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Finch headlines Women in Sports event

MLB.com @scottmerkin

CHICAGO -- Somewhere in the crowd of 25 girls at Guaranteed Rate Field's Conference and Learning Center Friday night could have been the next Jennie Finch.

And if they don't end up as one of the most accomplished softball players of all time, then maybe they will be part of a Major League Baseball team's front office, such as White Sox senior director of Minor League Operations Grace Zwit. Let's also not forget the coaching avenue, represented Friday by Patty Gasso, the head softball coach for the University of Oklahoma.

CHICAGO -- Somewhere in the crowd of 25 girls at Guaranteed Rate Field's Conference and Learning Center Friday night could have been the next Jennie Finch.

And if they don't end up as one of the most accomplished softball players of all time, then maybe they will be part of a Major League Baseball team's front office, such as White Sox senior director of Minor League Operations Grace Zwit. Let's also not forget the coaching avenue, represented Friday by Patty Gasso, the head softball coach for the University of Oklahoma.

All three were part of the private, pregame event called "Game Changers: Women in Sports." The event featured a discussion and Q&A session, where questions about role models and getting started in their specific field were expertly asked by young women who participate in the White Sox Jersey program and Bulls/Sox Academy programs.

"It's so important and something that I absolutely adore," said Finch, who was set to run her softball camp Saturday for 200 kids from more than 20 states. "Empowering, giving them strength and courage to face not only the athletic field but life in general, and share some of the stories we went through and encourage them, give them a boost and just be a testament of, 'You can do anything.'

"There's so much opportunity through sport, either on the field or not on the field. Gender doesn't play a part in that."

Tweet from @whitesox: .@JennieFinch���s first pitch was straight 🔥! pic.twitter.com/hDzNXeCzEX

Game Changers is a signature event series for the White Sox diversity and inclusion campaign called "BasebALL: One Game for All." The campaign emphasizes the importance of being kind to others, accepting individual differences and preventing bullying among youth through sports.

The opportunity for young women today is different from when Finch started out, on her way to becoming an Olympic softball gold medalist, an All-American pitcher and an MLB youth softball ambassador.

"I never got to see it on TV," Finch said. "These girls are growing up watching college softball on their TV every weekend during the season. They are that much further ahead. They realize they can do anything. They can Google any sport and see a female athlete represent that sport. I never had that opportunity growing up.

"Golf, swimming, anything across the board. I saw a woman on TV and it was, 'I'm locked in and I don't care what sport it is.' There's one after another when they turn the channel. It's exciting for them to know there are no limits."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox