Softball Reflections with Ryan Iamurri, a Women’s College World Series Champion

With the initials R.B.I, it seemed like Ryan Iamurri was destined from the start to spend her days at the softball field.  

For many, the Little League® journey starts at an already young age, when their parents sign them up to play in the Tee Ball division. For Ms. Iamurri, her journey started when she was born into a Little League family, which meant her time at the Naples (Fla.) Little League fields began before she could speak, let alone throw a ball or swing a bat.  

“I have been around it forever,” said Ms. Iamurri. “I was born in 1992, and the softball teams that my dad coached won consecutive championships the first five years of my life. I remember going to all of the opening ceremonies and sitting on my dad’s shoulders walking through the parade – there are a lot of great memories and photos from those early days.”  

Robert Iamurri, Ms. Iamurri’s father, has coached Little League since he was 18 years old, taking his first team to the Little League Softball® World Series (LLSWS) in 1980. Since that time, he has made 23 appearances at the LLSWS and has won 14 of those appearances, taking multiple championship banners home to Florida.  

“Competing in a Little League World Series tournament has been something I have wanted to be a part of since I was that little girl and being able to finally experience that was exciting because it was finally my turn,” said Ms. Iamurri.  

In 2003, Ms. Iamurri and her Naples LL teammates made the trip west to Portland, Oregon, to represent the South Region in the LLSWS. After going undefeated to win their pool, Naples LL lost to Midway LL from Waco, Texas, in the championship game. Though at the time she was devastated, Ms. Iamurri now looks back on it with a positive perspective, remembering the friendships she made with both the Japan Region players and with the girls from the Oregon District 4 host team. 

Three years after losing in the championship game of the 2003 series, Ms. Iamurri would again find herself competing and winning the South Region tournament, this time punching her ticket to the Junior League Softball World Series in Kirkland, Washington.

After going undefeated in pool play, Ms. Iamurri’s team faced off against the Asia-Pacific Region team, represented by girls from Bacolod City, Philippines in the championship game. Yet again, Ms. Iamurri and her teammates were just innings away from a championship banner of their own, and this time they came our victorious, winning 8-0.

Winning the championship alongside Ms. Iamurri was friend and future fellow teammate at the University of Alabama, Jackie Traina, who also competed in the 2003 LLSWS. The two stepped onto the field together for the first time when they were just five years old, not aware of the future accomplishments and memorable moments they would experience together.  

“That was a very cool experience to have with her,” said Ms. Iamurri. “When you play with someone or a group of people for that long, it’s all about reliability. You know what you’re going to get, you know each other’s needs, and there is this unspoken language and trust in each other both on and off the field.” 

The dynamic duo’s journey together continued at the high school level, playing on the same varsity and travel teams. It was in the first year of high school that Ms. Iamurri decided she wanted to continue to play softball at the collegiate level.  

“At that point, the University of Alabama was very interested in Jackie. So, when we were in the area for a tournament, they asked my Dad, who was coaching us at the time, to bring her to the campus for an unofficial tour,” said Ms. Iamurri. “So, the three of us go, and they had the entire team at the time show us around campus and take us down to the field and we played kickball under the lights. They really took the time to show us their family culture and what their team was all about and I was sold. It wasn’t even my visit, and I ended the day telling them I would basically do anything to play there.”  

In the weeks that followed, reps from the university would travel to watch Ms. Traina play. Feeling like it was a long shot that she would be recruited, Ms. Iamurri never felt the pressure of their presence and, instead, played like it was any other day on the softball field.  

“I played so well in front of them every time they were there because I just wasn’t nervous. It was great,” said Ms. Iamurri. “After Jackie committed, I went about my day-to-day, but then a couple weeks later, the roster shifted around, and a spot opened. Because how I played during their visits, the coaches called me and asked me if I wanted to fill the spot. It was the easiest yes of my life.”  

Wearing their iconic crimson red uniforms, Ms. Iamurri and Ms. Traina again found themselves on the same roster. To put a cherry on top of the already sweet situation, in their sophomore year of college, just six years after competing and winning the Junior League Softball World Series, Ms. Iamurri and Ms. Traina traveled to Oklahoma City for the Women’s College World Series in 2012.  

Alabama fought their way to the championship after beating the University of Tennessee, Arizona State University, and the University of California. In the last game of the three-game championship series, the University of Oklahoma and Alabama squared off in the rubber match to determine who would take home the championship title. After trailing by three runs in the first three innings, Alabama came back, scoring four runs in the bottom of the fourth and another in the fifth to take the lead and hold back a seventh-inning rally to seal a 5-4 victory. In her third trip to a World Series, Ms. Iamurri again found herself at the top.  

Ms. Iamurri and the University of Alabama softball team after winning the 2012 Women’s College World Series 

“The World Series for me went from being an intense experience getting through the Super Regionals to this feeling of relief knowing that we were going. Then, once we got there, it was all about chipping away one game at a time,” said Ms. Iamurri. “Being there was so fun. We didn’t want to blink so we could take it all in and have the experience both on and off the field. It was the highlight of my career for sure.”  

Two years later, Ms. Iamurri graduated, but she would not be gone for long. After a few years of moving around to different states, Ms. Iamurri moved back to her hometown in Florida, where she landed a teaching job. She was just finishing up her second year as a teacher when she received a call from Alabama’s head softball coach, Patrick Murphy.  

“Coach Murphy called me, and you could hear a softball game going on in the background. We had some small talk about how we were both doing and then he just asked if I wanted to come back,” said Ms. Iamurri. “He said their volunteer position was opening up the following year and he wanted me to fill it.”  

Though she says she could have accepted the position in that moment, Coach Murphy insisted Ms. Iamurri take the time to think about it.  

“I had finally just moved back home, and I think my parents were happy to finally have me back, but there was something in me that just knew how cool my life would be if I took the position. The thought of getting to be on a softball field at two o’clock in the afternoon with the sun shining and the breeze going was very appealing. So, I didn’t have to think about it for too long before I said yes.”  

After two years as a volunteer assistant coach, Alabama allowed the softball program to add another full-time position – Coordinator of Player Development – which Ms. Iamurri gladly accepted.   

“My heart and my passion is around the connection that we get to have with the players. When the Coordinator of Player Development position was created, and I accepted it, I got to shape it into what I wanted it to be. I first thought of who was the person that I would have needed for support when I was a player and tried to be that for them. I’m like a bridge between the coaches and the decisions they make and the players and their reactions to those decisions. I love it so far and I feel like I am exactly where I am meant to be.” 

In 2024, Ms. Iamurri returns to Oklahoma for the Women’s College World Series, but this time she will be watching from the dugout. Ms. Iamurri will be joined at this year’s tournament by more than 25 Little League graduates who will take to the field and compete for the national title.

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NOTE: This Little League feature is a piece of the #GWG50 Celebration in 2024, with interviews of Girls with Game who graduated from Little League programs and continued to make an impact on female sports throughout their careers. To learn more about this initiative, visit The #GWG50 celebration is proudly supported by DICK’S Sporting Goods, a long-time Little League partner that is committed to creating opportunities for girls and women in sports and will be activating around key events and milestones this year.