Jessa Snippes isn't exactly sure when it became her thing. Somewhere in her youth softball days, she thinks, along about 12U.
The thing is poise. Or call it fearlessness, or confidence, or composure. Snippes has it. Others strive for it.
It's what makes Snippes a cut above her contemporaries, what positions her as the most heralded high school softball player in Minnesota.
It's what makes Snippes, a senior who dominates as a pitcher and hitter for Rosemount, the 2023 Star Tribune Metro Player of the Year.
Snippes' coach, Tiffany Rose, says poise has been a part of Snippes' makeup since she met her. Snippes' mother, Amy, remembers others bringing it up when Jessa was making lengthy, yearly strides in her development as a youngster.
"People used to come talk to me about it," Amy Snippes said. "They'd always say, 'She has ice water in her veins.' "
Snippes is set to play for the Gophers in college and has the résumé requisite of that level.
In the circle, she mixes in spin on pitches that cross home plate at 66 miles per hour. A 5-11 righthander, she's 17-0 this season, with a 1.29 ERA and 178 strikeouts. At the plate, she sprays hits around the ballpark to the tune of a .617 batting average with four home runs and 38 RBI.
When matters get a little tight for Snippes … "I try to calm myself, take deep breaths and just think about my next pitch," she said. "I have a lot of confidence in myself. I know what I can do."
A large part of that confidence comes from her varied training. She was a dancer in her earliest years, and she still plays hockey. She was a second-line forward on the Irish girls hockey team last winter, racking up seven goals, 15 points and a team-leading 62 penalty minutes.
"Hockey helps me get my aggression out," she said.
Rose suggests hockey makes Snippes the pitcher she is. "It's great work for her legs," Rose said. "She's already in shape when the season starts."
A former college softball player who coached the Irish to the Class 4A title in 2021, Rose has detailed knowledge of what makes Snippes excel.
"Jessa has high expectations. She knows how she wants to perform and what that looks like. She holds herself to a high standard, and whether she gets a strikeout or a groundout, she doesn't change her approach. The results she gets don't just happen."
Snippes brings more than her ability to throw a ball past batters from 43 feet away.
"She's a pitcher who's outstanding at the plate," Rose said. "What separates Jessa from other pitchers is the player she is offensively. She's a pitcher who's just as good a hitter, and that will help her when she gets to college."
The deep and talented Irish have been the consensus No. 1 team in Class 4A all season. They've blown through the schedule 23-0, topping 10 runs 17 times and scoring fewer than six just twice.
After their successful 2021, Snippes admitted that the disappointment of last season, when the Irish lost twice to East Ridge in the Section 3 tournament and didn't make it to state, was never far from her thoughts.
Rosemount avenged those losses in the section final Friday, beating East Ridge 10-5 to reach the state tournament, which begins Thursday in Mankato.
Snippes said she thought before the section final that the Irish were more prepared this time around.
"[The players] felt a lot more pressure last year after winning state the year before," she said. "This year, I tried not to get caught up in all that. This season has been a lot of fun. I've been trying to soak up every moment, make every moment count."