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American Press

Monday, July 28, 2014
Southwest Louisiana ,
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Tossin' pro softball an option

Last Modified: Thursday, June 26, 2014 11:31 AM

By Jim Gazzolo / American Press

Last weekend fans once again flocked to McMurry Park in Sulphur for a good cause.

They came out in droves to see the Wounded Warriors, a group of softball-playing amputee veterans.

Against them was a bunch of players led by Jennie Finch-Daigle, the softball star who has made her home in Southwest Louisiana.

For the second time in three summers the two groups got together and put on a winning show that raised a bunch of money for injured vets throughout the country.

While most of the outpouring was for the veterans themselves, there is no question the name Jennie Finch goes perfectly with softball and the Lake Area.

When she came here with the Olympic team a few years back, it was a huge hit.

Then there was her goodbye party at McMurry Park disguised as the Pro Fast Pitch championships.

The league thought so much of the area and her that it played its tournament, and her final professional games, in Sulphur despite not a team closer than Florida.

Again it was a big hit.

The next year the numbers were down as Finch-Daigle was done playing, though her presence was still felt as she made sure to be a part of the weekend.

While noticing all this, and seeing how the young kids, especially girls, flock to her, you wonder if maybe in the future Finch-Daigle might be involved even more in softball when it comes to the Lake Area.

Maybe she would be fit nicely as the owner of a franchise that plays at McMurry Park.

The pro fast pitch league has talked about adding teams, though travel would be tough considering the clubs are spread out.

It does, however, make sense.

The league has had success in the area before and everything Finch-Daigle seems to touch turns to gold.

A perfect match perhaps?

“I would be interested in maybe being a part of something like that if the right opportunity came along,” said Finch-Daigle.

She has already served as the face of softball both on the college and international level, so why not here as well?

It might be a long shot, but last weekend showed this area is fond of both her and softball.

Also, we don’t have much in the way of sports entertainment in the summer.

The Swashbucklers, our indoor pro football team, have been gone for more than a year now and when they folded it did leave a void for the local sports fans.

A previous owner of that franchise, Thom Hager, said a pro softball team could work if marketed right, though his days of owning teams are probably over.

“I would consider being a part of something like that, but I’m not going to be the front guy,” he said. “There does seem to be some interest here in softball.”

It could be the Wounded Warriors and the Finch-Daigle led all-star team are the perfect pair.

It could also be that not enough people will be willing to travel over the bridges to get to those games.

However, softball seems to work in this area and with the success of McNeese’s programs over the past few years might still be on the rise.

Having a minor league baseball team, or a college summer club, would also be nice, but that seems just as far away.

This might just be wishful thinking from a sports junkie, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good idea.

Finch-Daigle has always been a success, as has softball in Sulphur.

So maybe this would work.

At least it is something to think about.

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Jim Gazzolo is managing sports editor. Email him at jgazzolo@americanpress.com

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