Softball was dropped from the Olympics after 2008. That exclusion has made Jennie Finch's work as an ambassador of the game even more important at the college level.
"It was devastating, seeing opportunity grow and have it taken away," Finch said of the International Olympic Committee's decision to eliminate the sport.
But Finch said that "in college the game continues to grow and it's a good sign."
Finch, who retired at the top of her game after winning the Women's Softball World Championship in 2010, continues to leave her mark on the sport she loves. She works the NCAA Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City for ESPN.
Even before they reached the championship round, Florida and Alabama were the teams that Finch identified as being special. Having won the national title with the University of Arizona in 2001, Finch knows the components of a championship team.
Alabama, the 2012 national champion, did not make it back to last year's tournament to defend its title. But Alabama's mix of veteran players, such as Jaclyn Traina, and young competitors poises them for another deep title run this year.
As expansion of the WCWS's fan base continues Finch reminds college athletes of the importance of their education through her advocacy of the Capital One Cup.
Finch serves as an Advisory Board member for the Capital One Cup, an NCAA award given to the top men and women's Division I athletics programs.
The award is based on points earned by schools' top ten finishes in the NCAA championships during the fall, winter and spring. The winning programs will receive the Capital One Cup trophy and a combined $400,000 in student-athlete scholarships at the end of the spring athletic season, according to the Capital One Cup website.
The Capital One Cup is especially great for female athletes because it recognizes the women's program, Finch said.
Reiterating the importance of the $400,000 scholarship and collegiate athlete's education, Finch said, "College education is first and foremost, anything after that is icing on the cake."
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