Kelly Kretschman was a 4x All-American at Alabama and she won a gold medal with Team USA at the 2004 Athens Olympics and a silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Kelly continued to rack up honors, awards and championships in pro softball, with the Akron Racers, Connecticut Brakettes, Washington Glory and USSSA Pride.
Last season, the Pride defeated the Chicago Bandits in the NPF championship. I interviewed Kelly after Game One. That interview can be found at On the Beat With Kelly Kretschman.
This interview was very important to me. I don't interview many players other than Bandits, but Kelly has been on my "want" list for a while.
At the Awards Banquet prior to the championship series, Kelly won the first ever Legacy Award and also announced her retirement. That made it even more important that I landed an interview with her.
Kelly gave her thoughts on the first win in the series, as well as winning the Legacy Award and announcing her retirement. She also mentioned playing in Japan. As far as I know, that was her first public comment on her future. Potential scoop aside, I was simply happy to add Kelly to my interview list.
Right from the first time I saw her play years ago, I knew Kelly was special. She maintained an elite level of play even as she entered her late 30's. Kelly was a real professional. She played the game with passion and dedication. She always had time for the fans, too, even at opposing ballparks.
I had talked to Kelly informally many times. I always felt like I was standing with one of the greatest, but also one of the nicest. I always hated to see Kelly and her teams succeed against the Bandits, but I respected her effort and accomplishments. I also enjoyed watching her play because of how good she was.
After the interview and the next night again I thanked Kelly for the interview and for years of enjoyment. Players like Kelly deserve to be recognized from everyone.
I am sure she will succeed wherever life takes her. I wish her success, happiness and all things good. I thank her for all she did for the sport and for me. I'll miss her on the field.
Check ProFastpitch.com for more info on all of the NPF players and teams. Also, checkl ChicagoBandits.com for info on the team I cover.
Kelly Kretschman and me in Rosemont, IL-August 2019.