In November, Athletes Unlimited Pro Softball announced a multi-year agreement with Wichita State University to bring professional women’s sports to Kansas, becoming the first pro women’s sports league ever to play a full season in Wichita. Beginning next summer, Wilkins Stadium, home of Wichita State Softball, will play host to AU Pro Softball’s AUX competition.
“I think the fans are super excited because we don’t have any pro sports in Wichita. So to see athletes play at a high level, I think they will get a good response from the Wichita community and see what we can do from there,” Stewart-Hunter said.
Stewart-Hunter was born and raised in Wichita. From there, softball has taken her around the country and world. She went to the University of Florida where she spent four years with the Gators and became a two-time national champion. Her years with the USA Women’s National team took her to British Colombia, Toronto, and the Netherlands competing in the Pan American Games and World Cups. She finally reached the ultimate location competing with Team USA at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
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Now, her journey has brought her back to where it all started. She was seven when she first began playing softball, almost by chance. A friend’s mom called to see if she wanted to play on their youth team and Stewart-Hunter’s parents thought, “She has nothing better to do, so why not?”
She joined and played with the Blitz Softball travel team that her dad coached. That “why not” led to two national championships with the Gators, multiple world championships, and an Olympic silver medal.
She had “nothing better to do” than become one of the best infielders in the country and play at the highest level.
Her pro career brought her to AU Pro Softball for the league’s inaugural season and in 2021 she added another medal to her collection as the third-place medalist. Amidst continuing to pursue her pro career, Stewart-Hunter got married and became a mother to her son Trace. She trained to return to softball and took the field again in 2023. In her first championship season back, she finished in the top 10 on the leaderboard.
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AU Pro Softball’s AUX competition features 18 games across two weeks with the world’s best athletes competing in an innovative format to crown an individual champion. The 2024 event in Wichita will take place June 10 to June 24.
“I’m hoping it just helps grow the game of softball,” Stewart-Hunter said. “That’s what you try to do every single day. Every time you pick up a ball and bat as a pro, you hope to grow this game … To be able to play in the Midwest and hopefully have that impact – yeah, that’s what you want as a pro athlete.”
Savanna Collins is the Senior Reporter at Athletes Unlimited. You can follow her on Twitter @savannaecollins.
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