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Shout! Pitches Shutout

15 Sep, 2005 By: Erik Gruenwedel

This summer saw the International Olympic Committee's decision (by one vote) to eliminate women's softball from the 2008 Beijing Games, as well as the Chicago Bandits' 5-4 loss to Akron in the inaugural championship game of the National Pro Fastpitch Softball League. Still, summer's end hardly would appear to dampen the indomitable spirit of Jennie Finch.

As top pitcher and marquee player for the reigning 2004 U.S. Olympic champions as well as the Bandits, Finch's 70-mile-per-hour fastball and .309 batting average belie the usual stereotypes attributed to attractive blondes.

All attributes are on display in Shout! Factory's recent Major League Baseball release: MLB Superstars Show You Their Game ($19.98 DVD), a collection of how-to outtakes from Finch's run as host of Fox TV's “This Week in Baseball.”

Finch relished her opportunity to visit Major League ballparks and interact with players such as Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez and retired icons Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken Jr.. But it is her whiffing a menacing fastball past incredulous players that makes the DVD.

“Those guys weren't just trying to make contact, they were trying to hit it 450 feet out of the ballpark,” Finch said. “In a lot of ways, it [was] to my advantage. Their big long swings won't cut it in [fast-pitch] softball.

“I think they have respect for our sport but [not] until they really see it and find out that we throw breaking pitches and everything else they are used to.”

Former Seattle Mariners infielder Scott Spiezio, after missing the first two pitches, does connect on Finch's third pitch — a changeup — much to her chagrin.

“I couldn't believe it,” Finch said. “He told me I needed to mix up my pitches more after scouting my six different pitches.”

Shout! Factory Oct. 11 will release the third of four scheduled baseball titles, Pure Heat: Ultimate MLB Flamethrowers ($19.98). The 55-minute DVD showcases the careers of some of the game's top pitchers, including Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and Curt Schilling. Extras include extended game footage and highlights of baseball's all-time great pitchers, including Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale and Bob Gibson. Another forthcoming baseball release showcases the 2005 World Series and the Boston Red Sox's historic victory.

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