RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — It all began for James Madison ace Odicci Alexander in the backyard of her grandfather, Washington Alexander’s house.

Washington, who raised Odicci, built a well house for her to pitch against.

“This is how Odicci got started. She did this seven days a week, honestly, she really did,” Washington said. “When school got out, she came here in the evening and practiced all day long, she was very determined. We would have to make her come in the house, ‘Girl, it’s getting dark, you don’t need to be out there throwing that ball,’ but she really did because we had a light and she’d go by the light.”

Washington didn’t get to travel to Oklahoma City for James Madison’s first-ever Women’s College World Series trip, but he was there in spirit.

“(We) are very close,” Washington said. “She would talk to me a lot and say, ‘Pop, this is for you,’ because she knew I couldn’t be there and everything she did because ‘Pop, it’s for you.'”

Alexander got a standing ovation when she left the circle for the last time against Oklahoma.

“Well, I was kind of in tears myself because I knew ‘CiCi, you need to get out of there’, but I think everybody was in tears because she tried so hard and it didn’t work out for her, that’s why she broke down,” Washington said.

But now there are lots of little girls in backyards trying to be the next Odicci Alexander.

“‘If Odicci can do it, then I can do it too.’ It makes them believe in themselves that I can do anything,” Washington said.