The Norman Transcript

June 28, 2012

Fischer beats longshot odds to represent mid-major programs with Team USA

By Michael Kinney
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — The odds were stacked against Samantha Fischer. Coming from Loyola Marymount University, she wasn’t considered a favorite to even be invited to the USA Softball Women’s National Team selection camp, much less make the team.

However, Fischer’s name was called to become part of Team USA.

“It’s like a dream,” Fischer said. “It was always a dream; now it still feels like a dream. Being able to live it out has been the greatest experience. Some of the best softball players I’ve ever seen and played with. It’s just been the experience of a lifetime, and I’ve only been doing it for a week.”

The 18-member USA Women’s National team will compete in six different events in the United States and Canada. That includes the World Cup of Softball VII, which starts today at Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City.

A year ago, Fischer would not have been able to imagine touring the country with the best players in the nation. She was just heading into her senior season at LMU looking to improve her game.

But after the Simi Valley, Calif., native finished the year leading all NCAA Division I players with her .492 batting average to go along with 23 home runs and 59 RBIs, she became the Lions’ first All-American. Then a dream she had as a kid resurfaced once again.

“It’s always something I dreamed of,” Fischer said. “Just the biggest dream. When I was younger it was, ‘How cool would that be?’ As I got older I started to get a little more realistic. How many girls get to play for Team USA? Not that many. Then my senior year came around for LMU and I had a big year. So I was like, ‘Maybe I can be one of those few girls.’”

Fischer said she started crying after getting the email inviting her to tryouts. But that emotion was soon replaced by knowing how hard she would have to work to earn a spot. With 20 players vying for five remaining spots, she remained optimistic.

“When Coach (Ken) Eriksen called us each in individually, I was so nervous because I knew I had done pretty well at the camp but had no idea what was going to happen,” Fischer said. “He started talking to me about travel ball and school and kind of beat around the bush for a minute until he finally said, ‘Well, Sam, you’re a member of the United States National Softball Team.’ I have never been so exited in my life. It is something I’ve been working toward since I was a kid, and to be lucky enough to live out this dream — I feel like I’m on top of the world.”

Fischer’s parents were just as ecstatic.

“Dad was so excited,” Fischer said. “Because it was my dream, it was his dream to. My mom is such a realist. She said let’s wait and see what happens. So when I found out I was on the team, she was crying the most. She had been holding it all in.”

As excited as Fischer has been and enjoying the entire situation, she knows when it’s time to work.

“When it comes to practices and game time, you do what you’re here to do,” Fischer said. “I felt like I’ve kept myself pretty grounded while my head is still up in the clouds.”

Fischer has an ulterior motive for wanting to perform well. She believes she can be a inspiration for the girls who didn’t go to softball factories that compete for national championships every year. Of the 18 players on the team, only she and Louisiana Labette’s Christi Orgeron come from non-power conferences.

“I just want those girls to know that you really don’t have to go to a big school in the Big 10 or PAC 12 or SEC to be the best player that you can be,” Fischer said. “I went to LMU and I hadn’t even heard of LMU when I first got recruited there. It’s just a matter of working hard for what you want. If you want to play for Team USA, you can play for your local rec ball team and put your mind to it. Just realize that anything can happen if you put your mind to it.”

Michael Kinney 366-3537 mkinney@normantranscript.com