Resilience pays off for Palmyra’s Jayme Livingstone

Less than eight months after breaking her right fibula during soccer season, Livingstone is eclipsing milestone after milestone for the Panthers’ softball team.

Palmyra junior Jayme Livingstone has been an anchor in the Panthers’ lineup the past three seasons. Livingstone has hit for a .500 or better batting average in every season of her career and recorded her 100th career hit on April 9 against Pennsauken. (Mike Monostra/South Jersey Sports Weekly)

Palmyra junior Jayme Livingstone’s month of April could be summed up in one number: 100.

In a span of two weeks, Livingstone reached three milestones. She recorded her 100th hit on April 9 against Pennsauken, scored her 100th run on April 11 against Holy Cross and recorded her 100th RBI on April 23 against Pemberton.

Those numbers show the impact Livingstone has had on the Panthers’ lineup the past three seasons. What those numbers don’t show is the difficult journey Livingstone faced en route to her magical milestone month.

In late September, Livingstone was on the field with Palmyra girls soccer at Pemberton when she suffered a broken right fibula. The injury ended her soccer season and kept Livingstone out for an extended period of time.

“I play sports year-round,” Livingstone said. “I played sports all throughout high school, I’m active in a lot of clubs. So to have to go home every day after school was really a different feeling.”

“When I would go home, I really had to just sit there and rest my leg,” Livingstone continued. “I did that for maybe a month and a half.”

Livingstone had a successful rehabilitation back from the injury. She was ready to go when Palmyra’s preseason opened in March and hasn’t missed a beat in 2019. Palmyra head coach Ken Miller believes Livingstone’s recovery is a perfect example of her work ethic and resilience.

“She’s a good kid,” Miller said. “She’ll do what it takes. She’ll go the extra mile. She’ll work.”

Livingstone was able to take a lot of positivity out of her injury recovery. She believes the injury made her a more patient person and feels that patience has made her a better softball player.

“You just have to wait and see how things play out,” she said. “I always get excited when I come up to the plate: excited, nervous, pre-game jitters, all those things. But I think just taking a second and being patient and knowing that, no matter how I feel, the game’s still going to go on, it’s not going to stop, that patience is what translated from the injury onto the field.”

Livingstone is a big believer in developing the mental side of her game. She believes her mental strength and knowledge of softball have allowed her to continue having success at the plate. Livingstone’s batting average currently sits above. 500 for her career. After batting .525 as a freshman in 2017, she topped that with a .586 average in 2018.

In mid-April, Livingstone had back-to-back games where she came up just a home run short of hitting for the cycle. Hitting home runs isn’t a focus for Livingstone. This season, she’s been working on finding a way to get on base and hitting pitches located in different spots of the strike zone.

“Because I work on different pitches and hitting in different spots in practice, those balls translate more to singles, doubles and triples,” she said.

Livingstone loves thinking about softball strategy and the various game situations she and her teammates are placed in. In her role as a team captain this year, Livingstone thinks her greatest strength is teaching her younger teammates about the mental side of the game.

“The love of the game is just the biggest thing for me,” she said. “It’s exciting, it’s fun. There’s just so many things that go into the game of softball. There’s so many different things that can happen, so many possibilities. Every time I see something new, it’s just so interesting to me.”

Miller thinks Livingstone’s leadership goes beyond strategy. He sees her as a leader who understands how to properly motivate her teammates.

“Sometimes, it’s even just the knowledge of knowing when to speak up and take charge,” Miller said. “We’re a pretty young team. (She knows) when they need her to be a little goofy and to get the mood a little light because they’re getting nervous.”

As the calendar turns to May, Livingstone is more focused than ever on helping her team to a winning record and a high seed in the South Jersey Group 1 playoffs. While she doesn’t want to relive the injury she suffered last fall, Livingstone believes her recovery and the many lessons she’s learned have made her a better player this season.

“That time being out and really focusing on getting myself better paid off,” she said.