OKLAHOMA CITY – Two-time Olympian and NCAA Women’s College World Series (WCWS) Champion Jennie Finch has been named Youth Softball Ambassador, Major League Baseball (MLB) announced today. Finch will support MLB’s Youth Programs with initiatives and strategies that are designed to grow softball at the amateur and youth levels. In addition to her duties as an ambassador of softball, she will also support an effort to promote girls baseball. A tentative list of softball- and baseball-focused events at which she is scheduled to represent MLB include the “Trail Blazer” Girls Baseball Tournament, Softball Breakthrough Series, Church Softball Tournament, PLAY BALL Park as part of All-Star Week, Softball Elite Development Invitational, and the softball portion of RBI World Series.
“It is an honor to serve in this new role with Major League Baseball to grow the sport that has given so much to me and millions of girls and women throughout the country,” said Finch. “Together, we will promote youth participation at the grassroots level while also helping develop the skills of players ready for the next level. This is a really special time for softball and I am thrilled to play a small part in this effort to increase opportunities to play the greatest game ever created.”
Finch, the current host of USA Softball’s Softball 360 TV show, led the USA Softball Women’s National Team to the gold and silver at the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games, respectively. Finch graduated from the University of Arizona in 2002 after a record-breaking softball career, including a perfect junior season on the mound (32-0) and an NCAA WCWS Championship in 2001. Finch also pitched for the Chicago Bandits in the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) league from 2005 to 2010. She continues to host instructional softball camps throughout the country.
“Jennie Finch is one of the most accomplished female athletes in history and we are thrilled she will be assisting us to grow the game of softball,” said MLB Senior Vice President of Youth Programs, Tony Reagins. “Increasing youth and amateur participation is a central goal for our department. We know that Jennie’s passion, insight and talent will be invaluable to our efforts during this special moment for our sport.”
Finch’s appointment is the latest in a string of efforts by MLB to increase softball participation. In June 2016, USA Softball began their partnership with MLB, particularly focusing on “PLAY BALL,” an initiative to encourage widespread participation in all forms of baseball and softball activities. USA Softball and MLB also created the inaugural Softball Breakthrough Series (BTS) in 2016. Similar to Baseball BTS events, the Softball Breakthrough Series is designed to promote softball as a viable collegiate option for youth from underrepresented and underserved communities. The event is completely cost-free for participants, who are selected by invitation only. The 2017 Softball Breakthrough Series will be held June 11-15 in Oklahoma City.
“We are excited and honored that MLB has named Jennie as the Youth Softball Ambassador,” said USA Softball Executive Director, Craig Cress. “Her accomplishments, both on and off the field, and her ability to inspire athletes will greatly enhance and support the initiative by MLB, USA Baseball, and USA Softball to grow our sports at all levels.”