Best Of Tucson®

Best Local Athlete

Jennie Finch

READERS' PICK: When this stunning athlete takes the mound and faces down an opposing batter, it's like a Marvin Gaye triple play. Strike one! How sweet it is. Strike two! What's goin' on? Strike three! Mercy, mercy me. With the tidal wave of positive media attention, record-setting individual performances, national championships, personal accolades, and the incredible ease and dignity with which she handles being a role model to millions, this two-time national Softball Player of the Year may be the most important athlete ever to wear a Wildcat uniform. Despite a record 60-game personal winning streak and a national title in 2001, perhaps what most of us will remember her for is the poignant scene in the dugout as she stood, refusing to cry, after being removed from the championship game. She had pitched the Cats into the title game and then into the seventh inning of a scoreless tie before the combination of scheduling, weather delays, pressure-packed games, incredible physical demands and a powerful Cal lineup stopped her just short of a second national crown. Otis Redding sang, "Ooh, she may be weary; young girls, they do get weary." All we know is that people all over the country watched the scene and thought, "Do you ever know that you're my hero?"

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