Tairia Flowers: Hitting softballs one eye at a time_old

Photo: USA Softball

Tairia Flowers may be the only professional athlete who wears one single contact lens. She might also be the next big slugger for the USA National Team.

Having served ably for Team USA as a super utility player since 2004, Flowers has emerged over the last few weeks as a formidable offensive force to rival the likes of such stalwarts as Jessica Mendoza and Crystl Bustos.

Flowers' ascension on the national team began during the Canada Cup where she took home the tournament MVP with a team-high .650 batting average to go along with 10 RBI and three homeruns. Ironically enough it was about that time she started wearing one single contact lens.

"My left eye is my dominant eye and I see pretty good with it. But my right eye is a little far back," Flowers said. "So I met up with Johnson and Johnson and they sent me some extra contacts to wear. It's been working out."

It certainly has. Flowers has already pounded 11 RBI and two home runs during this year's World Cup of Softball, including a grand slam against the Dominican Republic, and is poised to add another tournament MVP trophy to her recent accolades.

Yet despite her exceptional start the other members of Team USA aren't about to let it go to her head – or let her forget how strange it is she wears one contact lens.

"They keep making fun of me," said a jocular Flowers. "I blink a lot on the field so they give it to me pretty good."

It's been an interesting journey for Flowers, who has gone from UCLA national softball champion to Olympic gold medalist to part-time player on the USA National Team. She admits that in the past it may have been a case of trying to do too much that kept her from reaching her full potential.

"I'm more relaxed. Trying not to press too much. That's something I've done in the past," Flowers points out. "I worked extra hard knowing I'd get this opportunity in the lineup."

Maybe that's all she needed -- an opportunity and a -1.75 contact lens.

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