Jessica Hughes throws righthanded and bats lefthanded, just like her brother.

The Washington Township High School senior grew up wanting to emulate her brother's play in baseball. What she didn't know was that her admiration for him would later push her to become one of South Jersey's best softball players.

"I like making him proud," Hughes said of Shaine, who is a redshirt freshman infielder at Monmouth. "Growing up and watching him play, it just made me always want to play."

Hughes was raised in a baseball-loving family. She spent her childhood playing wiffle ball with Shaine and their neighbors in a backyard.

The shortstop has 151 career hits after a junior year in which she batted .630 with 58 hits, 44 runs, 31 stolen bases, 16 doubles, 4 triples, and 2 homers.

She's hoping to get 200 career hits before taking her talents to Fordham University next year.

"That's my number-one goal for this year, so that would mean a lot to me," Hughes said, remembering how happy she was reaching the 100 mark.

And she knows her family will be right there cheering for her.

"At least someone is at every game," Hughes said of her family. "It's awesome because some people don't have that, and I just couldn't imagine not having them."

But while her family takes the bleachers, Hughes conquers the field with her teammates - her other family.

"We really have a great connection on this team," Hughes said. "[The seniors] have all played together since we were 10 years old."

Hughes described the dynamic of her team as constant laughter, jokes, and dancing - a fun attitude that focuses on their love for the sport and allows them to succeed.

"We're friends first before teammates," Hughes said.

A captain on the team, Hughes leads by example and makes her teammates feel comfortable talking to her about problems, according to coach Tracy Burkhart.

"She has a desire to win, a desire to get better," Burkhart said. "She just always tries to improve and tries to perfect her game."

With that, Hughes is expecting big things for her senior season. After winning a state championship during her sophomore year, she knows the feeling of success and wants her team to experience that again - and she believes that this year's team can do it.

"You want to win with people who you love, and I think that's why we're going to do well this year," Hughes said.

And, of course, batting and throwing like her brother, she plans to make him proud.