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Gold medalist Franklin sinks in first pitch

Gold medalist Franklin sinks in first pitch

Gold medalist Franklin sinks in first pitch
DENVER -- The scouting report on Saturday night's ceremonial first pitch participant: Throws like a girl, swims like a fish.

"If I can make it to the catcher, I will be happy," four-time Olympic gold medalist Missy Franklin said before the game.

Coloradans didn't care what Franklin threw like, but they reveled in the 17-year-old Aurora resident's performances in the London Olympics this summer, winning five medals overall while setting world records for 200-meter backstroke and the 4x100 medley relay.

But for the affable Franklin, throwing out the first pitch in front of thousands of Rockies fans had her feeling like a fish out of water.

"I'm so out of my element," she said before her big moment. "I just don't want to make a total fool of myself."

To help her prepare and take the edge off, Rockies reliever Matt Belisle made a trip to Regis Jesuit High School to help the senior Olympian practice her throw.

"We had an awesome time," she said of her one-on-one with Belisle at her school. "It was pouring rain outside, so we went in the gym. He taught me some tricks. Just basic, basic throwing skills.

"Softball is one of the only sports I haven't done. I'm so psyched. I've been looking forward to it ever since Matt came. I felt better once I practiced. Before I was really nervous, but now that I realize I can actually throw a ball, I think I'm more excited."

Belisle's coaching paid off, as Franklin shook him off once Saturday night then floated a pitch to the inside corner of the plate to the thunderous applause of the Coors Field faithful who deemed it a strike.

Franklin has lived in Colorado since before she could swim, and said she loves all Colorado teams. Her post Olympic tour took her to the Broncos season opener, where she made the ceremonial coin flip.

"It's been so amazing -- it's such an honor to go to all these incredible sporting events," Franklin said. "It's so awesome to meet all these other incredible athletes, because they're an inspiration to so many people. I'm really excited."

Between goodwill events and appearances to celebrate her summer success, Franklin has been settling into the school year, visiting colleges, and figuring out how to balance her new fame with her final year of high school.

"I was able to go to my first [Regis] football game last night," Franklin said. "It was really, really fun. I've definitely been able to do some things that are just for me."

She said she'll be making three more college trips in October before trying to make a decision in November.

"I think it's a new normal," she said of her post-Olympic pace. "I don't think my life will ever go back to the way it was before the Olympics. But I think it's adjusting to the new normal, that's my life now, which has been a blast."

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