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Fiancées Chidester, Urtez Reunite For Athletes Unlimited

(Photo by USA Softball)

ROSEMONT, Ill. — When shortstop Anissa Urtez fielded a ground ball and threw it to first baseman Amanda Chidester in the first game of Athletes Unlimited Season 2, it looked like nothing more than a routine groundout—6-3 in your scorebook. But to Urtez and Chidester, it represented so much more.

Urtez and Chidester became engaged last November, having first met while playing with the Scrap Yard organization in 2018 before starting their relationship that fall. They’re now sharing the field as teammates again after facing each other in the Tokyo Olympics, where Chidester collected a silver medal with Team USA and Urtez played for Mexico.

“We had similar friend groups, so it kind of started from that summer (with Scrap Yard),” Urtez said. “We kind of took things slow from the summer, hung out, went to a few national parks, got to know each other and then we became official in November.”

The two were teammates during that first summer with Scrap Yard, and they’ve been teammates for the first two weeks of AU, but they’ve been opponents for much of their relationship, including on the Olympic stage this summer.

Their first time playing each other since they started dating came during the 2019 National Pro Fastpitch season. Chidester was the NPF Player of the Year for the Chicago Bandits and Urtez played for the Cleveland Comets, which was comprised of several members of the Mexican national team.

“We had been dating for a little bit, but that was in the beginning stages of everything,” Chidester said. “Watching her play and compete (from the other dugout), it was fun. She’s a heck of a shortstop. It was all support, all the time.”

Chidester was left off Team USA’s 2019 roster, leading her to sign a one-year deal with the Bandits. After batting .374 and slugging .814 with a league-leading 15 home runs for Chicago, she went into the national team’s fall tryouts with renewed confidence and made the preliminary roster for the Olympics, which at the time was still scheduled for the summer of 2020.

Urtez’s spot on Team Mexico was more certain, but Mexico had never qualified for the Olympics in softball before. They did so for the first time by winning all eight games at the 2019 WBSC Americas qualifier in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada, and Urtez helped lead the way, hitting .368 with three doubles and six RBI.

“She was working to qualify for the Olympics, and I was working my butt off to even make the USA team,” Chidester said. “During those times, we had conversations back and forth like, ‘we both need to make it.’ When I came back home from tryouts, she and my parents had these signs for me saying ‘Welcome home Olympian.’ So I was feeling the love for sure.”

Chidester and Urtez own a house in the Salt Lake City area—Urtez played her college ball at the University of Utah—but they haven’t been able to spend much time there due to COVID-19 related travel restrictions, training with their respective national teams and the first season of Athletes Unlimited.

Before heading to Tokyo, however, Chidester had an important matter to attend to. Urtez planned a hiking trip for the two of them—unaware of Chidester’s intention to propose—to southern Utah and northern Arizona, and Chidester brought along fellow AU players Hannah Flippen and Sam Fischer.

Toward the end of the trip, they visited Horseshoe Bend, which Urtez called one of her favorite places. Urtez wanted to get there in time to see the sunrise and only later found out that Chidester and the others were slightly delayed because they were taking photos with the engagement ring.

“I had no idea any of it was going to happen,” Urtez said. “I almost forgot to say yes because I was so speechless. It was a really awesome moment to have them there. She usually ruins surprises all the time, but she pulled it off very well.”

Chidester put it more succinctly: “She was rushing to get to her own engagement.”

Ahead of the U.S.-Mexico matchup in Tokyo, Chidester and Urtez said they had a lot of healthy conversations discussing every possible scenario, emphasizing their hope for both countries to win medals. Neither recorded a hit in their head-to-head meeting, which Team USA won 2-0, but both had plenty of clutch moments at the Games.

Chidester had a pair of game-winning hits to help the Americans go unbeaten through round robin play. Her fifth-inning single scored Haylie McCleney for the only run of a 1-0 win over Canada, and her single in the eighth brought in the tying and winning runs in a 2-1 victory against Australia.

Urtez hit two home runs in six games, and both came in key moments—the first was a game-tying blast in the fifth inning in an eventual one-run loss to gold medalists Japan; the second, a two-run shot in a win over Italy that helped Mexico reach the bronze medal game, which they narrowly lost to Canada.

“She had the tournament of her life,” Chidester said. “Everyone was like, ‘Chiddy, Anissa outhit you, what do you think about that?’ I’m so happy she did all those great things. And I know she’s so happy for me for all the great things that I did too. We both worked really hard these last couple years to go out and be the best we could be at those Olympics.”

Chidester and Urtez have already had a number of great moments early in the AU season. Beyond sharing the infield, they’ve batted back-to-back in the lineup in most games. In their first game of Week 1 with Jessie Warren's Orange team, Chidester led off the fourth with a home run, and Urtez followed with a beautiful bunt for a hit. Later that weekend, Chidester advanced to third on an Urtez double.

And on Sunday, playing for Team Osterman, Chidester was intentionally walked to load the bases in the seventh, and Urtez made Team Piper pay by delivering a walk-off single.

“Hitting fourth and fifth in the lineup, that was really cool to be a part of,” Urtez said. “I kind of helped with her defense and she’s helped me with hitting, so it just comes full circle.”

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