Thursday, October 8, 2015

Where Are They Now: Samantha DeMartine

Who is she? Samantha DeMartine, a former slugging infielder for the Kentucky Wildcats.

What is she known for? DeMartine was part of the 2011 UK squad that upset the Michigan Wolverines in Ann Arbor to advance to the Super Regional round of the NCAA tournament. In her senior season that same year, she batted .306 with ten home runs and thirty-four RBI. For her career, she boasted twenty longballs and ninety RBI.

Here's something interesting... As a high-school softball standout in New York state, DeMartine was five-times named an all-State selection.

Quotable quote: "I have learned that it is beneficial to continually seek the life lessons that come with our sport. Whether that is through winning, losing, succeeding, and/or struggling."

What's she up to now? Since 2013, DeMartine has been the head softball coach at Asbury University, an NAIA school in Wilmore, Kentucky. In 2.5 seasons in the position, DeMartine holds a .424 winning percentage and her Eagles were the conference tournament runners-up in 2014, her first full season on the job.

Contact information: You can find DeMartine on Twitter @SDeMartine22

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Victoria Hayward Steps Into Justin's World

Photo credit: Bridget Raftery
The name Victoria Hayward is one that will be familiar to fans of every level of the game of softball - whether college, professional, or international softball is your cup of tea, Hayward has made an impact and left a mark in every place she's suited up.

A three-time all-conference selection and an all-American her senior year, Hayward's purple-and-gold trophy case is filled nearly to the max.

She joined Team Canada in 2009; a junior in high school, she was the youngest-ever member of the National Team. Despite the sport's elimination from the Olympic Games, Hayward continues to suit up with a maple leaf on her jersey every summer.

Drafted by the Pennsylvania Rebellion in 2014, following her final and arguably best collegiate season, Hayward did not to play in the league, instead continuing to concentrate her attention fully on the Canadian national squad.

In 2015, though, she followed the lead of former teammate and fellow Canuck Jenny Gilbert in splitting her summer between the NPF and Team Canada.

After spending the 2015 collegiate season in the Bayou as a graduate assistant for the LSU Tigers, Hayward was named an assistant coach at UMass for 2016, where she will join fellow Husky alum and former teammate Kaitlin Inglesby.

Justin’s World: How did you get started playing softball?
Victoria Hayward: My softball playing days started shortly after moving to Northern California at the age of 8.  My Dad signed me up for the local softball league and volunteered to coach.  The local disposal company, Foothill Disposal, sponsored our team so naturally we called ourselves the “Garbage Girls” (although our official name was the “Snapping Turtles”).  That year I made the Mountain View All-Star team with a bunch of my friends, and the rest is history!   

Justin’s World: Why UDub? What did you like about the school and program that made you say "this is where I want to spend my college years"?
Victoria Hayward: The first time I set foot on the campus of the University of Washington, I was a senior in high school and it was my “official visit”. Even for a few years ago, that was incredibly late in the process and I was truly lucky that Washington even had a place for me. Having played the summer after my junior year in high school alongside Huskies Danielle Lawrie and Jenn Salling, I knew a lot about the culture of the program long before I witnessed any of it for myself.  I had toured the Seattle-area before, driving by and admiring the campus from afar, but once I was given the grand tour and saw how I would fit, I fell in love.  The cherry on top, sealing the deal, was when I had the chance to try on one of the uniforms – getting the chills as I looked in the mirror and showed my family.  My dream had always been to compete in the Pac-12 (Pac-10 at the time) and the academics, beautiful campus, amazing stadium and family culture were unmatched by any school that I had ever visited. I knew I was exactly where I was meant to be: in the purple and gold. 

Justin’s World: What was/is your favorite part of being a Huskie?
Victoria Hayward: My favorite part about being a Husky is being a part of the amazing athletic community.  As a student-athlete, this meant supporting fellow athletes at their games/events, being a part of the leadership group WASAAC, eating dinner together every night in the crew boathouse, and creating friendships with people and fans that I will keep in touch with for the rest of my life.  As an alum, I am still connected to the athletic community no matter whether I am in Seattle working out in the weight room or across the world pursuing my dreams. I can constantly feel the support of Washington and all of the fans.

Justin’s World: What is your favorite moment or memory from your career?
Victoria Hayward: My favorite memory from my career was winning the Super Regional at Missouri in 2013.  Those two games were THE most competitive and intense games of softball I have ever been a part of.  Individually, it stands as my favorite memory because I hit in the game-winning run with an RBI double in the 8th inning of game one and a leadoff home run that stood to be the game winning run in game two to send us to the World Series.  Just thinking about it makes me smile.  Aside from my performance, the games highlighted stellar pitching by both teams and SportsCenter Top-10 plays on defense – I mean, can you ask for anything more?!

Justin’s World: Who was the toughest opponent you have faced, either an individual or team?
Victoria Hayward: The toughest opponent that I have ever faced is Team Japan. I am continually amazed by the way they play the game – the speed and precision.  Although we have beaten them a number of times, when push comes to shove and the stakes are high, they are one tough team to beat. Not to mention the fact that I am still searching for my first hit off of Ueno… it’s coming though.

Justin’s World: Tell me about playing for Team Canada and the pride you felt the first time you stepped on the field in the red and white with a maple leaf on your jersey.
Victoria Hayward: The first time I had the privilege of wearing Canada across my chest, I was just 16 years old. I was in awe of the amazing players around me, eager to learn and grateful for the opportunity to compete at the highest level.  As a member of the national team, I have grown, both on and off of the field, more than I ever could have imagined.  Seven years later, through all of the ups and the downs, I am one of the most seasoned veterans, a team captain, and cherish (more than ever) every single chance I get to put on that uniform and represent my country.  The pride I felt that first day pales in comparison to the pride I feel every single day as a member of that team.  

Justin’s World: Give me your thoughts on the sport of softball's potential return to the Olympic Games. If it does make its return as an Olympic sport, what will that mean for the game as a whole, in your opinion?
Victoria Hayward: Softball is a sport that deserves to be in the Olympics, no question.  Fortunately, I think that there is a very good chance that it returns for 2020. Just a few years ago, it was clear that the softball world was dominated by a few key players: Japan, the US, Australia and Canada (woohoo!).  Although for the most part it still is, teams like Mexico and Puerto Rico are making huge progress and are proving that they can compete at the highest level.  Every year that softball remains out of the Olympics, the funding available decreases – so much that for several countries, players actually have to pay to play.  Bringing softball back to the Olympics will give countries the funding they need to keep supporting softball – enabling teams to continue playing and travelling all over the world… continuing to grow the game.

Justin’s World: Describe to me the feeling when you found out you were drafted to the NPF. Additionally, tell me about the decision to continue to concentrate solely on Team Canada and not play in the league directly out of school.
Victoria Hayward: Playing in the NPF had been a dream of mine since I learned about the existence of National Pro Fastpitch.  Although I had summer commitments to Team Canada, I knew that it was something I wanted to pursue in the future, whether it be that summer or five years in the future.  I remember watching the live stream of the Draft from my room and I started to lose hope as the number of draft picks dwindled down (there were only 20 in the 2014 Draft) and then, I heard my name! I was so grateful that the Rebellion would draft me even though they didn’t even know if I would be able to play! That summer I had all intention of playing for both the Rebellion and Team Canada – unfortunately, the ISF World Championship, in the Netherlands, was scheduled for August and because I would be missing the entire post-season, we were unable to come to an agreement for that summer. 

Justin’s World: Continuing the timeline, what factored into your decision to split 2015 between Team Canada and the NPF? What was it like in the NPF playing with many former foes and against so many former teammates?
Victoria Hayward: Unlike the NPF, which has a relatively consistent schedule stretching from the end of May to mid-August, the schedule of international competitions varies drastically from year to year.  This summer, it so happened that the commitment with Softball Canada was just over a month long, which left me almost half of the NPF season to play.  The Rebellion had expressed their willingness to work around my schedule and I jumped on the opportunity to experience both!  My few weeks in the NPF were awesome.  It was so fun getting to play alongside and learn from many of the girls that I competed against throughout my career at Washington, especially the girls I faced year in and year out in the Pac-12: Dallas Escobedo, Cheyenne Cordes and Alexa Peterson.  The level of competition in the league is no-joke but it was amazing the team chemistry and life long friendships that our team was able to create in such a short amount of time. 

Justin’s World: Talk to me about your recent injury; how went the surgery and what is your expected recovery time? How difficult is it to have your season end so suddenly on that note, and will it hamper your plans to play in 2016?
Victoria Hayward: On July 1st, which ironically is Canada Day, I tore my ACL and partially tore my Meniscus in a play at the plate. I was able to walk off of the field and jog a little up and down the sidelines but I just knew that something was wrong.  The next day, my Dad took me to get an MRI and just two weeks later I was home having surgery.  Saying goodbye to my team(s) and my summer of softball was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Throughout my career I had never missed so much as a game due to injury so the whole “injury” thing was entirely new to me.  I was confined to my bed, unable to walk, as I watched/read (thank you Twitter) my team take home Gold against Team USA at the Pan Am Games.  Being confined to my bed as my two squads went on without me was truly heartbreaking and I honestly would not have been able to get through it without the constant support of my teammates (from both teams), coaches, opposing team’s coaches, fans and everyone that reached out to me.

Fortunately, the surgeon said that my surgery could not have gone more perfectly and that I would be back in action, at 100% in 9 months – giving me just enough time to prepare for the 2016 season.

Justin’s World: What are your long-term plans as far as your playing career is concerned?
Victoria Hayward: In terms of my playing career long-term, I want to play as long as my body will let me! If/when softball returns to the Olympics in 2020, I plan on being there!  I joined the National Team the year after the 2008 Olympics and I don’t think that I could hang up my cleats without at least trying to make it.   

Justin’s World: Outside of Victoria Hayward, the player, Victoria Hayward, the coach has shown up, already spending time (briefly) with Seattle U as well as LSU, and now with your first full-time gig at UMass. Is coaching something you plan to do long-term; to term it one way, is that your career of choice?
Victoria Hayward: If you had asked me this question a year ago, I would have said that I was simply going with the flow and taking advantage of opportunities.  Now, after a year under my belt, it is much more than that for I have truly found my passion for coaching and sharing my knowledge of the game with others.  I don’t know what to expect as an assistant coach but I welcome the challenge and am so excited to be a part of the tradition that is UMass softball. 

Justin’s World: Let's end things with my favorite question! Say you were stranded on a deserted island for an undetermined period of time, but can take three things with you. No boats, no phones. People and animals do count, if you want them to. What would you take?

Victoria Hayward: I would bring sunscreen, my Kindle full of books and my brother Kristian… who is a wilderness man and could manage survival and escaping the island while I enjoyed a little beach vacation!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Lisa Modglin Joins Cal Poly Hall of Fame

Akron Racers great Lisa Modglin was inducted into the Cal Poly Mustangs Athletic Hall of Fame in a ceremony held last Friday night. Modglin, along with seven other inductees, were also honored on the field at the Mustangs football game Saturday.

Modglin, fourth from right. (Photo: Nicole Trimboli)
The full class of inductees included Jack Adam (swimmer); Tom Beyers (baseball); Lennis Cowell (wrestler/coach); Damone Johnson (football); Craig Johnston (football); Gina Oceguera (soccer); Sharon Day-Monroe (track & field/soccer); as well as Modglin. 

Read more here:
Modglin enjoyed a stellar career as a Mustang, twice earning Big West Player of the Year honors and being named an all-American first-teamer in her senior campaign.

A two-time all-conference and all-region selection, Modglin still holds the top spot in eight categories in the program's offensive career record books, including batting average; total bases; hits; runs; steals; doubles; triples; and slugging percentage. She holds seven single-season records, including batting average (.476) and home runs (16).

Following college, Modglin joined the NPF, playing for the New England Riptide and Akron Racers over her six-year career in the league. One of the biggest unheralded stars during that period, she also made arguably the biggest sacrifice to be able to play, annually taking three months away from her job as an accountant in California to suit up and hit the diamond each season.

Modglin retired from the NPF after the 2012 season, quietly bringing to a close an excellent, if not well-known, career.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Softball Takes Another Steps Toward Olympic Return

Thanks to a strong push from Tokyo-based organizers of the 2020 Olympic Games, the joint bid for softball & baseball's return to the Olympics is now on the short list for official consideration by the IOC for inclusion in the 2020 Games.

Even as 2016 remained a slim possibility last year, 2020 has always seemed the best opportunity if a return is possible. The Japanese are solidly behind the movement for a return and for the first time, as hosts, were allowed to make an official proposition for additions to the Olympic bill.

Six sports in total were proposed to be added for the Tokyo games, though five is the official number thanks to baseball & softball's joint bid. The other "sports" include karate; skateboard; sports climbing; and surfing.

Per the official news release, the proposal includes allotment for six teams with roster space for fifteen players. One unmentioned but important note is that this would likely require qualifying tournaments in 2018 and '19 to determine which countries will participate, adding a level of legitimate gain and contention to currently minimally-impactful tournaments.

The final decision on whether or not to add the suggested sports and events to the 2020 Games rests with the IOC; their decision will be made at the 129th IOC Session in Rio in August 2016. The 2016 Games will run from August 5 - August 21.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Bandits Throw Out 1st Pitch[es] for White Sox

The Chicago Bandits earned the Cowles Cup as 2015 National Pro Fastpitch champions. Since their victory, some of the Chicagoland-area members of the squad have made the rounds of various local sporting events, including a quartet of players and coach Michael Steuerwald being honored at a Northwestern football game.

Tuesday night, though, was the "big one" - all-stars Emily Allard; Tammy Williams; and Amber Patton threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Chicago White Sox game. Several other members of the squad were in the stands for the fun.

Wednesday morning, Allard was featured on the cover of the Chicago Sun Times.

See photos and video below, with thanks to various social media pages, the Chicago White Sox, and


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Kory Hayden Steps Into Justin's World

Mid-Major record-breakers may not get nearly as much press coverage or fanfare, but that's certainly not because their achievements are any less impressive. Kory Hayden's senior campaign was just that in 2015 - an impressive power show that saw her cement her name throughout both the conference & school record books.

When Hayden hit her 59th-career home run on April 11th, she became the Big South's all-time leading home run slugger. Hayden's eventual career mark of sixty-one would later be broken by fellow senior standout Megan Baltzell.

Hayden holds a spot in the conference's all-time top ten in both home runs and RBIs in the Big South record books, with a stellar 189 in the latter category.

Not just a slugger, and in a note that makes this reporter's OCD happy, Hayden got a base hit in exactly 1/3 of her official plate appearance during her career, giving herself a .333 batting average. Her stat line also includes a 0.660 slugging percentage and a perfect 3-3 in swiping bases.

Justin's World: How did you get started playing softball?
Kory Hayden: I got started playing softball when I was about 7.  I started playing baseball when I was 4 and my mom suggested I begin playing softball instead.  I was pretty reluctant at first, but I gave it a chance and fell in love with the game.  I bonded more with the girls than I did with the boys and have just loved the game ever since and everything that came along with it: the friendships, the connection with coaches, the incredible wins, and memories that will last a lifetime.

Justin's World: Why did you choose to attend Coastal Carolina and play in the Big South?
Kory Hayden: I chose to attend Coastal Carolina because, ultimately, they were the only school that offered me any type of scholarship. I actually denied the first offer they gave me in hopes of being swept up by a big time school.  Fortunately, that did not happen because then I never would have started my journey at Coastal. I emailed Coach Green, hoping they had any sort of scholarship left to give me.  Coach Green offered me the original scholarship from 6 months prior and the deal was sealed.

Justin's World: Tell me what you did and had to do to keep the even balance between the sheer power that comes with being an all-time great slugger and being a generally consistent hitter.
Kory Hayden: To keep the balance between being a power hitting and a consistent hitter, I knew I wasn't always going to get the best pitches thrown to me.  When they did throw to me in my hot zone, I had to take advantage of it and when they didn't, I just needed to put a good swing on the ball, put it in play and make things happen. Ultimately, it was all about patience after my freshman year.

Justin's World: What is your favorite moment or memory from your career?
Kory Hayden: Although many people would think my favorite memory would be breaking the Coastal home-run record, along with the Big South record, it's not.  My favorite memory of all-time is from my freshman year when we won the Big South Championship.  Being a part of the NCAA tournament is every little girl’s dream, including myself.  It was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had and will remember it for the rest of my life.  Records can be broken, but no one can ever take away the Big South Championship we won in 2012.

Justin's World: When you are in the midst of a record chase, how do you keep your mindset in check and concentrate on each at-bat individually?
Kory Hayden: Honestly, keeping my mental game stable once I realized the record was in reach was a real challenge. I constantly had to tell myself not to think about it and just let it happen. Once I got about 3 home-runs away from the record, that was nearly impossible.  It's something that I had to overcome, though, and just relax and let things take its course.  

Justin's World: Describe the scenario, moment, and what went through your mind when you hit the record-breaker, #59.
Kory Hayden: The only thing I could think about was that a moment like that happens once in a lifetime. What made it even more special was that the game happened to be aired on ESPN that day and all my family that can't make any of my games still got to see it happen. I knew Megan Baltzell would probably break that record within a few days or weeks, but being able to say I held that accomplishment for a week is something a lot of people cannot say. It was an incredible feeling.

Justin's World: After tying the record, was the pressure to break it greater, the same, or less so?
Kory Hayden: The pressure was about the same; the only difference this time was knowing I was capable of breaking records, knowing it was possible for me to achieve if I had the right mindset.  

Justin's World: Tell me about your future plans, including involved with the game of softball and otherwise.
Kory Hayden: Right now I'm an assistant coach at Eckerd College in St. Pete, FL.  I'm getting my foot in the door of the coaching world and hopefully paving the way to one day be a head coach at a D1 school. I am volunteering my time right now in hopes of getting a paying job in the near future.  You have to work your way up from the bottom and be willing to volunteer your time just because you love the game and want to help young girls become the all-stars they can be. On the side, I work at PetSmart in the morning from about 5am-10am so that my afternoons are opening for softball practice. I needed a paying job on the side to help pay the bills and PetSmart ended up being the perfect fit with my schedule.

Justin's World: Say you were stranded on a deserted island for an undetermined period of time, but could take three things with you. No boats, no phones. What would you take?
Kory Hayden: If I could take 3 things, one of them would definitely be a softball bat.  What I would use it for I'm not exactly sure, but I would figure it out and take a few dry swings while I figured out ways to use it *laughs* I would also bring a fishing pole so I could catch some fish for food.  Not only for survival purposes but for enjoyment; I love fishing and fish off the dock in my back yard all the time.  The last thing I would bring is a mattress. Who wants to sleep on the ground?  Not this girl!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

2020 Olympic Decision Expected on September 28th

The sport of softball's next hurdle attempt in the quest to get back into the Olympic Games will be passed or stymied on September 28th, the day Tokyo Olympic organizers will announce the sports they are proposing to add to the 2020 Games, to be hosted in their city.

Though the final and ultimate decision rests with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), who may choose not to follow any of the recommendations and leave the slate of sports exactly as it stands now, the Tokyo organizers' backing of softball would be a large hurdle in the years-long quest to again-reach what is widely considered the highest once-attainable level of the sport.

Tokyo organizers are choosing from the following "finalist" sports: Baseball and softball (joint bid); bowling; karate; roller sports; sport climbing; squash; surfing; and wushu.

According to a report, baseball and softball's joint bid is thought to be the favorite to rejoin the Games in Tokyo if any sports are added.

2020 is also the best chance due to the Japanese excellent performances in both sports in previous Olympic games prior to the sports' removal after 2008. This has been considered a major favorable factor in the push to return softball to the Olympics in Tokyo.

Baseball and softball were part of the Olympics from 1996-2008, a time period during which the United States took home a trio of gold medals as well as a silver in 2008.

Other sports that failed to make the finalist list include: Air sports; bowls; bridge; chess; dance sport; floorball; flying disc; football; korfball; netball; orienteering; polo; racquetball; sumo; tug of war; underwater sports; and waterski and wakeboard.