EL DORADO HILLS — As a four-year Division I college softball player, Oak Ridge alumni Alicja Wolny did her share of traveling though the trip she left on yesterday might take the cake.
Fresh off ending her tenure playing for the University of Louisville, Wolny flew to England to play for the Great Britain Women’s International softball team. The next stop: Prague, Czech Republic, for the European Championships July 7-13 to qualify for the World Cup next year in Holland.
“I am honored to have to opportunity to compete for Great Britain,” said Wolny in a press release on the school’s Website. “I wasn’t ready to quit playing softball when my college career was over, so I’m really excited to continue playing the sport that I love. This is a dream come true for me.”
In London, Wolny has a built-in fan base, all from her mom Sue’s side. Jay Miller, a volunteer coach with Louisville and a former USA team coach, helped set up the opportunity Alicja has in front of her.
“Jay knows all the coaches and he said to me ‘if you don’t want to play pro ball how about playing for Great Britain?’ It wasn’t one of those things where I didn’t earn it … the coach was sent video clips of me hitting and fielding and I was picked based on that,” said Alicja whose lean toward international ball likely cost her a chance to get drafted.
The fact she set a school record with 55 RBIs out of the three-hole was an eye-opener this past season. So was her team-leading .423 batting average and the fact Alicja’s career numbers places her top 5 all-time in hits, doubles, home runs, RBIs, walks, games played and games started for Louisville.
Alicja’s strong finish helped her team capture the Big East Championship and earned her Second Team All American status, a big accomplishment for the former Lady Trojan.
“That’s a huge honor and a goal I’ve been shooting for all four years,” said Alicja who also shared with two other Louisville athletes the school’s Senior Athlete of the Year award.
Alicja started all four years for the Cardinals. Four times she made the All Big East Team and twice was named to the All Great Lakes Regional Team.
She clubbed 21 home runs her last two seasons, two memorable ones on back-to-back days in the opening rounds of the NCAA playoffs. The first, against Valparaiso, delivered a come-from-behind clutch 6-4 victory with Alicja’s three-run home run rescuing Louisville from the jaws of defeat.
“We were losing in the last inning with two outs and runners on and I hit a first-pitch walk-off,” said Alicja of a dramatic moment that dominated the national news cycle for the next 24 hours.
The next day, Alicja’s three-run home run was the difference in a 3-2 victory over Kentucky. Though Louisville made the postseason all four of her years and hosted three times, the team never advanced out of Regionals.
“That’s my one regret. Individually it went well for me but as a team I wish we could have gone farther and made school history.”
At Oak Ridge, Alicja was a part of three Sac-Joaquin Section championships. Her future plans, aside from 2014′s World Cup in Holland, are to go to grad school for Speech Pathology, possibly at a school where she’ll get to be a graduate assistant coach.
First, though, there’s that pesky matter of jet lag …