What It's Like To Be A Rookie With Athletes Unlimited
After an impressive college softball career in the ACC at Duke University, pitcher Peyton St. George embarked on her first season of professional softball with Athletes Unlimited over the summer.
St. George certainly held her own in the circle as a rookie during the league's 2022 championship season, finishing 32nd on the Athletes Unlimited leaderboard out of 60 players.
Softball America caught up with St. George to discuss her rookie campaign with Athletes Unlimited and learn what it was like for her to play her first season at the professional softball level. Read below for SA's full conversation with the right-handed star.
Softball America: How did it feel to get drafted by Athletes Unlimited?
Peyton St. George: Believe it or not, I wasn’t actually watching the draft when it happened. I was in the nail salon and scrolling through Twitter when I saw my name pop up. I couldn’t stop smiling and it was a surreal experience knowing that I was one of the few players in the country drafted to play at the next level, (which is) something my younger self would never have imagined I would be doing. It was crazy knowing that I had some next steps outlined for me in terms of softball if I wanted to take them.
SA: At what point did you realize you wanted to play professional softball?
PSG: I didn’t really start thinking about playing professional softball until a few months into my last college softball season. Our team was doing pretty well, and the year prior, I was asked to enter the draft but had to turn it down because of my fifth year of eligibility. I don’t think I ever hit a point where I thought, “I’m ready to play professional softball.” I’m more of a person that takes opportunities as they come and tries to make the most of them. I felt that I was put on the exact path that I was supposed to be on.
SA: What was your preparation like before and during the AU season?
PSG: Before the season, I definitely took some time off following my last collegiate game with Duke and then I eased back into some bullpens to increase my volume again. Outside of bullpens, I was pitching live to the Duke players in town and lifting two to three times a week. During the AU season, I would typically throw once during the week outside of games and continue lifting three times a week to maintain my strength and velocity.
SA: How did it feel getting the first start of the season and playing in your first Athletes Unlimited game?
PSG: Being drafted to Team Chidester and getting the first start of the season was such an exciting moment. It really solidified the thought that I was truly where my feet were and I was supposed to be here with all of these amazing women.
SA: What was your highest moment from your rookie season?
PSG: Going into our Saturday game of Week 5, I was put in to close the game and there were 100 points on the line. I love going into pressure situations, that’s what the game is all about. Luckily, it ended in a strikeout and my entire team came running up to me with open arms and celebration. That was my favorite moment of my rookie campaign, hands down.
SA: What is your favorite memory off the field from your rookie season?
PSG: My all-time favorite memory of the entire season was definitely waking up at 5 a.m. with my team on Friday of the last week and jumping into Lake Michigan with inner tubes and eating donuts after. I think this was one of the reasons why our team was so close because we all shared a really cool memory together on game day.
SA: Who is the toughest hitter you faced during your rookie season?
PSG: Either Haylie McCleney or Sahvanna Jaquish.
SA: What's the biggest takeaway you had from your rookie season?
PSG: The biggest takeaway I had from AU in terms of pitching is that you don’t have to be super fancy with your pitches, even at the highest level. As long as you can connect with your catcher and call sequences that set up the next pitch to then locate your fastball and keep hitters off balance with changeups, you are going to be effective.
SA: Should we expect you back next season?
PSG: Most definitely!