Viera, Florida, January 10, 2018: Four USSSA Pride players were selected to be a part of Team USA this summer! Please join us in congratulating Kirsti Merritt, Kelly Kretschman, Keilani Rickets and Mo Mercado on being selected for Team USA.
Megan Willis, USSSA Assistant General Manager said 'I couldn’t be more happy for Kelly, Keilani, Kirsti, and Mo! I know this was a dream for them, to wear those letters across their chest either again or for the very first time. Listening to Kelly talk about her past Olympic experiences, you know this has been her ultimate goal and if she ever got the chance to do it all over again, she would! So I support her, just as I do her teammates.” Willis continued, “It’s my hope that eventually the NPF season will expand to 4-5 months as well as the International Softball season. Our sport is growing so fast and we deserve more than just 3 months to pack it all in.”
Last week, USA softball hosted a week long tryout in Clearwater, FL that was unfortunately shortened due to weather. Athletes from all over the country were invited to participate in the tryout where they were selected based upon their performance during skill work and scrimmages. There were two separate rosters selected from the pool of athletes, a Japan All Star Series Roster and the World Championship Roster.
We caught up with Chris Sebren, USA Director of National Teams to see what all of this means. He said, “We are excited about the two rosters we have competing this summer to represent USA Softball and feel confident as we head into this very important year in International competition. Both rosters represent a mixture of veteran and rookie USA Softball athletes as well as athletes who have competed before and have the opportunity wear the red, white and blue again. With the amount of talent we have in the US, we wanted to give our athletes every opportunity to showcase their skills internationally as we move forward to 2020.”
Both rosters will meet up in June for a training camp where the athletes will train as a team for the first time. The Japan All Star Series roster, which includes Mo Mercado and Kelly Kretschman, will participate in the Japan All Star Series June 18-25 and the World Cup of Softball in July 7-16. The World Championship roster, which includes Keilani Ricketts and Kirsti Merritt, will also compete in the World Cup of Softball from June 18-25 and the World Championships from July 26-August 13. The roster for the Japan Cup (October 26-November 5) will be named later this year from the 34 total athletes in the pool.
Keilani Ricketts, a Pride veteran pitcher said, “It's very exciting to be a part of the process of what Team USA is trying to build and to be able to represent both USSSA Pride and the NPF along the way because I wouldn't be the player I am without my teammates and competition the past few years with the Pride”.
Mo Mercado, the youngest of the Pride players to be selected, said “the opportunity to represent team USA is a goal that I’ve had since I picked up a bat for the first time. This opportunity itself is one of the most humbling experiences I’ve ever had. Being able to wear USA and represent this team is more than incredible, it is a huge, huge honor”.
Last year, the Olympic committee reinstated fastpitch softball into the 2020 Olympic Games to be held in Tokyo, Japan after what will be a 12 year hiatus. USA softball traditionally has dominated international play having won three Olympic Gold Medals before finishing second to Japan in the 2008 Games.
Kelly Kretschman, one of the most
decorated veterans in the sport was a part of the 2000 Olympics as an alternate and on the roster for the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games,. “I never thought I would have this opportunity again. I am extremely grateful to have been selected to one of the two national teams once again. There is nothing like wearing USA across your chest”, Kelly said.
Fastpitch softball has generated a lot of fan interest since the last Olympics. The Women’s College World Series has out-rated baseball’s College World Series on ESPN the last couple years and the sport has internationally at all levels through the efforts of many. We are excited to watch the sport continue to grow and look forward to watching our Pride players represent the United States.
About USSSA: USSSA is headquartered in Viera, Florida. USSSA is the world’s largest multi-sport athletic organization. Founded in 1968, USSSA has grown to over 4 million participants, competing in 14 nationally sanctioned sports including Baseball, Fastpitch, Slow Pitch, Karate, Basketball, Soccer and more!
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.