ORLANDO, FLA -- Most people see barriers as a stopping point.
Francesca Enea isn't most people. Throughout her stellar softball career at Florida (2007-10), the California kid committed herself to rising to the occassion.
It's plausible to think one of the most feared hitters in SEC history would be slowed down by a torn ACL. Not the case. Enea played through the pain, led her team to back-to-back conference titles, and finished her career at the time as the SEC's all-time home run leader. She did it all with a smile.
"I just wanted to have fun," Enea said. "I wanted to compete. I wanted to have fun with my teammates. I just wanted to be the best.”
After graduation, she joined the best. Enea was drafted by the USSSA Pride.
“When I first got drafted to the Pride, the entire Olympic team was also on the team," Enea said.
That included big names like Cat Osterman and current ESPN baseball analyst, Jessica Mendoza.
“I started off with the Pride looking at someone like Jessica Mendoza as my teammate and within a month she became a role model to me.”
“At this point she was just broadcasting the women’s college world series in softball and she told me how much she wanted to break into baseball. Over time she was just someone I leaned on a lot.”
Following her professional career, Enea blazed her own path in the broadcast industry. She started calling softball games for the Atlantic Sun Conference. The next year she joined Brighthouse Sports Network, which eventually became Spectrum Sports, as a color commentator for local high school games.
“That was just out of pure love of calling high school softball in my backyard.”
After a few years she joined ESPN's broadcasts for NCAA Softball Regionals. Just like her former friend and teammate, Francesca got a similar itch.
“I told her I just want to get into baseball.”
Last month, Enea's want turned into reality. She was asked to serve as a color commentator for an American Athletic Conference baseball game between USF and Cincinnati. She had one phone call to make.
“She [Jessican Mendoza] was my first call," Enea said. "They reached out to me and said I can do baseball. Can I? You think I can? She was like Fran, heck yeah!”
On May 1, Enea rose to the occassion once again calling her first college baseball game. USF won 12-3. The real victory was for Enea and women in broadcasting.
“Just being able to broadcast that I did it, that I said yes, that I wasn’t afraid of all of those things might give some other women out there the encouragement they need to take that next step,” Enea said.
Next week, Enea will serve as a telestrations analyst and producer for the SEC tournament in Tuscaloosa. She will also work the Women's College World Series.
Enea has never been one to back away from a challenge. More importantly, she's a player that puts respect for the sports before anything else.
“Any opportunity I get now I believe it’s just the game giving me back everything I gave to it.”
Francesca currently lives in Orlando. She and her husband, Chrisitan, have two young children; daughter Sage and and son Nikola.