SB Nation Arizona was able to interview former Arizona Wildcat and Team USA softball star Jennie Finch, now that the Women's College World Series is going on and also because she is involved with the Capital One Cup that will recognize a men's and a women's athletic program for outstanding performance across all sports and award over $400,000 scholarships for student-athletes in those programs.
She retired two years ago from softball to dedicate time to her young family, but she is now back in the game somewhat. She helped commentate the super regionals and is on the advisory board for what Capital One is doing.
As a former Arizona Wildcat, she "bleed(s) red and blue," so it was disappointing to her when her alma mater was eliminated by Oklahoma in the super regionals.
"I've been a Wildcat and I want to see them there (in the WCWS)," she said. "It was rough to watch them because they got beat so bad by Oklahoma. It was disheartening because you don't want to see that for the Wildcats. At least I think had it been a closer game, it would have been easier on the heart to watch."
However, despite her passion for the Wildcats, because of her appreciation for the game of softball, it hasn't been as big a deal to see Arizona State advance in the WCWS.
"You have to root for the Pac-12 at this point," she explained. "It's just great to see great softball being played. There is that rivalry, but at this point...I'm just a fan of the game."
She thinks that ASU has a pretty good chance in the WCWS.
"I think they are great. They are the defending national champions. They have the experience. I did commentate them in the super regionals. I did call that game they did lose to Louisiana-Lafayette. I think it just proves that on any given night anyone can win, but they could come back the next day and just simply crush Louisiana Lafayette. Their bats were on fire -- home run after home run. So I think they are peaking at the right time and that was great momentum going into the College World Series, Dallas (Escobedo) is tough on the mound. I though she had an off-day on Thursday but she bounced back and was lights out on Friday."
However, she thinks that Oklahoma should be the favorites to win it, although ASU and Cal will be tough because of the tough Pac-12 schedule they play.
She noted how softball has grown so much at the collegiate level. "It's never been any greater. It just continues to grow and we're seeing more and more programs going with multi-million dollar stadiums," she marveled. "It's incredible to see the stability."
"You can see the parity evolving, and see how much the game has grown. You look at yesterday (Thursday) we broke the record of attendance and that was with the Oklahoma City Thunder playing too in the semi-finals. It is just incredible to see the growth of it...It's exciting to see as a fan."
Unfortunately, there is one obstacle for the sport, and that is the fact that it, along with baseball, was eliminated from the Summer Olympics. She is working hard to try and get it back in .
"One of the things is that the Europeans have a strong presence on the Olympic Committee and baseball and softball are not as popular in Europe as they are in the US," she said, explaining why it was eliminated. "But now we have to get over the why's and just keep petitioning really hard and hopefully try and get it back in."
What will that take?
"A lot of hard work and petitioning. The ISF (International Softball Federation) really needs to step up to the plate and put on a good campaign to enable us to be in the right position to be back in."