All Access: McCarville's First Pitch

Kyle Ratke
Web Editorial Associate

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For better or worse, it doesn't appear as if Janel McCarville will be joining the Twins starting rotation. That doesn’t mean she won’t give it a try.

The Twins invited the Lynx’s new center to throw out the game's first pitch on Tuesday evening against the Chicago White Sox. Wearing a Twins snapback hat and a Lynx shirt, McCarville was all smiles and it was obvious she was enjoying her return to Minneapolis.

Yet under that smile, there’s no question she felt some nerves on her walk over to Target Field from Target Center.

"I threw a few times yesterday, but I really hope I don't roll it there or anything, I think I might pitch a curveball," McCarville said laughing before the pitch.

"I also hope the fans are supportive and don't boo me or anything.”

Jokes aside, McCarville performed admirably. There were no boos, as she ran out to a standing ovation and pitched what would have been a strike to a batter Kevin Love's height.

She had a little experience on her side.

It wasn't the first time McCarville threw out the first pitch for the Twins. Back on April 7, 2004, McCarville and the rest of her Gophers women’s basketball teammates, fresh off their memorable Final Four run, threw out the first pitch before a game against the Cleveland Indians.

While she's not a hometown girl (McCarville was born in Stevens Point, Wis.), McCarville would be the first to tell you Minnesota is a place where she grew up.

The last time McCarville represented a Minnesota team on the basketball court, the Twins were still playing indoors at the Metrodome. Now it seems both the Twins and McCarville are where they belong. The Twins are playing outside, while McCarville is back in Minnesota—a place she's missed.

"I couldn't agree with that statement more," McCarville said with a grin. "I belong here."

Minnesota fans last remember McCarville for the magic her and Lynx guard Lindsay Whalen brought to the Gophers women's basketball team as teammates in 2004 when the team advanced all the way to the Final Four.

After her four years of college, she sits in the all-time top-five in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks in school history.

Now McCarville and Whalen are back playing together and hope they can capture some of the magic from the Maroon and Gold days and raise another banner in the Target Center.

"That's ultimately the goal, and I think we can do it," McCarville said. "There's lots of big things to come. I'm joining a great team and will do whatever is needed."

McCarville was traded to the Lynx from the New York Liberty on March 1 in a three-team trade which sent former Lynx guard Candice Wiggins to the Tulsa Shock. Previous to the trade, McCarville was drafted first overall in 2005 by the Charlotte Sting and was named the WNBA's Most Improved Player in 2007. She’s spent the past two years playing overseas.

In her WNBA career, McCarville has averaged 9.7 points to go along with 4.7 rebounds. Her best season came in 2008 with the New York Liberty, as she put up 13.7 points and 5.4 rebounds per contest.

After two seasons away from the WNBA, it's a move that has a great chance of benefitting both sides. The Lynx have plenty of scorers, but after the retirement of center Taj McWilliams-Franklin, the Lynx could use another rebounder inside.

"I'm just going to try to get in and rebound and mix it up," McCarville said. "We have great guards. I'm just going to play good defense and get it to the shooters."

On Tuesday, McCarville participated in all drills after dealing with minor injuries early in camp. Slowly, McCarville has turned the corner and it appears she's getting more comfortable with all teammates without the last name Whalen. It isn't 2004 anymore, but coach Cheryl Reeve believes something special could happen nine years later.

"Those were some really special days for her and the Gopher program," Reeve said. "I think now for Janel to rekindle those feelings is important. It's a different team. It's a difference time, but hopefully the success is the same."

The Lynx will get a glimpse of what McCarville brings the team during its first preseason game at 7 p.m. on Saturday against the Washington Mystics. The game will be played at the Bismarck Civic Center in Bismarck, N.D.

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