Thursday, October 30, 2014

All Hallows Eve

In honor of the festivities that accompany the 31st of this 10th month of the year (Halloween, for those of you who are really tired or really slow), we present our pick for Costume of the Year and a throwback to Halloween 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada, where the UNLV softball squad put on quite a performance.

That's LSU's Dylan Supak & Kailey McCasland
(photo cred: Supak on Instagram)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Where Are They Now: Jamie Hull

Who is she? Jamie Hull, a former star first baseman for the Wichita State Shockers.

What is she known for? For four years, Jamie was a fixture at first base for the Shockers. In her first season with the squad, Jamie helped her team get the better of then-perennial-powerhouse Texas, going 2-2 with a three-run home run, two walks and four RBI in the game. Jamie clubbed twenty-four home runs over the course of her career, and earned numerous academic and athletic honors.

Here’s an interesting fact… While the vast majority of Jamie’s family is from Illinois, only she and a nephew born earlier this year hail from the land of ten-gallon hats and cowboy boots, good ‘ole Texas. She was born in Irving, Texas and attended Nimitz High School there.

What’s she doing now? Following a year as an assistant coach on the WSU staff and two years working for news station KWCH and the website, Jamie again began working for her alma mater in April of this year. This time in the admissions office, she works as a high school admissions representative and serves the Wichita private schools and southeast area of the state of Kansas. Jamie plays in the annual WSU alumni game and calls herself “an avid fan of the program”.

Contact information: You can find Jamie on both Facebook and Twitter @WSU_JamieHull

Monday, October 27, 2014

News and Tidbits - 10/27

  • The 2009 Washington Huskies championship-winning team was inducted into their school’s Hall of Fame on Thursday night. The Huskies’ website had a great Where Are They Now feature of their own, catching up with every member of the squad. Check that feature out here.
  • Ex-Louisiana-Lafayette pitcher Jill Robertson will be inducted into that school's athletics hall of fame in a ceremony on Halloween. Robertson was a three-time all-conference selection during her career that stretched from 2001-2005.
  • Former Florida softballer Ensley Gammel married Cody Dent, the son of former Major Leagues Bucky Dent and brother of Hofstra assistant coach Caitlin Dent, last weekend.
  • Another former Florida softballer, Mary Ratliff (’08), also got married.
  • The list of invites to the Team USA Junior National Team was announced. See the full list of invitees (all 19U) here.
  • The Chicago Bandits’ Emily Allard, along with her former Northwestern teammate Kristin Scharkey Jensen, has announced a new venture geared towards slappers. They call it “Be the Momentum” and have a website set up, linked here. You can also find them on all of the major social networks – Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Former North Texas stars Lesley Hirsch & Brooke Foster were part of an all-star squad that took on the Ragin Cajuns in a doubleheader exhibition last weekend. Foster posted this photo of herself and her once-again teammate in NPF uniforms for the game.

Friday, October 24, 2014

6 Degrees of Separation: Gary Busey-Kelsi Dunne

Today, we feature the next installment in our popular “Six Degrees of Separation” series by connecting actor Gary Busey to former Alabama All-American pitcher Kelsi Dunne.

Gary Busey starred in “Rookie of the Year”, a movie that featured a cameo appearance by Barry Bonds.

Barry Bonds & Matt Cain were teammates on the San Francisco Giants from 2005-2007.

Matt Cain’s present-day battery mate on the Giants is Buster Posey.

Buster Posey’s sister is Samantha Posey.

Samantha Posey played for Valdosta State who were conference foes against Les Stuedeman’s Alabama-Huntsville (UAH) squad.

Les Stuedeman is sister to Mississippi State head coach Vann Stuedeman.

Vann Stuedeman, while at Alabama, was pitching coach to Kelsi Dunne.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Where Are They Now: Ali Lowe

Who is she? Ali Lowe, a former standout shortstop and team captain for the Villanova Wildcats.

What is she known for? A four-year starter in the hole at short for Maria DiBernardi’s team, Ali led her squad in hits in her junior season, a year when she was also named a winner of the NCAS/Scholar Baller National Academic Momentum Award. She was elected a team captain in her senior year of 2014.

Here’s an interesting tidbit… This was a pretty interesting one when I asked Ali for an interesting fact about herself. Originally a native of South Florida (West Palm Beach, to be exact), Ali says she “grew up at the beach”. After moving to Pennsylvania for school and softball, Ali now says “I came to find myself calling this place home. One might think the beach would be my favorite place, but if you give me a snowboard and a mountain covered in snow, I will take that over the warm sand any day!”

What’s she doing now? Ali is currently working as the softball manager at Longstreth Sporting Goods outside Philadelphia. The company specializes in “defining the women’s game in field hockey, lacrosse, and softball”. As the softball manager, Ali is in charge of anything and everything softball at the company, including goods and equipment. Her job includes both working retail, working with vendor representatives, training other employees on new products, and conducting what she calls “demo days” at colleges and other institutes. Though she’s now involved with the game from the “other side of the fence”, Ali says she couldn’t think of a better way to stay connected.

Contact information: You can follow Longstreth Softball on Twitter @LongstrethSB and Ali’s personal account @ALowe09.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Team USA Tryouts Roster Announced

As announced last week, the preliminary list of invitees to Team USA selection camp has been announced. Thirty-two players have been invited.

The selection camp will be held in Irvine, California in January of next year. A roster of seventeen will be formed from the players in camp, and will include the players that put on the red, white, and blue for competition this summer.

Notable newcomers to the tryout list include Annie Aldrete; Ally Carda; Alex Hugo; Sierra Romero; Chelsea Wilkinson; Janie Takeda; and others. Aldrete and Romero were both late additions to the tryout list for this year's team, but both bowed out for various reasons. All three finalists for 2014 Collegiate Player of the Year will be in camp, in Romero, Carda, and the award's eventual winner Lacey Waldrop.

A notable returnee to the tryouts is Aimee Creger. After serving as one of the top pitchers for the national team in 2013, Creger was surprisingly left over this year's roster. A back injury was reportedly to thank for her absence, but it has apparently healed to the point that she'll be able to once-again contend for a spot in the new year.

Lauren Chamberlain also returns. After injuries limited her 2014 collegiate campaign, her summer ended at tryouts. She should be back to mostly-full health and could easily reclaim her spot on the squad. She stands eighteen home runs away from tying Stacey Nuveman's all-time collegiate record, and her performance in USA camp could give a good sign as to whether or not she will challenge for the record during the regular season.

Former Team USA assistant coach Mike White places four of his current & former players on the squad. Alumni and national team vet Jessica Moore is joined by fellow vet Cheridan Hawkins and newcomers Takeda and Janelle Lindvall. Tennessee, Cal, and Arizona all have three current & former players representing their schools on the squad.

Four members of the class of 2012 make up the elder statesmen on the squad- Michelle Moultrie; Sam Fischer; Amanda Chidester; and Valerie Arioto. Aldrete is the youngest, a sophomore.

The team is coached by Ken Eriksen. His assistants are Laura Berg (HC, Oregon State); Lisa Dodd (HC, UNLV); and Howard Dobson (AC, LSU).

The full roster for tryouts includes (* denotes a returnee from the 2014 team):
  1. Annie Aldrete, Tennessee (SO, C)
  2. *Valerie Arioto, Cal (’12, IF/P)
  3. Ally Carda, UCLA (SR, P/IF)
  4. Lauren Chamberlain, Oklahoma (SR, 1B)
  5. *Raven Chavanne, Tennessee (’13, IF)
  6. *Amanda Chidester, Michigan (’12, C/IF)
  7. Cheyenne Cordes, Cal (SR, IF)
  8. Aimee Creger, Tulsa (’14, P)
  9. *Sam Fischer, Loyola Marymount (’12, IF)
  10. *Kellie Fox, Arizona (SR, IF)
  11. Amber Freeman, Arizona State (SR, C)
  12. *Lauren Gibson, Tennessee (’13, IF)
  13. Chelsea Goodacre, Arizona (SR, C)
  14. Cheridan Hawkins, Oregon (JR, P)
  15. *Jolene Henderson, Cal (’13, P)
  16. *Taylor Hoagland, Texas (’13, IF)
  17. Nicole Hudson, Missouri (’13, IF/OF)
  18. Alex Hugo, Georgia (JR, IF)
  19. Janelle Lindvall, Oregon (JR, C)
  20. *Destinee Martinez, Oklahoma (’14, OF)
  21. *Haylie McCleney, Alabama (JR, OF)
  22. *Jessica Moore, Oregon (’13, P)
  23. *Michelle Moultrie, Florida (’12, OF)
  24. *Sara Nevins, South Florida (’14, P)
  25. *Jess Plaza, Stanford (JR, C)
  26. Sierra Romero, Michigan (JR, IF)
  27. *Kelsey Stewart, Florida (JR, IF)
  28. Janie Takeda, Oregon (SR, OF)
  29. *Jackie Traina, Alabama (’14, P)
  30. Lacey Waldrop, Florida State (SR, P)
  31. Chelsea Wilkinson, Georgia (JR, P)
  32. *Hallie Wilson, Arizona (SR, UT)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Kourtny Thomas Steps Into Justin's World

Kourtny Thomas made her collegiate softball debut as a part of the #1-ranked signing class in 2011. Joining Ralph & Karen Weekly's Lady Vols alongside the likes of Melissa Davin, Tory Lewis, Madison Shipman, Ellen Renfroe, Ashley Holmes, and Chelsea O'Connor, Thomas' tenure on Rocky Top was short-lived.

Photo cred: Southern Conference via Facebook
Spending just a single season in orange and white, and appearing in just eight games during that year, Thomas fell behind Shipman on the depth chart and rarely saw action. A perfect fielding record in a couple-dozen opportunities were the sole bright spot of her freshman campaign.

Following a transfer to Georgia Southern, Thomas began to thrive immediately. Clubbing seven home runs, good enough for second-best on the squad, in her first year in Statesboro, Thomas continued on a hot streak as her career continued, adding twenty-six roundtrippers over her final two seasons and driving in sixty-nine runs over the same period.

A two-time first-team all-conference selection, Thomas finished her career just two home runs shy of the Eagles' school record. She also added an all-conference-tournament award to her trophy case in 2013.

Kourtny isn't on Twitter, but you can find her on Facebook here.

How did you get your start playing softball? How old were you when you began playing?
I started playing baseball when I was younger, and when I was about 9 my father made me switch to softball. At first I hated it, in all honesty, but once I made it to the end of the season, I was in love with the game.

Did you play any other sports growing up, or was softball your main focus?

 I played every sport. I played baseball, softball, tennis, soccer, basketball, swimming and even football. When I was a sophomore in high school, I started focusing on one sport, but I still continued to play basketball.

When it came time to pick a school to continue your career, you originally chose Tennessee. Why did you want to become a Lady Vol?
I wanted to become a Lady Vol because when I was about 11 years old, I watched Ralph and Karen coaching on television and I thought it would be awesome to play in Tennessee orange. My father told me I could do anything I put my mind to, so I wanted to make my dream come into a reality.

After being part of an uber-talented freshman class, you transferred to Georgia Southern. What factored in to you making that move?
I wasn't happy; I hated that we played softball because we had to, not because we loved to. It wasn't fun anymore and as far as I am concerned, it should always be about having fun. It's not like you can truly play professionally so you can't compare college baseball to college softball. In baseball, you play because you are working on getting drafted. In softball, you play your four years and maybe play softball for one of the NPF teams in the short summer or go play overseas. My heart was in softball to have fun, not to end up hating the game I grew up loving. The girls were great, especially the class I came in with, but I think out of seven only three stayed [[Editor’s Note: Four members of Kourtny’s class actually stayed at Tennessee]]. I applaud them; it's a tough life to live. The school just wasn't for me, but that doesn't mean it's not for other girls. The team and coaching staff is amazing.

Is there any one thing, whether it be a tournament, a game, playing with a certain player, that you wish you could have had the opportunity to experience?
Not really. I do wish I could play with Michael Jordan, Bo Jackson, or Chipper Jones but obviously that's not going to happen.

If you had to pick one moment or one play from your career as your favorite , what memory would it be?
The walk-off home run to win the SoCon championship [in 2013]. That was pretty amazing.

If you can, describe what it was like for you when the final out was recorded in your last game and it hit you that your career was done. What was that moment like?
I remember being on deck with two outs. It was tough, not because I was going to miss it but because of my parents. They were more in love with it than I was at times. They enjoyed traveling and watching me play in 10 degree weather or even 100 degree weather. Rain or shine, I could always count on them being there. It was a special bond we had and it's not like it's the only thing that kept us together, but it was really special. So when I looked up in the stands and saw my father trying to hold back tears, it was tough. I won't forget that day in the pouring rain.

Now that your career is done, what are your plans, both as far as your career and remaining involved in the game of softball? Is coaching at some level something you would like to do?
I wouldn't mind coaching, but it's not my dream. I am finishing up my sport management degree and I currently work for a marketing company so my future is starting to come together, I hope.

If you could sit down and have dinner with any three people from history, who would they be and why?
1. Charles Darwin, because I do not think he was even close to done with all his theories and findings. I am sure he could still teach us a lot.
2. Amerigo Vespucci, basically because I want to know how it felt to discover a new land that is now our wonderful country. He probably didn't even know how important that discovery was.
3. Lastly, probably Einstein. I would just want to tell him and show him all of the inventions and futuristic things we have. Even his mind would be blown!

Let’s say you were stranded on a deserted island, but could take three things with you. No boats, no phones. What would you take?
I would take my dog Ellie because I love her. A fishing pole because I love fishing and probably a camera so someone will find my recordings one day.