After a long 12 years, softball will finally make a reappearance in July of the 2020 Olympics. Many have been waiting on this year since the 2008 games in Beijing, and, due to this sport being tremendously popular in Japan, it is predicted to be one of the largest Olympic game attractions held in Fukushima and Yokohama.
In the previous four Olympic Games appearances, the USA Softball Women’s National Team claimed three gold medals in 1996, 2000 and 2004. They fell short with one runner-up finish to Japan in 2008 while raising the bar high and setting numerous international records for women’s sports.
While trying to secure their spot into the Olympic games, athletes chosen for the selection trials participated in a multitude of drills and practice games and evaluated by a selection committee panel.
While the process of selecting these future Olympians was not easy, head coach Ken Eriksen, said, “All 29 players that accepted an invitation to these trials displayed class and dignity along with an incredible passion to represent the United States on the field.”
Eriksen is excited to lead 15 players and three replacements into the Olympics by teaching them how to be at their best both on and off the field.
Team USA will compete against No. 2 Japan, No. 3 Canada, No. 5 Mexico, No. 7 Australia and No. 9 Italy. Though Japan lost to team USA 7-6, the host country has an automatic spot in the games. These six countries will compete for the Gold Medal while also making history as the first team to win in the softball Olympic games since it was discontinued in 2008.
“This has been an incredible process that has taken years of evaluation about great people that play softball at the highest level,” Eriksen said. “It should be extremely exhilarating for the most knowledgeable in the softball community to understand what it takes to form a team that includes experience and ability.”
The 2020 USA Softball Women’s National Team roster for the upcoming Olympic games includes two previous Olympians, Cat Osterman and Monica Abbott, 12 women who competed on the 2018 World Championship team and 13 members of the 2019 Pan American Games Gold Medal team.
Team USA is also comprised of former and current student-athletes from four athletic conferences: Big Ten (two players), Big 12 (two players), SEC (five players) and Pac-12 (five players), who represent 13 different NCAA Division I universities. Five athletes have taken home the Women’s College World Series (WCWS) title through their university, while four have been recognized as the USA Softball Player of the Year at least once during their career.
USA Softball Executive Director Craig Cress said, “For softball and baseball to be added to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games program is a dream come true for many athletes across the world. USA Softball is proud to be the National Governing Body for the sport of softball and will continue to work diligently every day to promote our great sport of softball on the world stage.”