Every time James Madison has taken the field over the last several years, chances were good that Kate Gordon’s impact was going to be felt. Whether with her powerful bat or commanding presence around the diamond, rarely did a game go by that the energetic star wasn’t a factor.
As a freshman in 2017, Gordon appeared in 34 games as a part-time starter, and joined the lineup as the catcher when she did start. For the following three years, though, she started every game that she played in and cemented a spot in the Dukes’ starting outfield.
Gordon improved statistically every year of her career – during her last full season in 2019, she batted .420 with 23 home runs – and the 2020 campaign was shaping up to truly be her finest before things came to a screeching halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Even with the abrupt end to the year, Gordon still took away some major highlights from the abbreviated year.
In what would ultimately be one of the final few games of the season, Gordon secured her spot at the top of one of the program’s most prestigious offensive records. It was her team’s first home game of the year, and despite an eventual loss in a back-and-forth affair, Gordon gave JMU fans something to watch as she set the program’s career home run record. The star slugger reached double-digit home runs for the third consecutive season, but says she didn’t even realize that she was closing in on and surpassing such a record.
“”At the beginning of the year, I had no idea how many I needed,” Gordon said. “Some fans started telling me after tournaments and stuff, but I never thought about it myself. And I didn’t realize [about breaking the record]until the school announced it and my teammates were cheering. I really don’t think a lot about that kind of thing, but it was pretty cool.”
Even as she set records and registered eye-popping statistics, Gordon’s primary focus was always her team’s success. “I think we’re gritty,” she noted. “We fight, no matter what. It’s an honor to be on the field with all of these amazing pitchers and hitters, and an honor being their teammate and friend. I really like it when they’re in the spotlight a little bit more than me.”
Just as important as her team-first approach is Gordon’s laser-like focus on the final prize; it’s a trait she learned early in life. “When I was a kid, my dad would always tell me, ‘good job, but the game’s not over’. I couldn’t think about what I’d done and stuff, and I’ve just kept that mindset, going through high school and my whole college career. I don’t ever look at how many home runs I’ve hit or hits or anything else. I just go into an event like, ‘this is just another game, and I need to do what I need to do to help this team.'”
Gordon has unfinished business in Harrisonburg, and she is officially coming back for one final year. Following the NCAA’s extended eligibility waiver for would-be 2020 seniors, Gordon announced that she will return to James Madison for the 2021 campaign. “[I] can’t wait to put #17 on again next year!” Gordon wrote in a recent social media post, adding that she will take continuing education courses to meet the minimum class requirements for eligibility.