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Jessica Mullins delivers the pitch for the Texas Smoke in the season opener. Mullins, while excited to continue her softball at the professional level, looks to grow the game of softball.
Submitted photo by Peter Vives

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Mullins is one of two former Texas State softball players playing in the WPF. The other is Sara Vanderford who plays for the Texas Monarchs.
Submitted photo by Peter Vives

Mullins looks to grow softball at pro level

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Considered to be one of the greatest pitchers to play for the Texas State softball program, pitcher Jessica Mullins is on to the next chapter of her career, playing for the defending Women’s Professional Fastpitch league champions the Texas Smoke.

“It means everything,” Mullins said. “From being able to continue on like a family with a new group of sisters to being able to do what I love. It means everything to me.”

After leading Texas State to both a Sun Belt Tournament Conference Championship and a NCAA Tournament appearance, Mullins was weighing her options after her collegiate career when she received a call from a member of the Smoke pitching staff.

“Samantha Show had reached out to me,” Mullins said. “She asked if I wanted to play. I considered and weighed out my options [before] I made my choice.”

Mullins joined Smoke, which was coming off a 2023 championship season in the first year of the WPF.

Transitioning from the collegiate level to the professional level, Mullins found a level of comfort playing for the Smoke.

“I feel a little bit more comfortable,” Mullins said. “I know my offense is going to do their best to help me out. It’s a different world. A lot of us are here, because we love the game. We have fun with it every single day. Even at practices we still have fun.”

The Smoke are considered the favorites to take the league title home once more behind a powerful offense.

For Mullins, her rookie season for the Smoke has been very similar to her freshman year with the Bobcats back in 2021.

“They are all phenomenal players,” Mullins said. “It was honestly a pretty smooth transition. It felt like I was a freshman all over again trying to find my way. But overall it has been really smooth and easy because everyone is so welcoming.”

One of the factors in Mullins success with the Smoke has been playing back in Bobcat Softball Stadium.

With the Smoke moving to San Marcos for the 2024 season, Mullins finds herself back where she started from.

“It’s a familiar environment,” Mullins said. “It brings a sort of peace and I feel like I’m home. There is not more I can ask for.”

In fact, the start of the season was a unique one for Mullins.

The Smoke opened up the season against the Texas Monarchs where Mullins was opposite or longtime Bobcat teammate Sara Vanderford.

With the two Bobcat players playing against each other with their teammates and Head Coach Ricci Woodard cheering them both in the stands at Bobcat Softball Stadium, it created a unique environment for Mullins.

“It was amazing to play against them at one point,” Mullins said. “It was weird, which is the best way to describe it.”

But despite Mullins being able to continue her softball career past the collegiate level, the Bobcat softball legend has an important goal in mind.

“It’s more about growing the sport in general,” Mullins said. “That is the biggest thing is making sure we continue to grow the sport in general and give us enough recognition that we deserve.”

With the rise of the professional women’s sports league such as the Women’s National Basketball Association and the National Women’s Soccer League, softball has been able to get a professional league off the ground with the disbandment of the National Pro Fastpitch league in 2021.

With the WPF trying to move forward along with the WNBA and NWSL, Mullins believes softball can be the one that puts a spotlight on women’s sports.

“Women’s sports in general don’t get enough recognition,” Mullins said. “It can all start with softball. Softball has been building up from previous years, and I feel like we can make it happen. Just give us enough recognition that we can get equal pay as men.”

cmcwilliams Twitter: @ColtonBMc

San Marcos Record

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