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Top Softball Players Don't All Come from Elite College Programs

Pennsylvania Rebellion rookie pitcher Hayley Flynn is proof positive that star softball players don’t all come from the powerhouse college programs. Flynn, a Chandlersville, Ohio, native, reached the NPF this season after four years playing for Eastern Kentucky in the Ohio Valley Conference.

“I was trying to get recruited into college and was having a tough time of it, but my senior year I ended up on a gold team,” Flynn said. “I’m from a small town in Ohio and knew nothing about gold ball, but my coach made some phone calls for me and I visited EKU, loved it and said yes on the spot.”

Through four years at EKU, Flynn starred for the Colonels as a starting pitcher. As a senior in 2016, she posted a 26-10 record with a 2.14 ERA and .925 fielding percentage. Still, coming from the Ohio Valley Conference, Flynn wasn’t even thinking about a pro softball career.

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“It hadn’t crossed my mind; I felt lucky to have even gotten to play Division I,” she said. “I’m lucky my parents have always been one step ahead of me my whole career and mentioned it me.”

Her college coaches were also instrumental, especially assistant coach Whitney Arion, who doubles as an infielder for the Rebellion. After the college season ended, Flynn’s coaches suggested she attend an open tryout with the Rebellion.

Soon afterward Flynn, who hopes to attend medical school, was at home studying for the MCAT when she got a call from the Rebellion letting her know that she’d made the team.

Flynn credits the culture at EKU for helping her get noticed.

“I think they (Rebellion coaches) heard about and appreciated my work ethic at the tryouts,” Flynn said. “EKU is a smaller school, but the Rebellion coaches are great people who take notice of those who work hard.”

For Arion, it was a no brainer that Flynn should try out.

“She was having a great year (at EKU),” Arion said. “I told her it would be a good idea and she should give it a shot because she would regret not doing it. So she did it, and it worked out. I’m really happy for her.”

In just a matter of weeks, Arion and Flynn went from being a coach and player to teammates. It wasn’t much of a transition, Flynn said.

“I didn’t find it weird at all because she mainly worked with the hitters (at EKU),” Flynn said. “I just am doing the same thing we always did at EKU, bothering the heck out of her in the dugout. At EKU, I would stand in the dugout behind her and use her as an armrest or crack jokes to her, so I’m doing the same thing now.”

Flynn pitched in nine NPF games during her rookie season, starting one, and ended with a 9.13 ERA.

“She’s a great person and a great character,” Arion said. If there’s anyone that I can share this time with, this experience with from the team it would definitely be her.”

From GameChanger and Maren Angus.

Softball, Softball Player Development