Jennie Finch won an NCAA-record 60 consecutive games at Arizona and led the Wildcats to the 2001 national title/Photo by Jerry Lai, US Presswire
Sometime in the mid 1990s, Arizona softball coach Mike Candrea took notice of Jennie Finch at a national tournament.
“I would say it would have been at 16-and-unders that I spotted her and started to follow her,” he said Tuesday. “She was a skinny little thing who could throw hard.”
Candrea and everyone in softball knew that Finch was going to be good. But how good? Nobody could have expected Finch to do what she did — at Arizona and then with Team USA, using her good looks, athletic ability and sunny personality to eventually transcending the sport nationally and internationally.
And, now, she is ready to close a chapter.
At 29, Finch announced Tuesday that she will retire from competitive softball next month. She will have a final go-round with Team USA at the World Cup of Softball in Oklahoma City this week, and then will wrap up the National Pro Fastpitch season with the Chicago Bandits.
“This whole career has been way more than I ever even imagined or dreamed,” Finch told The Associated Press. “The opportunities that I’d be able to enjoy and appreciate and be a part of, it’s been incredible.”
Finch said she wanted to devote more time to her family — husband Casey Daigle (a pitcher in the Houston Astros organization) and 4-year-old son, Ace. She said she would like to have more children.
“I’m happy for her and just very proud of the fact that she played at the University of Arizona,” Candrea said. “She has done so much for the sport. She always treated people right and did things the right way.
“It’s a sad day for softball because she was definitely good for the sport.”
I have more about Finch at FoxSportsArizona.com: Softball losing more than a pretty face
(slideshow after the jump)
Slide 1 of 15.
Source: USA SoftballSlide 2 of 15.
Jennie Finch had a perfect 32-0 record for Arizona in 2001.
Source: Tucson Citizen 2001 photoSlide 3 of 15.
Finch plays first base in an exhibition game against UCLA in 2008
Source: Kirby Lee, US PresswireSlide 4 of 15.
Softball players Jennie Finch (left) and Natasha Watley celebrate during the 2010 All-Star celebrity softball game at Angel Stadium.
Source: Kirby Lee, US PresswireSlide 5 of 15.
Jennie Finch takes a swing at the 2010 All-Star celebrity softball game at Angel Stadium.
Source: Kirby Lee, US PresswireSlide 6 of 15.
Jennie Finch runs past former Los Angeles Angels player Tim Salmon after hitting a home run during the 2010 All-Star celebrity softball game at Angel Stadium.
Source: Kirby Lee, US PresswireSlide 7 of 15.
Jennie Finch (center) arrives with other U.S. Olympic athletes for the taping of the 2008 season premier of the Oprah Winfrey Show at Millennium Park in Chicago.
Slide 8 of 15.
Jennie Finch pitches against Brazil during the Pan Am Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2007.
Source: Jason Parkhurst, US PresswireSlide 9 of 15.
Finch pitched in the 2008 Olympics for Team USA, which won the silver medal.
Source: Jerry Lai, US PresswireSlide 10 of 15.
Jennie Finch is with catcher Lauren Lappin in Team USA's 7-0 victory against Chinese Taipei in the 2008 Olympic Games.
Source: Bob Donnan, US PresswireSlide 11 of 15.
Jennie Finch high-fives Nicole Giordano during a 2001 game against ASU.
Source: Tucson CitizenSlide 12 of 15.
Jennie Finch pitches for Arizona in 2001.
Source: Tucson CitizenSlide 13 of 15.
Three aces: Jennie Finch poses with Arizona Diamonbacks Curt Schilling (left) and Randy Johnson in 2003.
Source: Tucson CitizenSlide 14 of 15.
Jennie Finch signs autographs for Tucson fans in 2004.
Source: Tucson CitizenSlide 15 of 15.
Jennie Finch gets emotional as her Arizona jersey is retired in a May 2003 ceremony at Hillenbrand Stadium.
Source: Tucson Citizen