It's been a while since Erin Bradley took the softball field wearing Mayfield's red and black. But in a couple of months, the former Lady Cardinal will be wearing the red, white and blue of Team USA.
Last year, Bradley was selected to be a member of a new USA Softball Women's Slow Pitch Futures team. In July, the team will play Canada's national team and also square off in a co-ed game against players from the USA National men's and women's teams.
Bradley is a 2003 graduate of Mayfield High School, where she played basketball and softball. She then went on to play college softball at Kentucky Wesleyan College in Owensboro.
Since then, she has played in a United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA) women's softball conference. Her team for the past three years, the Low Bobs, started their 2019 season in March and will play until the world championship tournament in September.
"I'll take a break in July for the USA team, but this is getting me ready," Bradley said. "I look at the USA team as like an all-star break. We're all on different teams throughout the year, and in July we'll come together and play for the USA team."
She described the Futures team as a team for "up-and-coming" players, where the National teams are for more established veterans. But the goal is to reach that National team level.
"It's a big recognition," Bradley added.
The 34-year-old outfielder has been building her recognition for a while. She played on two previous softball teams then moved up in ranking two years ago to face tougher competition.
Last year, she recorded videos of her batting practices that caught the eye of softball equipment producer Miken, which signed her to their advisory staff.
In August, she tried out for the USA Team in Portland, Oregon. Bradley said the prospect drew so much interest from across the country, teams had to be created for skills competitions and tryouts.
She laughed when she recalled getting hit in the head while shagging balls during a home run derby and developing a concussion.
"I had already gone through the skills competition, but I was surprised when I made the team," Bradley laughed, saying the mishap apparently wasn't held against her.
"I thought they would, cause I played like crap!" she said of her game the following day. "I had a huge knot on my head and I couldn't even work for two weeks when I got home."
But she said making the team is a huge honor. While at the tryouts in Oregon, three-time US Softball Olympic medalist Lisa Fernandez spoke about representing the country.
"She kept talking about how amazing it is to put on a uniform that says 'USA' across the chest, and you don't understand the pride and realize you're playing for your country and not a pick-up rec team," Bradley said.
"I think it'll hit me when it's time," she added. "Just already, the recognition I've gotten is neat. I've worked really hard to get ready for it and show what I can do."
The USA National and Futures games with Canada and the co-ed inter-squad game are set for July 26-28 in Midland, Michigan.