JENNIE FINCH

The view from the booth: Jennie Finch still loves game, UA

2012-06-05T00:00:00Z The view from the booth: Jennie Finch still loves game, UAPatrick Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
June 05, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Since leaving the Arizona Wildcats 10 years ago, Jennie Finch has played in two Olympics, given birth to two boys and, after remaining the face of softball, retired to ESPN's broadcast booth.

The Star caught up with Finch, who lives in Louisiana with husband, Casey, and sons, Ace and Diesel, last week, while she was at the Women's College World Series:

How different in the WCWS from when you played?

A: Oh my gosh. Crazy. Wild. To see the stands on TV. The outfield bleachers they put in. They broke the (attendance) record on a Thursday. It's so incredible to see. That's the goal on every campus - to get to Oklahoma City.

Why do you think it's grown in the last 10 years or so, since you graduated?

A: It's intense. You can see the passion on the players' faces. It's action-packed. It's seven innings. It's two hours.

There's tons of stuff going on. It combines the best of everything. You can see the talent level has continued to rise. It sucks you in.

You mention two hours - it used to be a lot shorter, but now it seems there's so much offense in the game. Do you like that?

A: Being a pitcher, I love the strategy behind the low-scoring game, but everyone loves the long ball.

It's the combination of the bat (changes) to moving the mound back - there are so many different factors. And athletes training, intensely, at a younger age.

What brought you back to broadcasting?

A: It's been a while since I've been in the booth. It's good to be back. In 2003, I tried it. I had the opportunity this year to get back in there. It's great - I'm more removed. Back then, I was playing with these girls and then I was commentating.

Now, it's incredible to be out at college practices. The opportunity is something so great. It's a challenge for me. It's something different. It's been a fun challenge. It's a lot of work.

Is it strange to be in Oklahoma City without the UA being there?

A: It is weird. I did the ASU (super regional) series. It's hard for a Wildcat to see how the state of Arizona is kinda leaning toward ASU. It wasn't that way when I played.

We have to work to get it back, but that's what makes the college atmosphere so good - that rivalry. It's great to be around such incredible softball.

When you step on campus, every Wildcat's goal is not to get to the College World Series - it's to win it. Unfortunately, it's been a tough road to get to the World Series.

We're seeing lots of programs that are evolving. It's exciting to see the parity that's in the game. It's up for grabs. You never know what's going to happen.

From afar, what do you see happening with the Wildcats?

A: I don't know - it's a combination of things. I'm a fan now, so I want what's best for Arizona. I want to see Coach (Mike Candrea) have success and the program succeed.

It's so much better when you're able to watch and support your team. The postseason is that much sweeter.

It takes pitching, defense and timely hitting - unfortunately we've fallen short.

Maybe they'll use this to light a fire within them and work hard this summer.

The postseason is won in the summer - the weight room, those early morning workouts, in the early fall, too.

When Candrea was sick earlier this year, did you connect with him?

A: I was texting a couple teammates and him. I was checking up with him. The weekend against ASU didn't help the situation. He wanted to get back to Tucson as soon as possible, and he did right away.

Coach is way more than just a coach. He's a father figure to me. I'm very close to him and am staying in touch with him as much as I can.

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