By Bob Behre

Few successful athletes have done more with a difficult start than U.S. softball legend Crystl Bustos. 

Bustos, known so well now for her dynamic and highly interpersonal approach to softball instruction, was once known as the greatest sluggers in women’s softball. Bustos added a new title to her softball resume on Oct. 27 when she was inducted into the National Softball Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City.

Bustos was joined by fellow two-time Olympic champion Christa Williams Yates among the eight honorees. Bustos won Olympic gold medals as the star slugger of the 2000 and 2004 U.S. Olympic teams and the silver medal with the 2008 Olympic squad. Bustos was Team USA’s most dominant hitter over a national team career that spanned 1999-2008.

Bustos is one of the lead instructors at the Jennie Finch Extravaganza on Dec. 1 and 2 at Next Level Arena in Flemington, N.J. The two, one-day camps are sponsored by Diamond Nation and the Finch’s Aces Softball program.

Bustos was also a star on the U.S. World Champion team in 2006, the two U.S. World Cup championship teams in ’06 and ’07 and is a winner of three Pan-American gold medal teams (’99, ’03 & ’07). She was Jennie Finch’s teammate on the 2004 Olympic gold medal team and the ’08 silver medal squad.

Bustos, a third baseman and designated hitter, had earlier been inducted in the National Hall of Fame as a member of that dominant 2004 Olympic softball team that won the gold medal in Athens, Greece.

Bustos difficult upbringing in Canyon Country, California left her little options among the elite softball programs in the country, but an incredible performance at Palm Beach Community College in Florida turned the heads at the U.S. National Team headquarters quickly in her direction.

“What’s really sad is, and this is how badly educated I was at the time, I didn’t even know where Florida was,” Bustos told the New York Times in 2008 after being named the USA Softball Player of the Year.

Busto still holds the Olympic record for RBI (10) and home runs (6) in an Olympic series. She also seems to have won wherever she’s played. Her Orlando Wahoos team won the 1998 Women’s Professional Softball League championship. Then her 2005 Akron Racers won the National Pro Fastpitch league title.

Softball was contested in four Olympic Games from 1996 to 2008. Japan upset Bustos and the favored U.S. team in the gold-medal game in 2008. After a ridiculous 12-year IOC-imposed hiatus, softball will finally return to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

In addition to Bustos and Williams Yates, the other inductees were Dick Brubaker (Fast Pitch Player), John Daniels (Sponsor), Ricky Huggins (Slow Pitch Player), Todd Joerling (Slow Pitch Player), Bill Silves (Umpire) and Charles Wright (Slow Pitch Player).