5 Influential Figures in Softball

5 Influential Figures in Softball

Softball is still a growing sport to this day. Although it may not have the popularity of baseball in terms of a national spotlight, there is still a lot of history behind the game and those who have been associated with it. There have been many people who have positively influenced the game at all levels of competition, and left their mark on it in a way that can never be forgotten!

From players to coaches, to people working behind the scenes, there are numerous people who have had a major impact on the growth and success of the sport. Without their contributions, softball would be nowhere near the game it is today! Let's take a look at 5 of the most influential people in the sport of softball:

5. Cheri Kempf, Commissioner, National Pro Fastpitch:

Back in 2007, Kempf became the commissioner of the NPF, where she has worked non-stop to strengthen the presence and and popularity of the league. While under tenure, the league has grown to include franchised teams, as well as increased it's media coverage and sponsorship opportunities. Prior to her work as commissioner, she was a Hall-of-Fame college player, 1992 gold medalist, popular television analyst, and owned "Club K," the world's largest training facility for women's fast-pitch softball.

4. Sue Enquist, UCLA Hall-of-Fame Coach

If you want to learn how to win, just ask Sue. She holds the record for the NCAA Championships (11), and is one of the all-time winningest coaches in NCAA Softball history with an overall record of 887-175-1 (.835 winning percentage). She also produced 65 All-Americans and 12 Olympians during her 27-year coaching career at UCLA. As a player at UCLA, she became the first All-American in school history. It's easy to see why she was inducted into the Women's Sports Foundation International Hall of Fame. 

3. Jessica Mendoza, Former Olympian/ESPN Broadcaster

Mendoza broke all barriers when ESPN announced that she would be the first female broadcaster on their popular show, "Sunday Night Baseball." This was shortly after she became the first female analyst to appear on a nationally televised MLB game postseason game. Add that alongside the fact that she was also the first female analyst to appear on a "Men's College World Series" telecast. Before her broadcasting days, she was a two-time Olympian and a four-time First-Team All American during her career at Stanford.

2. Carol Hutchins, Head Coach, University of Michigan

Another example of how to win consistently. "Hutch" is now in her 33rd season as head coach of the Wolverines, where she has won more games than any other coach in NCAA Softball history (1,484 wins). She's won an NCAA Championship, and has guided her teams over the years to 19 Big Ten Conference titles. She led the Wolverines to a 52-7 record in 2016, which was their third 50-win season in four years. Safe to say she's earned her spot in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Hall of Fame. 

1. Jennie Finch, Former Olympian/University of Arizona Pitcher

Jennie is widely known as one of the most popular softball athletes to ever play the game. At Arizona, she was a three-time First-Team All-American, National Player of the Year, and even set a collegiate record by winning 60 consecutive games. As a two-time Olympian, Jennie helped guide the USA to a Gold Medal in 2004, and a Silver Medal in 2008. Her popularity stretches well outside of the ballpark, as she's made appearances on well-known shows like "Real Housewives," "Celebrity Apprentice," and has had full-feature articles in Sports Illustrated and Vanity Fair. What Michael Jordan is to basketball, Jennie Finch is to softball.

 

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