Arizona is Point Guard U. during the basketball season. It might be time to add another title.
Broadcaster U., anyone?
Ex-Arizona Wildcat Jennie Finch, a softball legend, has been calling games for ESPN and the Pac-12 networks since 2011, one year after retiring from the sport.
Tuesday, former UA pitcher Kenzie Fowler officially joined the club. The UA journalism grad started an internship with the Pac-12 Network that will run though mid-October.
Now, another Wildcat pitcher is on track to enter the club. Michelle Floyd, a right-hander entering her sophomore year and a journalism student, was tabbed to help call games at the World Cup of Softball in Irvine, California, last week. She announced three games, which streamed on the event’s website.
“It was an amazing experience,” Floyd said. “I was able to learn so much because there were people from within the industry that I got to call the games with, and it really helped me show what I need to do to improve and show me that it’s exactly what I want to do in life, that I’m on the right path.”
Floyd, who was 4-0 with a 1.27 ERA in nine appearances for the Wildcats last year, is aiming to get involved with international sports broadcasting, her ultimate goal being the Olympics. She’s semi-fluent in Japanese, with plans to pursue it as a minor.
Her first real experience, though, came at the World Cup on July 9.
For her first game, co-anchoring with an umpire, she got to call the Mexico-Venezuela game, starring a familiar face — former UA pitcher and Tucsonan Estela Piñon, who was pitching for Mexico.
“Just from softball over the years, I knew a lot of girls on the Mexico national team,” she said, “so that helped a lot.”
Other Wildcats were in town, too. Kellie Fox and Hallie Wilson played for the U.S. team, but Floyd didn’t call those games since ESPN was broadcasting them.
For those first two games, she switched off with her co-host between play-by-play and color commentating.
“It was different in that it was not quite conventional considering how there’s usually a designated play-by-play and color. But for just starting out, getting comfortable, talking on the air and trying to communicate the info from the game to the viewers and trying to make it as interesting as possible, it was a great place to start.”
For her third and final game, she was paired with Rod Bennett, who has experience doing play-by-play for the Little League World Series. She picked his brain whenever she could.
The best advice Bennett gave her? Keep it short.
“One of the biggest things I learned was how to convey the info,” she said. “The analysis of a swing or why a pitcher threw that particular pitch, and being able to contain it in 20 words instead of 30.”
From a softball perspective, Floyd certainly wishes she had been out there playing. But she should be doing plenty of that next season, anyway. The Wildcats lose three starting pitchers from last year’s team — Fowler, Piñon and Shelby Babcock — so the 6-foot-3-inch Floyd should have a larger role for Arizona in 2015.
She’s not thinking that far ahead, though.
“It’ll be fun to see what happens this upcoming year, but that’s pretty far down the line,” Floyd said. “Right now I’m in the goal-setting stage, working on accomplishing those goals, and when it comes down to it, we’ll just have to see what happens this year.”
As for the broadcasting, Floyd said she enjoyed it “so much. I just want to keep on doing it.”