Brittany Finney made her first resume when she was 10 years old. She worked on it with her father so she could apply for the position of bat girl for Wamego softball coach Norm Francis. This was in 2006, and by that time Finney already had fallen in love with softball. She first learned the game by tossing a ball with her cousin in her front yard. It was hard, and she hated it at first.
But it didn’t end up being too bad, Finney said. The game was quite kind to her.
And so was Francis, who gave her the job.
“I submitted a resume to Norm and it basically had nothing on it,” Finney said. “But I told him, ‘Here is my resume, I’d like to apply for the job.’ He said, ‘Yes, of course, we’d love to have you.’ So I was the bat girl from 2006 all the way up until my freshman season at Wamego.”
Finney started playing recreational in Wamego around 2004. Once she stood out from the competition, she joined Manhattan Optimist Softball to learn what it takes to be a part of a travel team, moving from tournament to tournament on weekends. Now it’s her livelihood, as earlier this year, Finney signed a contract with Scrap Yard Fast Pitch to play professionally.
Playing for Francis at Wamego High was instrumental in developing her love for the game, Finney’s grandfather, Dale Finney, said. Finney became a shut-down pitcher, dominating her way through the high school game while at Wamego as a freshman. She played her junior and senior years as a star at Bishop Carroll High School, eventually putting in her in a position to pitch for Ole Miss after transferring from Oklahoma following her freshman season.
Despite such success early in her career, Finney didn’t anticipate the opportunity to play pro softball.
“It’s always a dream in the back of every girl’s that they want to play in college, play professionally or they want to go and do all these great things,” Finney said. “But as I got older I think I realized that professional softball is not the same thing professional baseball is. I knew the higher levels I’d get to, the more exclusive they would be, so I had to work really hard. Honestly until my junior year of college I didn’t think I was going to be playing professional softball. It seemed like something I’d always work towards but that it would be just out of reach.”
Finney started thinking about playing professionally during her junior and senior years at Ole Miss, but she was quite late. She began asking her coaches and teammates about the upcoming draft.
“‘I’m going to be upset if I don’t try,” Finney said she recalled thinking. “‘If I don’t try, and it’s 30 years down the line, I’m going to really wish I did.’ So I put myself out there a little bit.”
Finney wasn’t drafted, but she didn’t expect to be. However, she was surprised for her teammate Kylan Becker.
“(Becker) didn’t either, and she had a great year,” Finney said. “She’s a phenomenal athlete, was doing incredible things and breaking records, yet she didn’t get drafted, either. At that point I was kind of like, ‘Huh, that doesn’t feel right.’ The whole draft day just kind of gave me a weird vibe.”
Fortunately for Finney and Becker, their interest in playing pro softball despite not being drafted paid off. The Ole Miss coaching staff already knew Scrap Yard head coach Mike Steuerwald, and Steuerwald was in need.
“They called me on a Sunday night and said ‘Hey, we were thinking, we have one of our girls banged up and a little hurt, so we are missing a couple of girls for some tournaments and we are looking for somebody to fill in,’” Finney said. “Up until that point I had no thoughts really that it was ever going to be a reality. I freaked out and was in the middle of painting my nails and stopped.”
Finney made her professional debut June 30, and has been with the team since. She’s now in Canada, where the team is staying together after playing a daily schedule against national teams like Chinese Taipei, Korea, Puerto, Rico, Japan and Canada.
Next up for Finney and Scrap Yard is the U.S. National Team, which Scrap Yard will play six times between July 23 and July 30.
“It was such a last-minute thing to get here and to play, so now I think my goal is just to have fun and live the experience,” Finney said. “I’m staying in Canada right now and it’s crazy. This has taken me places that I never thought I’d ever reach, so I really just want to live, have fun, and play well enough to continue doing this for years.”