Just weeks after graduating from the University of Oregon, former softball players Courtney Ceo, Alexa Peterson and Kailee Cuico have made the jump from college to the professional softball league, the National Pro Fastpitch. After getting drafted during the season, the three are now adjusting to life in the big leagues.
“I couldn’t believe I was standing on the field with some of the people I was,” Ceo said. “It was just a great feeling and made me pretty nervous, but at the same time, I was just so grateful to be on the field.”
Aside from facing world-class players on the field, the three have had little to no time to settle into their new homes. Ceo and Peterson play for USSSA Pride in Orlando, Florida and Cuico is a member of the Akron Racers in Akron, Ohio.
“It’s been a little different for me,” Cuico said. “It’s (Akron) not a college town, the weather is completely 180 (degrees) from Eugene. If there’s one thing I’ve struggled with, it’s been being completely on the other side of the country.”
Luckily for Ceo and Peterson, they have the luxury of being roommates.
“It’s awesome,” Ceo said. “The first day we talked about feeling uncomfortable and it’s just that feeling of having someone who you know. We’ve talked about getting tired of each other, but just a comforting feeling.”
Looking back at their time in college, the three have realized how important their experience was to play at Oregon. Playing against many of their new opponents in the Pac-12 has helped ease the pressure.
“As far as the game itself, I don’t think it’s much different at all,” Cuico said. “It’s comforting to know we came from a school that dominated our conference two years in a row. For me, it’s just remembering we all came from the same place.”
The three left their mark as Ducks and that too has become an immediate advantage in their new careers. Despite the scarcity of fans in the bleachers, all three mentioned interacting with Oregon fans during their first four game series in Mansfield, Texas.
“I’ve had a lot of girls come up after the game and talk to me about (playing for Oregon),” Peterson said. “It’s just really exciting to be able to see that our softball program was able to have an impact on them.”
Not having friends and family in the stands has also added an extra layer of adjustment for the three. Due to the rapidity and distance of their schedule, they won’t be seeing their usual support group in the stands.
“That’s kind of the bummer about going across the country,” Peterson said. “Having to be out on my own and play without tons of family in the stands. But I guess I’m going to have to spread my little Duck wings and go out and be on my own at some point.”
All three are living their childhood dreams of playing professional softball. And while their futures aren’t for certain, they’ll be enjoying their experience for as long as they can.
“I’m extremely excited to see how much it (NPF) can grow,” Peterson said. “I love this sport and I want to see it flourish over the next few years. I’m hoping in the next 10 years we can be able to travel more and wherever we go, have a lot of people come out to watch us play.”