Why She’s Interesting: As an outfielder for the Akron Racers, Andrews is known for her acrobatic, gravity-defying catches. In 2016, Andrews became the first woman to ever earn the prestigious Rawlings Gold Glove Award. Last summer, she was the first professional softball player to ever be featured solo in ESPN The Magazine’s Body Issue.
Name Game: A.J. is short for Ayanna Jeanene, which means beautiful flower. “Personally, I love my name — but a lot of people found Ayanna hard to say. So, when I started playing sports, I told people they could call me A.J. The name just kind of stuck.”
Gender Gap: Andrews never thought of professional softball as a career. It wasn’t until her senior year of college that her coach suggested she give it a try. But professional softball salaries are nowhere near those of Major League Baseball players, which infuriates her. “Baseball players don’t have to think about these sorts of financial decisions. If a team wants them, their life is set.”
Golden Girl: When she was announced the winner of the Gold Glove Award in 2016, Andrews needed a teammate to help her out of her chair. “I was so shocked. But at the same time, I was aware enough to know that history had just been made. And the fact that I was the person who was able to kind of rip down one of those barriers is still nothing short of amazing to me.”
Model Behavior: Though Andrews was excited to be profiled in ESPN The Magazine’s Body Issue, her Christian parents were hesitant at the thought of their daughter posing nude for the magazine. “My dad is a judge. My whole life, if there was something I wanted to do, I had to have an argument prepared.”
Presenting Her Case: Andrews and her parents communicated about the project via phone and email. “My dad sent me a PowerPoint of pros and cons for doing the shoots and I sent him a PowerPoint back showing him all the famous athletes who had been in the magazine and how tastefully it would be done.”
Olympic Bound: After a 12-year hiatus, softball returns to the Olympics in 2020. Andrews, who had hip surgery in August, intends to be there. “I will be heading to Clearwater, [Florida], Dec. 31 for tryouts. After that, it’s in God’s hands.”
Interesting Fact: .348: Andrews’ 2017 season batting average — the third highest in the National Pro Fastpitch league.