A.J. Andrews, one of the top professional softball players in the country, recently encouraged younger female participants in her sport who reside in the D.C. metropolitan area to pursue their dreams with determination and hard work.
“Go out and achieve your dreams,” Andrews said to 30 high school and college softball players on Feb. 28 at the Ivy City Smokehouse in Northeast. “Be willing to put in the work, the time and the effort and in the end, you will be a winner in this sport and in life.”
Andrews, who plays for the Akron Racers of the National Pro Fastpitch League, made history in 2016 when she became the first woman to win the prestigious Rawlings Gold Glove Award, given for years exclusively to Major League Baseball players and now those playing professional softball, for their play in various positions. Before turning pro, Andrews excelled at Louisiana State University by twice participating in the Women’s College Series and receiving her bachelor’s degree in 2015.
She emerged as a standout softball player at Countryside High School in Clearwater, Fla., leading the state in stolen bases and batting average as a senior. The Tampa Bay Times honored her as the “Pinellas Player of the Year” for the sport of softball.
Andrews said getting the scholarship to LSU came as a result of persistence and diligence.
“When I was a child, I dreamed of being an amazing athlete,” she said. “I wanted to win a Division I scholarship. I told my father what I wanted to do and he listened and said to remember that there is always somebody better than you. I used that as motivation to be the best that I could. I studied my craft. I studied those who played softball and tried to emulate their best, winning qualities.
“Plus, I worked out harder than my teammates by doing the extra reps and putting in the extra hours. I made sure I was the first person to practice and the last to leave. When I started doing this I noticed my desire to be the best translated into the classroom and in life. I wanted to be the best student, player and person I could be.”
Andrews said, “A good attitude and a healthy view of failure will help you go a long way.”
“If you play softball long enough you will fail, whether it is losing a game or not doing as well as you wanted on the team,” she said. “Many people believe failure is the end and one cannot come out of it. That’s not true. Change your mindset. Failure is a stepping stone to success. It is important that you ladies understand that failure is a part of success.”
Featured in ESPN Magazine’s Body Issue
Andrews has encountered a lot of success since becoming a professional. Before playing for Akron, she started her professional career with the Chicago Bandits, taken in the second round of the 2015 National Pro Fastpitch league draft.
In addition to winning the Gold Glove Award, she co-won the Rally Spike Award as the league’s stolen base leader in 2016. The following year, she received national attention for being featured in ESPN’s 2017 The Magazine’s Body Issue in revealing poses.
After the talk, former D.C. Council member Harry Thomas Jr., the head softball coach at Washington Adventist University in Takoma Park, Md., presented Andrews with a council resolution sponsored by D.C. Council member Anita Bonds (D-At Large) praising her achievements. Jacqueline Manning, the chair of the 5C advisory neighborhood commission, also presented Andrews with a complimentary resolution.
Madison Moon, a sophomore at Hayfield Secondary School in Alexandria, Va., who plays softball in-school and out of school, said Andrews inspired her.
“Her message really touched me,” Moon said. “I didn’t feel like she was preaching but encouraging us to be the best we can be.”