A total of 65 of the nation’s top fastpitch players are preparing for a four day tryout that will help name the 2018 USA Women’s National Team. Eleven USSSA Pride players were invited to the 2018 tryouts, a franchise record.
The Pride are coming off a National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) Regular Season Championship where they won more games than any Pride team in history. Seven players were named to the All NPF Team including three-time NPF Player of the Year Kelly Kretschman.
“I couldn’t be more proud to have 11 of our Pride players invited to this year's USA tryouts,” Megan Willis, former NPF player and current Assistant General Manager for the Pride said[LS1] . “It truly shows just how talented our team is; I know Team USA has been scrutinized in the past for not inviting as many athletes to tryout, but now they have the funding and ability to invite many more athletes and put the ball in the athlete's court to show up and show out!”
Softball was reinstated to the Olympic Games for 2020 after being removed from the Olympic Agenda following the 2008 Games. The games will be played in an exhibition style, presenting medals to those countries that place.
Representing Team USA is a big deal. It’s something many current softball players aspire to do during their softball careers. "It truly is an honor to be invited to the USA team tryouts” USSSA Pride player, Megan Wiggins said. “It has been a dream of mine to play for Team USA in the Olympics since I was a child. I would love the opportunity to represent my country in the 2020 Olympics.”
Veteran Kelly Kretschman has two Olympic medals to her credit including a 2004 gold medal. Following the 2008 Olympics, Kretschman focused her playing career on the NPF and chose to retire from Team USA. However, after three MVP seasons in a row and perhaps the greatest season of her career, Kretschman is excited for another opportunity to represent Team USA.
“It's an honor to once again be invited back to the USA tryouts.” Kretschman said. “Playing in the Olympics was one of the best experiences of my life and to have the opportunity to possibly wear ‘USA’ across my chest again is something I never thought would happen. Once again, the dream of being an Olympian is alive and I can't wait for the opportunity to be a part of the process in bringing back another Gold Medal for Team USA. I am excited for the future of our sport with the NPF and USA working as one.”
The tryout will be held from December 31- January 4 in Clearwater, Florida, at the Eddie C. Moore Softball Complex. At the conclusion of the tryouts, 15 athletes will make the 2018 roster while two additional alternates will travel with the team as well. Team USA will play in the Japan All Star Series from June 18-25; the World Cup in Irvine, California July 7-15th; and the Canada Cup in British Columbia, Canada from July 19-26. The national schedule concludes with the Japan Cup in November, 2018.
Willis acknowledged there’s a possibility all nine Pride players could accept their tryout invitation if they successfully make the team. “Hypothetically, if the 8 athletes who accepted their invites make the National Team, it will make my job much harder. Willis said. “We will need to focus on building a team for when they leave and creating an understanding amongst all Pride athletes on how we play cohesively when they all come back. Great news is, we (the Pride) have done this before: the 2009 and 2010 teams maneuvered this situation pretty seamlessly [the 2010 team won the Cowles Cup Championship] and plan to do the same in these next couple of years leading up to the 2020 Olympics. At the end of the day, the goal is to bring back the Gold medal to USA!”
The 2018 NPF season may bring new challenges to a Pride squad that has finished the last three seasons as regular season Champions. However, with softball back in the Olympics and the opportunity to represent Team USA a reality again, those are welcomed challenges.
About USSSA Florida Pride:
The USSSA Florida Pride is a professional franchise in the National Pro Fastpitch League that is owned and operated by USSSA. The amateur organization of USSSA has multi-sport coverage and encompasses teams and players from the United States and abroad.
National Pro Fastpitch is headquartered in Nashville, TN. The league, created to give elite female fastpitch players the opportunity to pursue a professional career in their chosen sport, has operated since 1997 under the names of Women’s Pro Fastpitch (WPF) and Women’s Pro Softball League (WPSL). NPF is the Official Development Partner of Major League Baseball in the category of women’s fastpitch softball since 2002.
USSSA is headquartered in Brevard County, Florida. USSSA is the World’s Largest Multi-sport Athletic Organization. Founded in 1968, USSSA has grown to over 3.7 million participants, competing in 13 nationally sanctioned sports including Baseball, Fastpitch, Slow Pitch, Karate, Basketball, Soccer and more! For more information on USSSA and to register your team visit USSSA.com