Likely the most well-known softball player ever, Finch made the announcement Tuesday morning at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium. The 29-year old, who is in town for the World Cup of Softball, will end her playing career with Team USA when the event ends on Monday. She will finish her professional career in late August after she closes the season with the Chicago Bandits.
“It really hasn’t set in,” said Finch of leaving the game. “It’s been something my husband and I and my family have talked about, but it wasn’t planned. I just decided Friday.
“And doing it in Oklahoma City seems right because this is like home. I’ve been playing here since I was in the 18-and-under national championships.”
Finch also was a regular in OKC during her playing career at Arizona (1999-2002) when she helped the Wildcats reach the Women’s College World Series all four seasons and led the team to the national championship in 2001.
In a 10-year playing career with Team USA, Finch has competed in two Olympiads (2004, 2008), winning a gold medal in 2004. She’s been part of teams that have won three world championships, three World Cups and two Pan-American Games.
Upon learning of Finch’s plans to hang up her spikes, the Amateur Softball Association and USA Softball wanted to get the word out and let the fans know in advance of the World Cup so as to provide a fitting farewell for the star of the sport.
“I was talking with some people about it and they said to go ahead and announce it so I could be sent off in the right way,” Finch laughed. “I just said, ‘I don’t need any of that.’”
Finch earned glory first for her work in the circle. But she also has been an offensive force at the plate and more recently become an everyday player by playing first base. However, the 6-1 blonde was the first softball player to gain iconic status away from the field, making appearances on television shows such as Late Night with David Letterman, Celebrity Apprentice. She’s also been featured in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition and numerous print and commercial ads.
Finch said the main factors in her decision to retire were her son Ace, born in 2006, and husband Casey Daigle.
“I’d like to have more kids and extend our family,” she said. “And I feel like I’ll have the time to be able to do more to continue to grow this sport, through camps and other ways.”
Taking softball to greater heights is something she’s already achieved.
“Jennie has meant so much to the sport and the growth of it,” said ASA executive director Ron Radigonda. “She has brought it to a whole new level of recognition as a worldwide sport. She has been instrumental in growing the sport on the field as a pitcher, player and hitter, but also as a person.”