Video: Jennie Finch, model pitcher

By Tom Brokaw Correspondent
NBC News
updated 8/29/2004 11:35:18 AM ET 2004-08-29T15:35:18

It was a Finch family tradition — and Jennie wanted in, wanted their attention. Her big brothers played ball, so at five, she joined her first team as well.

Eighteen years later, she's still playing. Only now, she has everyone's attention.

Jennie Finch burst onto the national radar screen at the University of Arizona --  with a record 60 consecutive wins.

"It's almost been surreal," she says.

Tom Brokaw: "Where did all of this come from, do you think?"

Jennie Finch: "It starts with a God-given talent and then the sacrifices that my parents made for me growing up."

Early on, Doug and Beverly Finch knew their daughter was different.

"She was 10 years old and she was crying on the mound and I said, 'Jennie, what's wrong?' And she goes, 'Did you hear what that coach called me?' And I said, 'No.' And she said, 'A pitching machine!'" remembers Doug.

And I said, "Jennie, that's a compliment!"

Jennie has five pitches, but it's her riseball that gets all the attention, even from professional baseball players, who watched her pitch while she co-hosted the television highlights show "This Week in Baseball."

"Oh my God! That's like Randy Johnson out there," said New York Yankees All-Star Alex Rodriguez.

Her long stride makes major leaguers look a lot like little leaguers. In softball, the mound is a third closer. That makes Jennie's fastball feel like it's boring in at 92 miles an hour. Barry Bonds took a rain check on trying to hit it.

"I'll have my people call your people and we can set it up," Jennie told Bonds.

"Oh, it's on! You can call me direct!" said the San Francisco Giants' star.

She grew up admiring Magic Johnson's joy and Orel Hersheiser's mechanics. Now, Jennie's an idol herself. Like Mia Hamm did with soccer, Jennie's trying to put softball in the spotlight.

She's a cover girl, with lots of male fans as well. But Jennie has her sights set on one guy. She's engaged to major league pitcher Casey Daigle.

Brokaw: "Does that mean you have to have a separate compartment of your mind, one for the gold medal, one for walking down the aisle?"

Finch: "No, right now it's strictly all gold medal."

The Finches say Jennie's already won.

"Take away all of her softball accomplishments, she's still a neat person," says mom Beverly.

Finch: "Growing up, I would pray to God: Please make me normal, please make me normal. I want to go to sleepovers. I want to go to birthday parties. And, sure enough, I'm thanking him for not making me normal."

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