Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Amanda Scarborough Enters Justin's World

During last season’s collegiate softball playoffs, I was only able to watch a couple of the regional & super regional matchups live as they happened, but thanks to, I ended up catching some of the other games after the fact.

One of the announcers that I was really very impressed with was Amanda Scarborough, a former Texas A&M standout. Having never heard her call a game before, I was very impressed with her knowledge and insight. Besides that, you could just tell that she was really enjoying what she was doing, and that is always a positive thing.

Amanda moved to the studio for the remainder of the postseason, and I was once again very impressed with the way she handled herself and the information she provided – by far one of the best hires, however temporary, ESPN has made.

A while back, I sought Amanda out for an interview, and she was gracious enough to agree. She answered close to a dozen questions, and, as you might expect by now, provided excellent responses. You can follow Amanda on Twitter, Facebook, or her website by clicking on the links.

Q: You were not only a dominant pitcher during your career, but also a dangerous hitter. Several other stars have seen immense success as the same kind of dual threat (Finch, Ricketts, Traina). What are some advantages to being a force to be reckoned with not only in the pitching circle, but also at the plate?
A: I felt lucky that I got to hit and pitch throughout my career.  I like it because it allowed me to take my mind off of pitching at times throughout the game.  I can, at times, over think things, and since I had to think about pitching AND hitting, it allowed me to not dwell on mistakes so much as I would focus on my upcoming at bat or upcoming inning.  I also liked it a lot because I knew that if I gave up some runs on the mound when I was pitching, that I had the capability to come back at the plate and try to get some runs back with my bat.  Then thinking about it from a more analytical standpoint, because I was a pitcher, it helped with my at bats as a hitter as I could pick up spins, see different pitches, and know exactly which pitches I was seeing in my at bat.  At times,  this could allow me to be one step ahead of the pitch calling 

Q: What would you consider to be the proudest moment from your career?
A: The proudest moment of my career as a player was stepping onto the field under the lights at Oklahoma City and competing for a National Championship in 2008.  I did not get to play because I was injured, but I was so proud of our team, coaches and my senior classmates that we had helped lead our team to the most important game of our career.  Now as coach, my proudest moment happened today as my first lesson ever signed her National Level of Intent to take her skills to the next level.  She was a kid who came to every Texas A&M camp and so many A&M home games, and would come down when I was a freshman in college and she was 9 and watch me warm up.  She followed me throughout my career, then after my senior year I began to give her lessons.  Just today she signed her NLI and it really is a full circle moment for a 9 year old to go from a fan watching our games, to me being her pitching coach and now this time next year she will be on her own collegiate team.  

Q: How do you think the move to the SEC will benefit (or harm) the Aggies softball program in 2013?
A: The SEC has always been such a deep, tough conference even before the addition of Texas A&M AND Missouri.  Those two schools will make it even tougher.  There is no telling who will come out on top of that conference in 2013 as week after week all of the teams will be pushing each other in conference games and just battling.  There are no easy games.  Knowing that program and their head coach, Jo Evans, I know they will be ready to compete with the best of them.  With her at the helm, I strongly believe that Texas A&M has a chance to win any game they compete in.  They will need to be able to rely on their pitching to get them through SEC conference series as they will be facing some of the toughest offenses in the nation.

Q: I read on your website that your “true passion lies in teaching young girls” and that you hope to expand your coaching to a national level. How is that goal progressing
A: The past year-year and a half has been absolutely amazing and has led me in directions that I didn't even see coming.  Yes, I have had some clinics in states outside of Texas, but what I didn't see coming were the speaking engagements outside of Houston that I would be invited to, as well as endorsing pitching tools such as the Softball Power Drive.  The "coaching on a national level" has come more through speaking at coaches conventions, traveling all around with a select team I coach, TX Firecrackers Gold, making online training videos and speaking about collegiate softball games through Longhorn Network & ESPN.  You never know where life is going to take you, luckily I have been able to follow my heart and I know I am definitely headed in the right direction to make a difference in our sport.

Q: You were one of my favorite color commentators during the Super Regionals last season, and you did a great job in the studio during the WCWS. Will we be seeing you back on ESPN next season?
A: Thank you!  The Texas v Oregon Super Regional in Austin was such a good one, and I had so much fun commentating it.  I will be with ESPN again in the spring for the college season, and also hopefully working with the Longhorn Network again, as well as trying to get in with some other networks who broadcast collegiate games.  It's so much fun to call games, and it's my goal to do as many as I possibly can during the spring!

Q: How much homework do you do in preparation to broadcast a game or series of games?
A: It actually is a good bit of homework!  We are sent all kind of media guides and notes from the SID for the schools we are covering and also get a chance to interview the players or coaches.  Interviews will either happen on a conference call or when we actually get to the site of the game.  I really try to do my homework because I want to feel comfortable talking about the team and the players; I remember as a player myself when we had TV games how cool it was for the announcers to know details about me or our team when I would go back and watch it.  I want to give the players and more importantly, the schools we are covering, that same experience and their time to shine.  

Q: I’m going to tap into the analyst in you for just a second. [:)] Who is a player that most fans might not know of, but that we should keep our eye on next season?
A: Someone who I think is very underrated as a player is Jessica Moore, who is a senior pitcher at Oregon.  In the Super Regional I was very impressed with how she carried herself and her team to the WCWS.  She was so mentally and physically strong, and she doesn't get as much credit as I think that she deserves.  Word on the street is that she is beginning to swing the bat pretty well for her senior season…so she may be making some noise not only in the circle, but at the plate as well.  Last year she hit a little, but only because of injuries, and this year we just may get to see her permanently make her way into the lineup.  I love the way she plays and leaves everything all out on the field.  

Q: OK, moving on to a couple of fun questions to close it out. Say you were Aladdin and the genie agreed to grant you three wishes. What would you ask for?
A: 1) To be able to close my eyes and be at a location whether it be the grocery store or a different state or country.  I travel a TON, and I love it, but it would be amazing to just be able to close my eyes and be there in no time.  2) I would also wish for more than 7 days in a week or days that were longer than 24 hours.  There are so many things I want to do, whether it be travel more for vacation, give more lessons, do more clinics, the list could go on forever.  And I would love to have more time during the day or more days during the week to get things done!   3) Lastly, my wish would be to have an awesome singing voice.  I LOVE to sing and I think it would be so fun to do it for a career (not that my career isn't great, because it is), but if you are close to me, you know that I love to sing, just wish I had the voice to back it up!

Q: I saw on your website that you love to travel. What’s your favorite international destination?
A: I really do love to travel!  In December, I am going to Australia, which will be the second time I've been there and that's such a special place to get to go to.  Hmmm….if I'm looking for a beach with sun, I like to go to Roatan, Honduras.  Roatan is an island off the coast of Honduras not many people know about; it's absolutely beautiful and just a 2 hour plane trip from my home in Houston.  If I’m looking for somewhere that is not beach-related I would say Paris. There are a lot more places I would like to try to get to that I haven't had a chance to venture to yet!  

Q: And, finally, if you were offered a guest starring role on any television show currently on TV, which would you like to appear on?
A: I'd have to say Modern Family - that to me is the funniest show on TV!  However, if I could use my Aladdin wish, and I could sing, I would want to be on X Factor.  :)

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