During the month of May, we celebrate the history and culture of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have contributed to America’s history and success. During the final week of AAPI month, we honor Lovieanne (Lovie) Jung, a native of Hawaii, who left her mark on the softball world through her outstanding performances both offensively and defensively, which has earned her a myriad of accolades and awards throughout her career. A two-time Olympic medalist, Jung was a multi-faceted player and a force to be reckoned with.
Jung was born in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1980 and moved to Southern California at a young age. Jung’s family was poor, and she and her parents moved in with an aunt in Santa Ana, CA. (Barney, 2021). Jung’s parents, William and Gloria, quickly found jobs and were able to move out of the aunt’s house and buy an apartment for the family (Barney, 2021).
While Jung had her parents as role models, she did not have any softball players to look up to. Softball was not publicized when she was growing up, so her only influences were baseball players. Jung didn’t even begin playing softball until she was around twelve or thirteen years old, as she mainly played pick-up baseball (Leland, 2015). Despite her late start to the sport, Jung was a natural athlete and soon became one of the most sought-out high-school softball players in the country.
After she graduated from Fountain Valley High School in 1998, Jung began her collegiate career at Fresno State University in 1999. She made an outstanding debut her freshman year, with a stellar performance at second base and a batting average of .330. During her sophomore year, she led the team with a .391 batting average and a team-best .512 slugging percentage in 2000 (University of Arizona Website, 2013). She earned third-team All-America honors as a second baseman, and finished her career at Fresno State with a batting average of .359, 7 home runs, 84 RBI (Runs Batted In) and 158 hits (University of Arizona Website, 2013). Along with her impressive batting statistics, Jung stole seven bases in seven attempts, and she started 141 of 142 games. She was named to the All-College World Series team after hitting .500 in Oklahoma City (University of Arizona Website, 2013) and was named All-American at second base (1999-2000) (Luis, 2004).
After a phenomenal two seasons at Fresno State, Jung made the transition to play at the University of Arizona in 2002 where she appeared in two College World Series. Not only did she transition schools, but she transitioned positions, as she made her debut at Arizona as shortstop. Because of her outstanding defensive ability, Jung started all 67 games at shortstop. Offensively, Jung was arguably the most powerful leadoff hitter in the university’s history. She led the team in batting average (.364), runs (64), hits (75), extra-base hits (31) and walks (44), with 16 home runs and 40 RBI (University of Arizona Website, 2013). She had 23 multiple-hit games, and tied for a team-best 10-game hitting streak in 2002. Jung was named first-team All-Pac-10 (All Pacific Region) and Pac-10 Newcomer of the Year, and was named a finalist for the USA National Softball Training Team. (University of Arizona Website, 2013). Despite her transition to the other side of the field, Jung was named an All-American as shortstop (2002-03) (Luis, 2004).
Jung continued to dominate after her collegiate career. In 2003, she was a gold medalist at the Pan American Games where she hit .455 with a team-high of 10 hits and three home runs. In 2004, she was a gold medalist at the Olympics in Athens, Greece where she hit .300 (6-20). In 2005, she was a gold medalist at the Pan American Qualifier (teamusa.org). In 2006, Jung was a gold medalist at the ISF (International Softball Federation) World Championship. Once again, she hit .300 (6-for-20) with one RBI and two runs scored at Worlds. At the World Cup, she led the team with a .615 (8-for-13) batting average. Then in 2007, she was a gold medalist at the Pan American Games and a World Cup Champion. To end her career, Jung earned a silver medal at the Olympic Games in Beijing, China in 2008 (teamusa.org).
Even after her retirement from softball, Jung continues to inspire on and off the field. Jung has coached at various softball camps and speaks at different events to advocate for women’s softball. Even more impressively, Jung became a firefighter for the Riverside Fire Department in 2009 (Eads, 2020). She has selflessly worked on the frontlines during the coronavirus while supporting her daughter Gabriella. Jung’s perseverance and determination is an inspiration to all, and her legacy will continue to pursue.