Softball's Alex Hugo Is Making Her Mark On USA Baseball
It doesn't matter whether she's on a baseball or softball field, Alex Hugo is going to mash.
Hugo, a former softball star at the University of Georgia and in the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF), proved that statement true last summer when she helped the USA Baseball women's national team win a gold medal at the COPABE Women's Pan-American Championships. She led Team USA in several offensive categories at the tournament, hitting .652 with four home runs, 18 RBI and a 1.391 slugging percentage to earn MVP honors.
But for Hugo, who played her first season with Team USA in 2018 and went on to receive USA Baseball's Sportswoman of the Year award in 2019, the transition from softball to baseball wasn't exactly seamless.
"It was different," Hugo told Softball America in a phone interview. "I had never played baseball before, so that was interesting. Also, because it was a World Cup year in 2018, my teammates had pressure on them and I put pressure on myself, too. It was a little overwhelming for me."
That summer, Team USA finished in fourth place at the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Women's Baseball World Cup, which left Hugo with both a sour taste in her mouth and valuable experiences to help her build off of for the 2019 season.
"2019 felt a little more natural to me," added Hugo, who was a softball All-American at Georgia. "I think I let go a little bit and had more fun with it. My training was more relaxed and that helped me."
The infielder, who was an offensive force as a softball player, says the biggest difficulty she experienced during her first summer playing baseball occurred at the plate.
"There's a massive speed difference with some people you face in baseball," said Hugo, who owns a hitting facility in Winder, Ga. with her wife called Dirty South Athletics. "I'm used to seeing somebody pitching from 43 feet, so my timing was so off at first. But, I was able to get adjusted to that so I could feel relaxed like I was in softball."
With valuable baseball experiences and a significant amount of repetitions now under her belt, Hugo feels that she and her Team USA teammates are in a prime position to take back the World Cup title next summer for the first time since 2006. The 2020 WBSC Women's Baseball World Cup will take place in Mexico in September, with Team USA's tryouts for the event set to occur in July.
"I want to bring a World Cup title back to the U.S.," Hugo stated. "I'm going to do my best to help with that."
In the lead-up to September's World Cup, Hugo will prepare her body and mind to compete at the highest level in women's baseball, while also continuing to familiarize herself with the nuances and challenges of her new sport.
"There's a unique style in baseball," Hugo said. "It's different, it's fun and it's challenging, but it definitely makes me better. It's a cool outlet and a good way for me to continue to play and try something different."