Alumna and Chicago Bandits pitcher Morgan Foley was nominated as a contender for the United States Sports Academy’s Female Athlete of the Year. The list of nominations includes athletes from around the world, such as Olympic gymnast Simone Biles and professional tennis player Serena Williams. This is Foley’s first season playing for the Bandits, as well as her first nomination for this specific award.
This nomination is one of Foley’s many awards and accolades. During her time at UIndy, she received a plethora of awards such as Division II Pitcher of the Year, First Team All-American and February 2016’s Athlete of the Month, along-side National Basketball Association star Stephen Curry. She remains UIndy’s leader in all-time strikeouts and innings pitched, and also she was the first Division II player to be added to the Bandits roster.
Foley began playing softball at a young age and her family pushed her to try every sport she could. During high school, she played softball and basketball before committing to play softball at the collegiate level.
Foley studied sports broadcasting and joined UIndy TV her freshman year, eventually becoming sports director her sophomore year. She said that the impressive softball program, along with the opportunities in the communication department, persuaded her to choose UIndy as her new home.
“I did UIndy TV, and so being the sports director for that was so much fun. And I learned a lot from that,” Foley said. “And just how small the campus is and being an athlete and having my softball family. I just loved being a part of the softball program, traveling and getting to know everyone in the communication department and in the softball and athletics department.”
Head Softball Coach Melissa Frost recruited and coached Foley for all of her four years as a Greyhound. The recruiting process for Foley was unique compared to others, according to Frost.
“Morgan was a two-sport standout athlete of basketball and softball and made the decision late in her career, actually senior year, to play softball,” Frost said. “We received a phone call from an alum from another team in our conference that basically said they thought they had a young lady who would be a good fit for our program. And we got in the car and drove four hours, and she struck out the first nine batters that she saw. So that was enough for us to get her to the recruiting process.”
Frost said that she knew when signing Foley, that they had someone special. During her time at UIndy, Foley gained a changeup and a drop ball. What really sets Foley apart is not only her great curve ball, but her competitiveness and drive to win.
“I think anytime you have a four-time All-American on the mound, it really sets a precedent and sets a confidence for your team. And I think that’s huge,” Frost said. “She just continued to improve every single year that she was here. She had the opportunity to play with another All-American her first year and she really gained quite a bit of experience from that. But she also had a very different pitching style than the other young lady that was here, and she really took off in the beginning. We threw her against the No. 1 team in the country, and she beat them. So that really set the precedent for the rest of her career.”
According to Frost, Foley was put on the national radar during a game in Ohio, when a National Fastpitch umpire had the opportunity to watch her perform. The gentleman called the president of the league and explained that Foley could not be passed up.
On May 10, Foley signed her first professional contract with the Bandits and made the transition from DII athletics to professional. Foley is one of the few professional athletes and softball players to have come from DII schools.
“It’s [professional softball] the same game just a whole other level,” Foley said. “Hitters are some of the best, which are the best Division I hitters, and some of the best in the country. And playing against all those players that are the top-ranked in the country is just a whole different level. It’s a faster game, a more intense game. Just the bats not being regulated, just how hard the hitters can hit, the different pitchers and just the players in general is just a whole new ball game.”
Frost said that Foley’s drive made her a top athlete, and one who had the talent to play at the professional level.
Foley said she plans to continue her softball career and has many goals for her future as a player and in her professional career. She also will continue to pursue her sports broadcasting, while giving back for all the opportunities that softball has given her.
“One of my goals is just giving back to the game as much as it gave to me. So whether that’s doing pitching lessons in the future and just seeing pitchers that I coach become successful … or just becoming successful in my major of sports broadcasting.”