Our game is evolving and it’s happening quickly. Over the years, softball has continued to progress with each passing season. While it has always been competitive, intense, and fast-paced; we are now beginning to get a glimpse into the heartfelt passion in the eyes of the women who play this awesome game. Softball games are being televised more frequently and technology is covering the sport with regularity. Fans are now able to see more of this competitive game on a national level.
I’m sure softball fans across the country are aware of our rivalry match-ups with teams such as Michigan and Florida, both top-notch programs that we are fortunate enough to face. I also believe that these insights allow fans to feel the fire, passion, and grit of how the game is played. This invites fans to become more emotionally invested in the sport and fall in love with the aspects of the game that I find so intriguing.
I love softball because in its truest nature, it is a game of failure. I love it because the best team does not always win, and that is HARD to accept. I love it because the game reveals and builds character. I love it because it is something to be passionate about and to grow by. I love it because of how much it has taught me about being a fierce, competitive, confident woman.
I’ll go ahead and talk a little about our game earlier in the season against Michigan. The atmosphere at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic was unlike most; two programs meeting in neutral territory. The stands were filled with fans from both teams. Intermixed amongst the roars of “GO BLUE!” or “GO NOLES!” were the neutral fans, simply enjoying the game of softball. We have a history with Michigan, as we have seen them in the past, in Super Regional match-ups, as well as at the Women’s College World Series. We can always count on getting their best game. Michigan is a great team. It is no secret that playing teams of their caliber, regardless of the outcome, will always make us better. Win, lose, or in our case, draw, there are numerous lessons to be learned. Every single pitch was a dog fight. The desire to come out on top evoked a fire amongst everyone involved. There were diving plays, close plays at the plate, emotion filled at-bats, game changing moments… revealing our passion-filled hearts to onlookers near and far. The game of softball is growing both in popularity and the competitive nature in which it is played.
I’ll move on now to our UF game… which took place last week. Again a rivalry game, the FSU-UF match up, is one of those atmospheres that can’t be replicated. Simply put, this nerve-wracking game is battled ONE pitch at a time. We lost the adrenaline filled competition 1-0 in the bottom of the seventh on a walk-off single. Everyone in attendance, and those looking on at home, clearly witnessed that both teams were fighting for that one pitch that could change the game. Emotions run high as athletes’ abilities and character are tested in pressure-filled moments. These are the games that you will remember most in your career. Every game is uniquely it’s own, however some will always be your first memory when reminiscing on your playing career. These games exemplify the true passion and grit of female athletes are not only fun to watch, but they’re even more fun to compete in. Our game is changing, and little by little it is continually moving forward. You get to witness women becoming comfortable and confident in their abilities right before your eyes. When a player disagrees with a call, you might see them casually having a conversation about it with the umpires. If you have some kind of issue or “beef” (if you will) with a player, you say it, you confront the situation, and you just flat out play the game as if no one is watching; the way the game is supposed to be played.
I love these emotion-filled moments when girls get fired up during competition, because ultimately, it just shows their spirit and love for the game. I think, in the past, these outspoken girls may have been viewed as having a bad attitude, but I realize now that it was never about “attitude” at all. It was always about their passion and love for the game.
Playing this game has taught me a lot about myself. I have learned how to fail, how to succeed, how to be a teammate, and how to compete for something I want. The greatest gift the game has shown me is that it’s okay to be uncontrollably passionate about the goals you want to achieve. You have to put it all out there to reach them in the end. The game will continue to have amazing rivalries, flat-out passion shown by the players, and the grit that goes along with such tough competition.
I hope you’re ready for it.