Jackson's coach also put her in the Home Run Derby competition.

"I won't change my swing at all," she said of the derby. "It is just hit the ball hard and if I get some lift, maybe they will go. It's mostly about fun."

That's the way she expects her and her teammates this week.

"I used to get really nervous about big games or big tournaments," she said. "Now, I'm just excited to play in the national tournament and try to keep get that national title (the previous best was third in 1983)."

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