Bandits pitcher loves volunteering as much as playing
Bandits pitcher Monica Abbott was feeling more and more anxious.
No, she wasn't working on another perfect game. She was counting food.
In the fourth year of her annual Monica Abbott Softball Tournament in Salinas, California, the participating teams brought in canned foods for donation.
"The greatest feeling is just seeing all the cans and waiting to find out how many cartons (are raised)," Abbott said.
The final total was a whopping 1,264 pounds of food.
It's all part of the tournament festivities. The tournament has three age divisions -- 10U, 12U and 14U -- and all teams compete to see who can bring in the most canned food.
The winning team gets to have Abbott as a coach for an inning.
"The second year the tournament went on I was like, 'OK, let's try and find a way to incorporate something,' and we came up with a lot of different ideas, but the canned food drive was one that we thought that would be good timing, because it's right before Thanksgiving," Abbott said. "It's worked out really good. It's been a really big success."
For Abbott, it was a no-brainer to have a way to give back.
"Just help some people out during the holiday season," Abbott said. "Keep people healthy and give them good nutrition so they can go out and live a happy life and they don't have to worry about that kind of stress. I just want to be able to give back to my community."
She's given a lot back to her Bandits teammates, too. On July 23, Abbott threw her second perfect game.
"After the last out, I was kind of in a daze," Abbott said. "I wasn't really sure what was going on."
Abbott just threw her glove in the air and was hugged by catcher Taylor Edwards. Then the rest of the team joined in on the celebration.
"It was an incredible feeling," Abbott said. "I want to do it again so I could feel that again."
The odds are in her favor. Abbott, who has also played 7 seasons professionally in Japan, has thrown 7 perfect games in her career; her first one in a Bandits uniform came on Aug. 4, 2011, and she added a no-hitter this season on Aug. 3.
Abbott threw the first perfect game in Olympic history in 2008 against the Netherlands.
"I think they're all different in their own right, but this one for sure sticks out right now," Abbott said. "It's a great one."
The Monica Abbott Tournament and subsequent food drive aren't the only ways she chooses to give back. She also gives out two yearly scholarships to high school female athletes. Each scholarship is worth $1,000, but she hopes to increase the scholarship amount to $5,000 in 2018 and then to a full ride when there is enough funding.
"There's so many great athletes out there and I would hate for a female athlete not to have (the) opportunity to play somewhere because they got (only) a little bit of a scholarship," Abbott said. "I really just wanted to empower some of the young females in America or in my community and allow them to worry just about school a little bit, their next step."
And that gives her as much joy as a perfect game.
"Yeah, (but) a different kind of feeling," Abbott said with a laugh.