HOOVER, Ala.  (WIAT) – After bringing home gold from the World Games in softball on Wednesday. the United States’ victory over Japan is still the game people are talking about.

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Former Alabama Outfielder Haylie McCleney was named the 2022 World Games Softball Tournament MVP in addition to the team’s victory.

CBS 42 spoke with McCleney’s father, John, who said watching Team USA pull off the win at the Hoover Met helps to give more recognition for women worldwide. John said this is something his daughter has been working to do outside of playing the game.

“She really wants the girls not only in Alabama but across the country to get the publicity and recognition they deserve,” John said. “It’s a great time to be a female athlete and I think she likes spearheading that platform.”

Following the 3-2 USA victory over Japan, CBS 42 spoke with Haylie about the win.

“It felt like how the Olympics should have felt after not having fans in the stands,” Haylie said.

John said he has been by her side, teaching her to play when he was not coaching another baseball, basketball or football team in Jefferson County.

“It was easier for us to play at parks that were closer to our work than it was to play actually at our house,” John said. “Ironically, Haylie never played organized park ball at Morris Ballpark.” 

The McCleney’s live across from the Morris Ballpark in the City of Morris, a small city about 30 miles north of the Hoover Met. The McCleney guest house behind their main home has been converted into a makeshift museum for Haylie. Her parents have collected pictures and mementos of their daughter through the years.

Now, Haylie’s picture looks over the City of Hoover on a World Games banner – representing women worldwide in sports. John said seeing Team USA take home the gold is the storybook ending that supports her vision.

“I’m excited to see what the next 10-15 years of softball look like, especially in the state of Alabama,” Haylie said after Wednesday’s game.

Haylie was traveling all day Thursday, heading back home to Fort Pierce, FL, so we were unable to speak with her for an interview. It’s been a busy week for her and the softball team, as Haylie turned 28 on Monday along with winning gold.