The wages Mary Hagen has saved from working long hours as a waitress and office assistant at Payson’s Organic Cafe are not enough to fulfill her dream of a lifetime.
Her aspiration centers on traveling Aug. 1 to Tuscany, Italy to participate on the American Prospects fast-pitch softball team that will play in a series of tournaments against national and club teams from around the world.
To make the trip, Hagen must earn $3,800 to pay her expenses. To date she has accumulated $2,000, most of which has come from her work and local sponsorships.
With the July 1 deadline to pay in full rapidly approaching, Hagen is concerned she might not have the money to make the trip.
So, she is asking for even more sponsorships from friends, family and those who have watched her star on the Lady Longhorn softball team for the past four years.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for me,” said Hagen. “I will have the rare opportunity to compete on the international level and see many famous sights in Italy.”
Donations to help Hagen complete her fund-raising and make the trip abroad can be made at Payson Compass Bank or by calling her at (928) 951-4835.
Donation forms are available at the Payson Roundup, 708 N. Beeline Highway.
Good will ambassador
Those who know Hagen best, including PHS assistant softball coach Kadi Tenney, says the teenager will be a top-notch representative of the Rim Country during the 10-day trip abroad.
She is the newest member of the team and the only Arizona softball player invited to make the journey that is as much a cultural education as it is softball competition.
Players on the American Prospects traveling team come from around the United States and Canada and were chosen on their athletic ability and recommendations from coaches and scouts.
As a member of the Prospects team, Hagen expects to pitch — as she did the last four years for the Lady Longhorns — and perhaps contribute offensively.
“I like to hit too,” she said.
While in Italy, Prospects officials say the team will play five to seven games against “a high level of international competition in an Olympic-style setting.”
When not playing, Italian tour guides will lead the players as they explore the country and get to know the people and the culture.
American Prospects has been sending teams in eight sports to 20 countries worldwide since 1996.
Although rare, some players have opted to stay in Europe to play professionally.
PHS player heads to California
That, however, is not an option for Hagen who will return to the United States to attend Patten University near Oakland, Calif.
There, she will become a scholarship athlete on the school’s softball team.
Academically, she expects to major in kinesiology with hopes of becoming a physical therapist or perhaps enrolling in medical school.
At Payson High School, Hagen — a 2010 graduate — excelled academically and was the Lady Longhorns’ ace pitcher for the past three seasons.
At the conclusion of her senior year, she was named All-East Region first team and chosen to play in the Arizona Coaches Association North vs. South All-Star game.
Last season she compiled a 3.72 ERA that included 130 strikeouts and 56 walks in 154 innings. During the campaign, she threw two shutouts and four one-run games.
As a student-athlete she also developed a solid reputation for being extremely coachable and for her integrity and high level of character.