This July 20, 2009, file photo shows United States' Jennie Finch, left, holding her individual plaque and her son, Ace, following the World Cup of Softball championship game in Oklahoma City. The U.S. defeated Australia 3-1. Olympic gold medalist Jennie Finch plans to retire next month and bring an end to a 10-year career in which she helped the sport blossom in the United States. The dominating pitcher announced Tuesday, July 20, 2010, that she will play her final games with the U.S. national team this week at the World Cup of Softball in Oklahoma City.

AP file photo

Jennie Finch, the Arizona Wildcats star that became the face of softball worldwide, announced today she will retire from the United States national team after this weekend’s tournament.

Finch, 29, will play in the World Cup of Softball in Oklahoma City before leaving the national team where she was a fixture for 10 years.

She will retire from the professional Chicago Bandits when their season ends next month. Finch told the Star that "it’s gotten harder" to juggle her family and the sport, and that she wants "to have more children in the future."

With softball out of the Olympic Games starting in 2012, however, the national team expected some attrition. 
"Playing USA Softball has been more to me than I ever imagined possible," the pitcher said in a release.

The La Mirada, Calif., native enrolled at the UA before the 1999 season and immediately became a star, winning 24 games as a freshman.

In 2000, she went 29-2 with a 0.79 ERA and walloped a team-high 16 home runs while batting .327.

At one point winning 60 consecutive games, Finch received the Honda Award, given annually to the college game’s best player, in 2001 and 2002.

She won a gold medal in the 2004 Athens Olympic Games and a silver in 2008, and played professionally for the Chicago Bandits and National Pro Faspitch.

Finch has been living in Texas with her husband, pitcher Casey Daigle, who split time this season between Triple-A Round Rock and the Houston Astros, and their 4-year-old son, Ace.

Finch, who keeps a home in Tucson, may be best remembered for her crossover appeal. She was named one of People Magazine’s Most Beautiful People in 2004 and appeared on "The Apprentice" in 2008. Last week, she played in the MLB Legends and Celebrities Softball Game as part of All-Star Game festivities.

She said she plans "continue to be involved with the development of the sport in some way, just not in uniform."

Finch will continue to run softball camps in the future. "Our home’s in Tucson right now," she said. "We’ll go back when Casey’s finished and figure out what the future holds."