+Jennie Finch is one of those rare athletes who transcends sports to become a cultural and entertainment icon. But behind the magazine covers and ESPY trophies is a fiercely competitive player who doesn't just want to win, but "dominate everybody I face." +
+We spoke to her during the World Cup of Softball to find out how she throws that amazing riseball, what it's like to wear the USA Softball uniform and to check in on the pitching development of her one year-old son, Ace. +
*I'll start with a question every softball fan is dying to find out? Do we know if Ace is a right-hander like yourself or a southpaw like her dad? (Finch is married to Arizona Diamondback pitcher, Casey Daigle.) *We don't. He's more left-handed than he is right-handed at this point. He's a little bit both. I'm really hoping he's a righty.
*How's his change-up? *It's good. (Laughs) His slider is looking good...
*I assume you were keeping an eye on your alma mater, Arizona, during their championship run in the Softball College World Series? *Of course. I'm close to everyone in the program because we live in Tucson. It was really exciting to watch. We were all cheering. It was a group of us alumni who were texting and phoning, "Oh! We're going to win!"
*Is there something in the drinking water over there? *It's called Coach Candrea and the history of the program.
*You mention on your web site it's good for softball athletes to narrow their college choices to five universities when choosing where they're going to play collegiate ball. Which five were you thinking of? And why did you choose Arizona? *Actually I had two. I went to University of Washington and Arizona on recruiting trips. But I chose Arizona because of Coach, the tradition of the Arizona program and it was closer to home. The weather had a lot do with it too.
*Being a role model to so many young girls who did you look up to growing up? *It's kind of funny. When I was really little it was Orel Hershiser, Magic Johnson and Steve Sax. As the sport of softball grew I started to hear about players like Lisa Fernandez and Dot Richardson. I remember going on the '96 tour and waiting to get autographs. That was awesome and got me really going for softball.
*Turning to the world cup, what's the frame of mind of the team as you begin your title defense? *We're excited to be back on our home turf. Last World Cup it was so much fun walking into the stadium. There's just no greater feeling than wearing your country across your chest and seeing all those flags everywhere. The little girls dreaming about being in that uniform -- that excites you.
*People really loved those "This Week in Baseball" segments where you pitched to major-league baseball players. I'm curious, who was the toughest out? *Hmmm. Well that would have to be Sean Casey.
*No way! The Sean Casey of the Detroit Tigers. *He got a hit off a riseball. Gotta go with him.
*He should have that fact tattooed on his arm. I had no idea. Speaking of the riseball what's the secret to a Jennie Finch riseball? *It's a tough pitch to throw but using your legs and getting underneath it is the key. Getting the right spin of the ball is super important.
*You credit biomechanist, Dr. Sheri Warner, with much of your success? How so? *Just by giving me the most safe and efficient pitching mechanics available. I still keep in touch with her to find out how I'm doing, how are my mechanics. Where can I get more out of my body and what are the dangers?
*Turning to the Olympics what do you think are the chances of it being voted back? *Hopefully huge. We're trying to do everything we can. Events like the World Cup help keep the interest for the young girls and hopefully keep the dream of USA Softball alive. Whether it's with the Olympics or not.
+ (Photo courtesy of Omar Torres/AFP+)