Some softball players are all business, all the time.
That’s not J’ana Bishop.
Bishop is a senior at Franklin Towne Charter and she’s one of the most talented players in the Public League. She’s also a great leader for the Warriors, who are unbeaten in Public League play heading into the semifinals.
But Bishop loves to have fun on the field, and whenever she’s playing, she goes out of her way to make the game more enjoyable for her teammates and even her opponents.
The first baseman packs plenty of power, but even more personality and that’s what makes her such an asset to Franklin Towne.
“I feel like I’m the pick-me-up person,” said Bishop, who lives in Wissinoming. “I try to help by always being there, and I’m someone to laugh at. I’m not the serious one. I try to make it fun, especially when we’re playing a good team. It can get tense. I want people to have fun, and not be nervous.
“Honestly, I just talk about random things. Nothing, maybe a dance or a joke that I just thought out in my mind. Nothing too specific. I do whatever I can to make sure everyone is having fun. That’s just who I am.”
Bishop also makes sure her opponents are having a good time. She likes to beat them, but she also wants them to be happy.
“I’m on first, so whenever someone gets on, I’ll always talk to them,” said Bishop, who tried soccer, swimming, cheerleading, gymnastics and basketball before she settled on softball. “I’ll talk to them, tell them they had a good hit, or if they got hit with a pitch, I’ll make sure they’re all right. I’m out there to have fun and that’s what I do.”
She’s also a dynamic hitter and one of the leaders of the team.
And just as she likes to have fun, she likes to win, and this year has been perfect in that regard.
The Warriors defeated George Washington Carver 15-0 in their first playoff game in a game that was called in the third inning due to the mercy rule. Franklin Towne will move on to play in the Public League semifinals, but its next game will be Thursday when the Warriors travel to Cardinal O’Hara to face the Lions in a District 12 Class 5A championship game.
No matter what, the Warriors have at least two more games to play, but the goal is to go on a run and win the Public League championship.
For Bishop, winning is important because it means more games with her friends.
There are three seniors on this year’s team, but the Warriors don’t really see a difference among classes. They have freshman, sophomores and juniors all aiding their cause of being the best they can be.
“Honestly, I didn’t expect us to be this good this year because we didn’t have a lot of experience,” said Bishop, who has been playing softball for more than a decade. “I knew the younger players were really good, so I thought they’d be really good in the future, a year or two later, but they’re so good. They’re all playing so well.
“Last year, we had great seniors. I really feel bad that they didn’t get a chance to play. We’re playing for them. But this year has been great. I’ve loved everything about it.”
Softball has given Bishop a lot.
She hopes it produces a plaque at the end of the year, but more than anything, it’s given her friends that she will have forever.
“Softball is a great sport, it’s definitely been my favorite one,” Bishop said. “I’ve been building connections in the sport my whole life, but Franklin Towne is special. They’re my sisters. It’s great to play here because you always have someone pick you up when you’re down.”
It will be a memorable one for Bishop because this is likely her last year of competitive softball.
She will likely play for fun in the future, but next year she’s headed to West Chester University, and she’s hanging up the glove.
“I’m retiring, and I know I’m going to miss it,” Bishop said. “Next year, I’ll attend West Chester University and I’m going to study social work. I really enjoy children and seeing they’re our future, they need support.
“I want to help them the best that I can. I’ve done summer camps, daycares in previous times. I like dealing with kids. They’re very interesting. My mom works with children, she helps families in need. It’s a lot like a social worker.”
That’s where Bishop gets her inspiration.
Like mom, she’s a softball player, and like her mom, she wants to help people for a living. The pair are best friends and whenever Bishop needs help, she doesn’t have to look far.
“My mom is a huge role model for me,” Bishop said. “She’s my ride or die. Takes me to practice, early morning practice, wherever I have to be, she’s there for me.
“She played in high school. She was at Edison. She does have a trophy, but I’m not sure what it was for. Hopefully, I get one, too.”
And like her mom, she loves to work hard.
On top of playing softball and being a strong student in the classroom, she has a job.
“I work at Home Depot as a cashier,” said Bishop, who will enter the honors program at West Chester. “I love that job because you’re talking to people. You get to meet a lot of people. I love that. Sometimes it’s hard, but I always have fun. I try to make it a good day for everyone.”