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McCann Driven to Return Home at Missouri

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The nostalgic drives started rather spontaneously.

Missouri freshman pitcher Marissa McCann hopped in her Nissan Rogue one Tuesday night last fall and decided to visit her childhood home. McCann’s family moved from Columbia, Missouri to Surprise, Arizona when she was 11, but McCann’s heart never left her hometown.

Blasting Taylor Swift and singing along to every lyric, McCann spotted the driveway where she played basketball as she approached the house. She grew wistful seeing the spot on the grass where she learned to pitch, and the backyard where she would play home run derby with her siblings.

After sitting in her car for a few minutes, reflecting on all the good times, McCann continued her drive. She rolled past her old elementary school and headed to her grandparents’ house for a visit.

McCann took the same route in each of the following weeks, adding more stops along the way. She visited the field where she started playing T-ball, restaurants where her family shared meals and places she frequented with friends.

McCann never needed directions for her weekly Tuesday drives. Once she got behind the wheel, her internal map from sitting beside her parents for years took over.

“It was really calming,” McCann said. “I had a lot of stuff going on and to have one night where I could drive around and just listen to music and take in my childhood memories gave me a lot of peace.”

McCann grew up dreaming about playing for Missouri. Despite relocating to Arizona, she never lost hope about wearing the black and gold. But she worried the move across the country may hurt her chances. McCann started losing hope until she joined a club team based in Kansas City (Select Fastpitch) during her junior year of high school.

Missouri head coach Larissa Anderson and her staff noticed McCann’s talent and began recruiting her to join the Tigers. McCann still remembers every detail about her first phone call with Anderson.

“I was sick with the flu, but I was smiling. I thought there was no way this is happening right now,” McCann said. “It was amazing, and she texted after saying was great talking with you today with a black and gold heart after. I told her, ‘Thank you so much. You made my day. Honestly, you made my year.’”

McCann took her official visit to Missouri on her birthday – “the best gift ever” – and committed to the Tigers the following week. Everything had finally come full circle for the Columbia native.

“I told my parents I wanted to go to the University of Missouri, and I just started bawling my eyes out and they started bawling their eyes out,” McCann said. “It’s such a cool thing to say I am going back home. I still get emotional talking about it.”

Anderson was thrilled to have such a quality talent like McCann want to return to Missouri. She sees great potential in the freshman, both from a pitching and leadership perspective.

“It is really special for her to be back here where it all started for her,” Anderson said. “I know it’s something she really wanted to be a part of, and we are thrilled to have her in our program. It’s been fun to see her relive some of her childhood memories since she’s come back and get to experience that again.”

McCann never stopped cheering for Missouri, even with a move across the country. She idolized a lot of the former players, and still can’t believe she is teammates with Jenna Laird, Laurin Krings and Alex Honnold after watching them from afar the last few years.

“I fan girl over them. I am not even joking,” McCann said. “I see Jenna Laird playing shortstop or see Laurin Krings pitching next to me and think, ‘Wow. This is insane.’ I 100 percent fan girl. It’s just the coolest thing ever I can be here with Missouri across my chest with these teammates.”

McCann made her debut for the No. 11 Tigers last weekend, going 2-0 while allowing four hits and three runs in 4.0 innings pitched against NC State and South Alabama. The righthander’s nervous energy and excitement of finally getting to represent Missouri was matched only by her will to win.

“Whatever role is given to me is the role I want to play,” McCann said. “Coach Anderson always says, ‘Own it.’ Everything you do and whatever role you are given, whether it’s sitting on the bench cheering on teammates or coming into a game at the end or starting, I just want to be the best at that role for my teammates.”

McCann can’t drive around the city every Tuesday night during the season like she did in the fall. But any day she gets time, she hops in the Rogue, cues up Taylor Swift and continues her own Nostalgia Era Tour around Columbia.

“It’s just so surreal being back here,” McCann said. “I am truly blessed how everything has happened.”

If you have any great college softball stories for Rhiannon to write about, email her at [email protected]