OKLAHOMA CITY — Kicking off their 2017 season this June in Irvine, Calif., the USA Softball Women’s National Team (WNT) will participate in eight events, including a four-city exhibition schedule across the United States. As the team begins to ramp up their international calendar in hopes of qualifying for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, four international events highlight the 2017 calendar of events, including the World Cup of Softball XII in Oklahoma City, two trips to Japan and a Pan American Games/World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) World Championship Qualifier in the Dominican Republic.
"The push to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games has started," said USA Softball Women's National Team Head Coach Ken Eriksen. "The summer of 2017 will be just a precursor to the time, effort and commitment of so many at USA Softball. We are preparing as a team for what will be a challenging Pan American/World Championship Qualifier in the Dominican Republic. Also, to have the opportunity to go to Japan early in the summer and then to have the lineup of the world’s best teams in Oklahoma City for the World Cup of Softball will definitely challenge Team USA right from the start."
Team USA kicks off its, season in Irvine, Calif. for training from June 12-18 while competing in two exhibition series at Deanna Manning Stadium on June 13 and 15. From there, the U.S. will make their first international trip of the season for the USA vs. Japan All-Star Series June 23-25. With the U.S. slated to compete against the current No. 1 ranked Japan, games will be held at Shellcom Sendai, in Izumi-ku, Sendai, and Yokohama Stadium, in Naka Ward, Yokohama, which will be the main venue for baseball and softball competitions during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
"I’m so excited to start out the summer in Southern California where I grew up playing the game,” said WNT outfielder Janie Takeda. “Meeting new people all over the country at every tour stop is one of my favorite parts about playing for USA Softball. Please come out and join us if we’re in your city! We’re all looking forward to meeting you!”
The U.S. will return to American soil for the World Cup of Softball XII, which will be held July 5-9 in Oklahoma City, Okla. From there, the WNT will head to Sacramento, Calif. for an exhibition doubleheader and youth clinic at Raley Field, home of the Sacramento River Cats minor league baseball team. The Sacramento tour stop will welcome home former USA Softball of Sacramento athletes Ali Aguilar and Ally Carda, who both competed in Junior Olympic (JO) softball within the association.
“USA Softball Sacramento is excited to welcome the best-of-the-best in women’s softball to Sacramento,” said USA Softball Sacramento Program Director Cassi Ponzo. “This event gives our community a chance to see softball played at the highest level by what could be future 2020 Olympians...all right here in our own backyard. With the added exclusive events such as the Player Camp and the VIP Meet & Greet, plus the chance to see so much of our local talent compete, this event will be fun for the whole family.”
The team will have a brief break before hitting the road for tour stops in the state of Alabama. First up, Team USA will play in an exhibition doubleheader at Rhoads Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala. on July 20. This stop will serve as a homecoming for four-time NFCA All-American Haylie McCleney (Morris, Ala.), who graduated from the University of Alabama in 2016. From there, the team will continue east for another doubleheader exhibition series at Jane B. Moore Field in Auburn, Ala. on July 22. Auburn softball fans will have the opportunity to watch two-time NFCA All-American Kasey Cooper (Dothan, Ala.) compete in the Red, White and Blue at the conclusion of her senior season.
The U.S. will then travel to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic for the Pan American Women’s Softball Championship August 4-13. The event will serve as a qualifier for the 2018 WBSC Women’s World Championship to be held in Chiba, Japan and the 2019 Pan American Games to be held in Lima, Peru. Closing out the 2017 season for the WNT is the Japan Cup, which will be held August 25-27 in Takasaki City, Japan.
Fans at home can follow along all summer long with the USA Softball National Teams at USASoftball.com.
-- Courtesy of USA Softball