SAN DIEGO, Calif. – Pitcher Danielle O’Toole won the inaugural Athletes Unlimited AUX Softball competition, finishing with 1,436 points while competing against 42 of the best athletes in the world over a two-week season at San Diego State University.
Coinciding with the 50th anniversary of Title IX and created as an expansion of Athletes Unlimited Softball to provide more playing opportunities and compensation to athletes and more pro softball for fans, AUX Softball (pronounced A-U-X) featured 43 athletes (including 11 Olympians) playing 18 games at the SDSU Softball Stadium, with every game broadcast live exclusively on ESPN platforms. In addition, middle infielder Sis Bates was named GEICO Defensive MVP.
Rounding out the top three athletes on the leaderboard were pitcher Rachel Garcia and catcher Dejah Mulipola.
O’Toole, who finished with a 1.69 earned run average, tied for the league lead with four victories in the circle. In addition, the former Arizona standout also authored 18 strikeouts over 28.2 innings and allowed just seven earned runs.
A native of Chino, Calif., O’Toole posted the first complete game in Athletes Unlimited AUX history on June 23, when she led her squad to a 7-3 victory over Team Fischer. O’Toole allowed three runs on 10 hits while striking out three hitters. She also secured the win in her season finale on Saturday night, scattering four hits over 4.1 innings in a 4-3 triumph over Team Fischer in eight innings.
Like its other leagues, Athletes Unlimited AUX Softball featured a range of scoring innovations to bring athletes and fans a unique and intense version of the sport. Individual athletes earned points based on both team wins and individual performance, with points earned on every play. In addition, teams changed after each three game series, with the top four athletes in the standings serving as captains and drafting their teams.
To commemorate her victory, O’Toole will receive a medal designed and hand-fabricated by Lisa Issenberg, founder of Kiitellä, inc. Kiitellä is a Finnish word meaning “to thank, applaud or praise,” and Issenberg creates awards that are innovative, mixed-media, non-traditional works of art, pieces that celebrate accomplishment, humanity, and philanthropy. Kiitellä is committed to being a responsible steward of our environment, with each step in the process, from design to fabrication to delivery, using minimal energy and material.
Garcia and Mulipola will also receive medals for finishing second and third, respectively, while Bates will receive a plaque for winning the GEICO Defensive MVP award.
Danielle O’Toole on winning the inaugural AUX Softball Champion said: “It’s pretty wild. I came into AUX thinking this was going to be a great tune-up for our Championship season next month in Chicago. I just wanted to get on the field, grind it out and compete. Winning was totally not in my head but I am thrilled that I came out on top after a challenging two weeks of great competition here in San Diego.”
Sis Bates on being voted the GEICO Defensive MVP award: “Defense is so fun for me because I get to play with the people I love. I just try to make defensive plays for my pitchers because I know it fires them up and it serves as a spark plug for our team. Winning this award is pretty awesome”
“Congratulations to Danielle O’Toole on becoming our first-ever Athletes Unlimited AUX Softball Champion, and to Sis Bates for winning the GEICO Defensive MVP award,” said Jon Patricof, CEO and Co-Founder of Athletes Unlimited. “AUX marked an exciting and successful new expansion for Athletes Unlimited that provided additional opportunities for athletes as well as for fan engagement, and we’re looking forward to replicating this model in the future.”
Tickets for the third championship season of Athletes Unlimited Softball, which returns to the Parkway Bank Sports Complex in Rosemont, Ill., from July 29 to August 28, are available now at auprosports.com/tickets. All games will be broadcast live exclusively on ESPN platforms.
About Athletes Unlimited
Athletes Unlimited is a new model of pro sports where athletes are decision-makers and individual players are champions of team sports. Athletes Unlimited literally changes the game with faster play and new team rosters every week, delivering next-level competition and engagement in which every moment counts. The first season of women's softball took place in 2020, with the inaugural seasons of women's indoor volleyball and women’s lacrosse being completed in 2021, along with season two of softball. We completed our inaugural Basketball league, season two of volleyball and inaugural AUX softball competitions in 2022 and are slated to host our second lacrosse and third Championship Softball seasons in late July. For more information, visit AUProSports.com.