Ashland University's softball team had a special breakfast guest on hand Friday (Jan. 30) morning – Team USA pitcher Jackie Traina.
Traina, a 2014 graduate of the University of Alabama, earned a spot on the national team after being among 32 initial invitees to the 2015 USA Softball Women's National Team Selection Camp this month in California. She earned one of the roster spots on the 2015 USA Softball Women's National Team that will compete at the World Cup of Softball X in July, and one of the spots on the team that will compete at the 2015 Pan American Games from July 15-26 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Traina has spent the last three summers with the USA Softball Women's National Team. She also will pitch professionally in Japan before and after her time with Team USA in 2015.
"It's definitely a whirlwind experience," Traina said, "not even a year out of college. And I get to play the sport that I love."
Ashland will begin its season on Feb. 21-22 with four games at Southern Indiana. Having to practice inside for weeks, and not knowing when the first outdoor practice will be, being able to hear a story like Traina's was that much more special.
"It's huge. We're three weeks out from our season," said Ashland assistant coach Shannon Schaub. "We can see that they are getting fatigued. This could come at a better time for us. She (Traina) has taken this game further than anyone in this room ever will.
"Everybody heard it, so everybody can be on the same page."
Said AU senior pitcher Amber McDermott, "It's absolutely awesome. It's good to see the same thoughts that go in our head go in hers. It meant a lot. It's really cool to see they want to give back, and the passion they have for the game."
And as much as the Eagles enjoyed meeting Traina, the feeling was mutual.
"Just being able to give back to the sport that's given so much to me is gratifying," she said. "It's the least I can do. I just want to add to it as much as I can."
Traina, who will return to Ohio with Team USA for an exhibition on July 14 in Findlay, finished her Alabama career with 106 wins, making her just the third player in school history and ninth in Southeastern Conference history with more 100 career wins. She also was named a Top 10 Finalist for the USA Softball Player of the Year award. Traina was named a First-Team All-American in 2014, making her the fifth four-time All-American in school history, and the only one to earn three First-Team honors. She earned her second career SEC Pitcher of the Year award in 2014, suffering just one loss in conference play en route to the team's fifth SEC Championship.
She also ranks third in career strikeout average (7.91), third in saves (10), third in games started (130), third in innings pitched (863 2/3), sixth in career opposing batting average (.199) and sixth in earned run average (2.03).