Former Nitro gearing up for baseball World Cup

GLENDALE — Smashing softballs over the fence became a common occurrence when Jenny Dalton starred for the Glendale High softball team nearly 20 years ago.

It seemed like Dalton could do no wrong, as the 1992 Glendale graduate proved to be arguably the most dominant female athlete to ever dot the local scene. She earned All-CIF honors in softball, basketball and volleyball. But, it was on the diamond where she made a name for herself, hitting a then-CIF record 28 career home runs and leading the Nitros to a pair of Pacific League championships.

Now known as Jenny Dalton-Hill, she will look to represent her country with the same substance as she represented the Glendale area by serving as a designated hitter/first baseman with the United States Baseball Women's National Team.

On deck for Dalton-Hill and the United States is a trip to Venezuela, where the 2010 International Baseball Federation (IBAF) World Cup will be held. The event will begin today and continue through Aug. 22 near Caracas.

It will mark the first time Dalton-Hill will compete since 1997, when the former University of Arizona standout competed on the Silver Bullets, an all-women's baseball team that toured the United States.

"It's been one of those things where I thought I would be done playing," said Dalton-Hill, a Lexington, Ky. resident who led Arizona to three national championships between 1993-96. "Then I had the opportunity to play [for the World Cup] and I saw it as a different challenge.

"I heard about this opportunity in March and I figured what fun it would be to play once again. At first, I questioned whether I would do it because I hadn't picked up a bat or glove in almost 13 years. It's very different changing from softball to baseball and it was a timing issue for me at first."

Dalton-Hill, a first-team All-American three times and the 1996 National Player of the Year at Arizona, is one of 20 members on the American squad. America will kick off the tournament at 11 a.m. PDT today against Japan at Jose Perez Stadium in Maracay.

The United States, coached by Don Freeman, concluded exhibition competition Monday against the Southern Stars in Cary, N.C., before leaving for the trip to South America on Tuesday. Dalton-Hill had a pair of hits and three runs batted in during the United States' 16-2 win.

"We are all looking forward to the trip and being able to compete in the World Cup," said Dalton-Hill, a mother of three, who left Arizona as the holder of eight NCAA softball records. "It will be exciting to represent the United States.

"It's a dream come true and something I thought would never happen."

Freeman said Dalton, 36, can draw on her wealth of experience from her days at Arizona to provide stability for the United States in pressure-packed contests.

"She's been there and done it all before," Freeman said. "She's got the confidence and she's receptive to what we want to do.

"We have a lot of good young players on our team. People like Jenny, and some of our older players can help stabilize the younger players. She knows what she's doing."

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