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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Jennie Finch returns to Tucson

Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat

The UA softball team hosted the National All-Stars at Hillenbrand Stadium Monday, Oct. 4, 2010, in Tucson, Ariz. Several former Wildcat players including Jennie Finch and Chelsea Mesa took the field in a 9-0 UA loss.
Mike Christy
Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat The UA softball team hosted the National All-Stars at Hillenbrand Stadium Monday, Oct. 4, 2010, in Tucson, Ariz. Several former Wildcat players including Jennie Finch and Chelsea Mesa took the field in a 9-0 UA loss.

Things came full circle for Jennie Finch yesterday.

After the softball legend announced her retirement from the game of softball at the age of 29, Arizona head coach Mike Candrea wanted to make sure Finch got to play at Hillenbrand Stadium one last time.

“”It’s so very special,”” said Finch, who pitched at Arizona from 1999-2002. “”I’m so grateful to Coach when he called me and asked ‘Would you be willing to play?’ Oh my gosh, what a cool thing, and so I was very excited and looking forward to this night.””

Finch, along with four other former Arizona players — Taryne Mowatt, Caitlin Lowe, Mackenzie Vandergeest and Chelsie Mesa — made the return with the National Pro Fastpitch All-Stars in the Back to School Tour.

“”It’s nice to be able to bring back some of the people that have paved the road, put some of those banners up on the wall for us, so our young kids can see it in person,”” Candrea said.

Finch, who played first base during the exhibition, made an immediate impact in the box and in the circle for Arizona. She won a national championship in 2001 and was named an All-American pitcher three times in her college career.

Finch has been a part of two Olympic squads, bringing home a gold medal in the Athens 2004 games and a silver medal in the Beijing 2008 games.

But after her final game, Finch seemed content with her decision to step away from the game she loved.

“”I’ve been overwhelmingly blessed in so many ways by this great game,”” Finch said. “”I want to help continue to grow that opportunity and make it there even more so for the future of our sport and those are the young girls dreaming of playing Arizona softball and playing for the USA team and playing in the pro league.

“”I look forward to the next step and the next phase because I feel like now I’ll be able to give even more so than I did when I was playing because of the schedule and the training that we had to go through.””

Finch has a 4-year-old son, Ace, with husband and major league baseball player Casey Daigle. She said she plans on spending her time with her family and focusing on being a mother.

Candrea said that although she has accomplished so much for the sport, Finch’s decision to call it quits is something that she has well deserved.

“”I think if any athlete that has put the time and effort into the game that she has, I think people may recognize game night, but they don’t recognize what happens the other seven, eight months to prepare and keep your body in shape,”” Candrea said. “”I think right now she’s decided, she wants to be a mom, she wants to maybe have another kid. I’m proud of what she’s done for the sport, and I’m more proud of who she is and what she’s accomplished. “”

Over 2,600 fans welcomed Finch back to the diamond. She received a standing ovation in the middle of the fourth inning when the game was briefly interrupted to honor Finch and the rest of the returning Wildcats.

“”Tonight was a celebration. What an incredible homecoming to walk into this field, stadium and just see it packed,”” Finch said. “”So many fond memories, so many friends, fans, young girls, awesome night. So a lot of emotion but what an enjoyable, incredible way to end my days on the playing field.””

Finch will return to Hillenbrand on Oct. 22 for the Arizona Alumni Game. Mowatt, Lowe, Vandergeest and Mesa are also scheduled to be in attendance.

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