On February 21st, the USSSA Pride and the Cal State Northridge softball programs joined forces, playing in a community event exhibition game at Matador Diamond in Northridge, California. For the Lady Matadors, playing against the world-class athletes on the Pride was an experience that they won’t soon forget.
“Even a day after the game, I still can’t come up with words,” said Jaci Carlsen, the senior second-baseman and All-Big West Team member for the last two years. “It was a really fun experience. We really look up to them because of where they are and the things that they’re doing.”
After the game, Cal State Northridge’s head softball coach Tairia Flowers said that the rest of her players were just as excited are Carlsen.
“They loved it,” said Flowers. “I think they were in awe of the Pride. They were all so strong, so fast, so consistent. They were really playing against their idols.”
Beyond any hero worship, the softball players of Cal State Northridge learned valuable lessons by playing against the Pride.
“I think that the biggest thing that helped me was just facing them, because they’re more aggressive than batters my own age,” said Mia Pagano, a junior pitcher for the Matadors who pitched in the first two innings of Tuesday’s game. Pagano added, “I actually got out an Olympian, so that was a big confidence booster for me.”
Coach Flowers was proud of the way that her team represented themselves in the match-up.
“I think that (our team) learned that we’re better than we think we are. Even though the score might not have reflected it, I think the game raised our team’s confidence. They could say to themselves, ‘hey, these are the best of the best. We’re playing the top players.’ I think it’s a great memory.”
For Carlsen, playing the Pride was more than just a great memory; the game inspired her to think about her own future in softball.
“I took a lot of things from the experience,” said Carlsen. “Just talking to them after the game shows me that there is softball after college and you just need to keep working hard even after you graduate. Just keep working and have fun. Work hard even if things aren’t going the way that you wanted.”
The Pride will kick off their regular season in 2012 with an away game on June 7th against the Chicago Bandits.
By Caitlin Schwartz
About USSSA Florida Pride:
The USSSA Florida Pride is a professional franchise in the National Pro Fastpitch League that is owned and operated by USSSA. The amateur organization of USSSA has multi-sport coverage and encompasses teams and players from the United States and abroad.
National Pro Fastpitch is headquartered in Nashville, TN. The league, created to give elite female fastpitch players the opportunity to pursue a professional career in their chosen sport, has operated since 1997 under the names of Women’s Pro Fastpitch (WPF) and Women’s Pro Softball League (WPSL). NPF is the Official Development Partner of Major League Baseball in the category of women’s fastpitch softball since 2002.
The United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA), headquartered in Osceola County, Florida, USSSA is the World’s Largest Multi-sport Athletic Organization. Founded in 1968, USSSA has grown to over 3.7 million participants, competing in 13 nationally sanctioned sports including Baseball, Fastpitch, Slow Pitch, Karate, Basketball, Soccer and more! For more information on USSSA and to register your team visit USSSA.com. Also be sure to visit USSSAToday.com for the latest USSSA News!