Like in every sport in this world, there are good players, great players, and the absolute best of the best. Like basketball has Michael Jordan, soccer has Lionel Messi, softball has its fair share of legends of the game. Softball has been around for a long time and has given birth to a lot of players that have made a great and indelible mark in the sport.

The game’s popularity continues to grow, and its inclement into the 2020 Tokyo Olympics only adds to its growing popularity and interest. Thankfully, young and up-and-coming softball players have many great players to look up to.

Here are the top 5 best softball players of all time.

5 Best Softball Players

Dot Richardson

Born in Orlando, Florida, the two-time Olympic Gold medal winner, Dot Richardson is the greatest softball player of all time. Her illustrious career started way back in 1972 when she was only 10 years old and when she was 13, in 1975, she became the youngest ever softball player in the ASA Women’s Major Fastpitch National Championships. That’s a pretty big deal.

She was awarded the NCAA Player of the Decade for the 1980s, a period in which she played for two teams: Western Illinois and more notably, UCLA Bruins. In 1982 the UCLA Bruins won the NCAA Championship, and you best be sure that Dot Richardson was a huge part of that championship run.

When softball was introduced in the Olympics for the first time in Atlanta, in 1996, Richardson was a fundamental member of the USA team that won gold. She helped the United States national team win a gold medal once again, four years later in Sydney.

After retiring from softball, Dot Richardson spent her time coaching and also became an orthopedic surgeon. Is there anything this woman can’t do?

Lisa Fernandez

Another legend of the game, Lisa Fernandez, is a three-time Olympic gold medal winner with Team USA. She won gold in 1996, 2000, and 2004, when the US team was absolutely unstoppable. Like Dot Richardson, Lisa Fernandez also spent her college days playing for UCLA Browns, where she now works as an assistant coach. With UCLA, she has won 2 national championships. During that time, she has won the award of the best softball player in the country three times!

In the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Lisa Fernandez set the Olympic record for single-game strikeouts, 25. Her career strikeout combines for a total number of 784. Fernandez’s resume speaks for itself, so it’s no surprise she is always considered as one of the game’s all-time greats. An outstanding pitcher, she is named the greatest softball player of all time by the NCAA.

Cat Osterman

One of the greatest pitchers of all time, Cat Osterman, won three Olympic medals with team USA; gold in 2004 and silver in 2008 and 2020. A born Texan, Osterman is somewhat of a legend at the University of Texas. She has won the College World Series three times and has been declared the no.1 college pitcher by the NCAA.

She also holds three NCAA Division I records for perfect games, WHIP, and strikeout ratio. She now works at the Texas State University in San Marcos as an assistant softball coach. All in all, a pretty impressive career.

Jennie Finch

Arguably the most popular softball player of all time, Jennie Finch’s list of accomplishments is nothing short of extraordinary. A two-time Olympic medal winner, gold in 2004 in Athens and silver in 2008 in Beijing, Finch began pitching at the age of just 8. She was at the University of Arizona for three years and did some fantastic things there: three first-team All-American honors, 35 shutout innings in a row, and the all-amazing 51 wins in a row. In 2001, Finch helped the University of Arizona to win a national championship with an amazing record of 32-0 and is widely considered one of the greatest players to play for the Wildcats.

Named the “most famous softball player in history” by TIME, Jennie Finch struck out three players at the 2004 Pepsi All-Star Softball Game: Albert Pujols, Brian Giles, and Mike Piazza, gaining popularity along the way. She is working with Mizuno to create softball cleats, youth fastpitch bats, and other fastpitch equipment.

Jessica Mendoza

A person that did and does so much for the growing popularity of softball, Jessica Mendoza is an Olympic medal winner like all other players on this list. With team USA, where she played an outfielder, she has won gold in 2004, and silver in 2008. During her time spent with team USA, her batting average is .432, a quite extraordinary number.

In college, she has played for Stanford Cardinal and holds a lot of records there. They include the runs scored, home runs, hits, batting average, and slugging percentage. After retiring from the sport, Mendoza became a broadcaster for ESPN and helped tremendously to put softball on the map.