Olympic gold medallist Jennie Finch has been named as a youth softball ambassador for Major League Baseball (MLB).
Finch, who is also an ambassador for the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC), will support MLB’s youth programmes with initiatives and strategies that are designed to grow softball at amateur and youth levels.
In addition to her duties as an ambassador of softball, she will also support an effort to promote girl’s baseball.
Finch led the United States’ women’s softball team to Olympic gold at Athens 2004 and silver at Beijing 2008.
She continues to work with the WBSC for the sport as a global athlete ambassador.
"It is an honour to serve in this new role with Major League Baseball to grow the sport that has given so much to me and millions of girls and women throughout the country," Finch said.
"Together, we will promote youth participation at the grassroots level, while also helping develop the skills of players ready for the next level.
"This is a really special time for softball and I am thrilled to play a small part in this effort to increase opportunities to play the greatest game ever created."
Finch graduated from the University of Arizona in 2002 after a record-breaking softball career, including a perfect junior season on the mound - 32-0 - and a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Women’s College World Series Championship in 2001.
She also pitched for the Chicago Bandits in the National Pro Fastpitch league from 2005 to 2010 and continues to host instructional softball camps throughout America.
"Jennie Finch is one of the most accomplished female athletes in history and we are thrilled she will be assisting us to grow the game of softball," said Tony Reagins, the MLB’s senior vice-president of youth programmes.
"Increasing youth and amateur participation is a central goal for our department.
"We know that Jennie’s passion, insight and talent will be invaluable to our efforts during this special moment for our sport."
Finch’s appointment is the latest in a string of efforts by MLB to increase softball participation.
The organisation announced a partnership with USA Softball in June of last year, particularly focusing on the national governing body’s support of "PLAY BALL", an initiative to encourage widespread participation in all forms of baseball and softball activities.
MLB and USA Softball also created the inaugural Softball Breakthrough Series (BTS) in 2016.
The BTS is designed to promote softball as a viable collegiate option for youth from underrepresented and underserved communities.
The event is cost-free for participants, who are selected by invitation only.
The 2017 BTS is due to be held from June 11 to 15 in Oklahoma City, which is where USA Softball operates.