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Windham Wrap-up: Is Haylie McCleney the Best Softball Player in the World?

McCleney has been playing like she's the best on the world's biggest stage against the world's best competitors.

Alabama softball celebrated its 25th anniversary during the 2021 season, and there have been many legendary and decorated players to be a part of the program over the last 25 years. Perhaps there are none better than outfielder Haylie McCleney.

A homegrown talent from Morris, Alabama, McCleney went on to become a four-time all-American in Tuscaloosa. Since graduating from Alabama, she has represented Team USA several times at both the Pan American Games and World Cup of Softball, and now at the Tokyo Olympics. 

It is at the Olympic Games where McCleney has been able to shine on the biggest stage. 

In five games, she is batting .643 and has reached base 14 of 19 plate appearances. She's scored four of the nine runs plated by Team USA in the five wins. The next highest batting average for the U.S. for players with more than two at bats is Ali Aguilar at .250. Amanda Chidester is second on the team with four hits behind McCleney's nine. 

McCleney's spark and consistency on offense are a big part of the reason the Americans are sitting at 5-0 and will be playing in the gold medal game on Tuesday morning at 6 a.m. CT.

In game four against Australia, McCleney led the game off with a triple and then legged out an infield single in the bottom of the eighth. She went on to score the game-winning walk-off run. 

In game five against the host team Japan, the outfielder broke up the no-hitter in the sixth inning with a single to left field. McCleney came around to score to tie the game at 1-1. Team USA would go on to win with a walk-off home run off the bat of former Florida Gator Kelsey Stewart. 

The Olympics bring together the best athletes in the world at each sport, and McCleney's performance this past week has shown that she might just be the best softball player in the world.