TORONTO, Ontario, Canada — The USA Softball Women's National Team will begin their quest for the program's ninth Pan American Games Gold Medal when they take the field against Puerto Rico on July 19 at 7 p.m. EDT the Amateur Softball Association (ASA)/USA Softball announced today. Arriving in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on Thursday, Team USA is led by three Pan American Games veterans who will look to carry on the tradition of success at the Pan American Games.
"Toronto has done a great job of welcoming us," said Valerie Arioto (Pleasanton, Calif.). "From the softball facilities to the athlete's village, this place has been amazing. We're excited to get out there and play tomorrow. This team is special and we just really enjoy playing together and playing hard together. We're just going to take it game-by-game and stay within our system."
USA Softball enters the Pan American Games following the program's eighth World Cup of Softball Gold Medal. Team USA finished the 2015 World Cup with a 7-1 record, including a 6-1 win over Japan in the Championship Game. Team USA is led by Head Coach Ken Eriksen (Tampa, Fla./Head Coach at South Florida) who has led the program since 2011 and has previous Pan American Games experience as both a player and coach. Eriksen served as an assistant coach at the 2003 Pan American Games, was the Head Coach at the 2011 Pan American Games and also played in the Pan American games as a catcher and was a silver medalist in 1991 with Team USA.
"Our theme all summer is 'Be better than we were yesterday'," said Eriksen. "Right now, we're working towards an end result of playing the game flawlessly. Don't worry about anything else, not the scoreboard, not anything. We just have to play USA Softball."
Since softball was first introduced into the Pan American Games in 1979, the USA Softball Women's National Team has dominated, winning eight of the nine gold medals and a silver in 1983. In nine Pan American Games, the USA Softball Women’s National Team has been nothing short of outstanding. The USA has won 86-of-89 games for a winning percentage of .966. In 89 games the USA has outscored their opponents 628 to 39. In 2011, with a Pan American Games roster full of 17 rookies, the USA Softball Women’s National team recorded the program’s eighth Pan American Games gold medal. The U.S. completed the tournament with a perfect 9-0 record.
The women's softball competition in the multi-sport Pan American Games is scheduled for July 19-26. The complete game schedule for the USA Softball Women’s National Team: July 19 vs. Puerto Rico (7 p.m. EDT), July 20 vs. Brazil (2 p.m. EDT), July 21 vs. Canada (7 p.m. EDT), July 22 vs. Cuba (4:30 p.m. EDT) and July 23 vs. the Dominican Republic (2 p.m. EDT). The semifinals will be held on July 24 followed by the Bronze Medal game on July 25 and the Gold Medal game on July 26.
The Women's National Team is comprised of 12 Pan American Games rookies with three veterans, Valerie Arioto (Pleasanton, Calif.), Lauren Gibson (Pasadena, Md.) and Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) Making their Pan American Games debut are: Ally Carda (Elk Grove, Calif.), Raven Chavanne (Thousand Oaks, Calif.), Amanda Chidester (Allen Park, Mich.), Kellie Fox (San Diego, Calif.), Janelle Lindvall (Stevenson Ranch, Calif.), Haylie McCleney (Morris, Ala.), Jessica Moore (Sutter, Calif.), Sara Nevins (Pinellas Park, Fla.), Sierra Romero (Murrieta, Calif.), Kelsey Stewart (Wichita, Kan.), Janie Takeda (Placentia, Calif.) and Jaclyn Traina (Naples, Fla.).
Team USA is led by Ken Eriksen with Laura Berg (Corvallis, Ore./Head Coach at Oregon State), Howard Dobson (Baton Rouge, La./Asst. Coach at LSU) and Lisa Dodd (San Diego, Calif./Head Coach at UNLV) serving as Assistant Coaches.
Live stats will be available throughout the Pan American Games and fans at home can follow along with recaps and more at ASAUSASoftball.com.
USA SOFTBALL WNT Notes and Story Lines for the Pan American Games
- WNT: Team USA is currently riding a 64-game winning streak at the Pan American Games. The last time they suffered a loss was in 1983 at the Caracas Games against Canada.
- WNT: Against host country Canada, Team USA has an overall record of 35-1 in major international competitions.
- WNT: Three members of the Women’s National Team competed at the 2011 Pan American Games and have been on the U.S. roster every year since: Valerie Arioto, Lauren Gibson and Michelle Moultrie.
- WNT: Six (6) states represent the 15-person roster as Alabama, California, Florida, Kansas, Michigan and Maryland are represented.
- WNT: Two members of the Women’s National Team have won an NCAA National Championship as Jaclyn Traina won with the Alabama Crimson Tide in 2012 and Kelsey Stewart won with the Florida Gators in 2014 and 2015.
- WNT: Head Coach Ken Eriksen has led the U.S. since 2011 and has helped the team through its transition in recent years. He was an assistant coach at the 2003 Pan American Games, was the Head Coach at the 2011 Pan American Games and also played in the Pan American games as a catcher and was a silver medalist in 1991 with Team USA.
- WNT: Assistant Coach Laura Berg is the most decorated U.S. Softball player and is the only four-time softball Olympian. In addition to her three Olympic Gold Medals, Berg also has three Pan American Games Gold Medals (1999, 2003 and 2007).
- WNT: With no Olympic Games for softball in 2012 or 2016, the Pan American Games is the only multi-sport event in the world that USA Softball participates in as of right now.
- WNT: Women’s fast pitch softball is still in pursuit of Olympic reinstatement for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. A member of the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Softball Division, the world governing body of both baseball and softball, there is a major push for both sports to be included in the Tokyo 2020 games, where the two sports are very popular.
- WNT: With several sports campaigning to seek a place on the Tokyo 2020 program, softball and baseball are considered a favorite to be chosen when the IOC makes a decision at its session at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games.
- WNT: Funding of USA Softball has been nearly eliminated after the IOC decision; The Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America currently funds the program for the Women, Men, Junior Women and Junior Men’s National Team programs.
About ASA/USA Softball
Founded in 1933, the Amateur Softball Association (ASA)/USA Softball is the National Governing Body Softball in the United States and a member of the United States Olympic Committee. One of the nation’s largest sports organizations, ASA/USA Softball sanctions competition in every state through a network of 74 local associations and has grown from a few hundred teams in the early days to over 165,000 teams today, representing a membership of more than 2.5 million. ASA/USA is responsible for training, equipping and promoting the six USA Softball National Teams that compete in international and domestic competitions. The USA Softball Women’s National Team is one of only two women’s sports involved in the Olympic movement to capture three consecutive gold medals at the Olympic Games since 1996. The U.S. women have also won nine World Championship titles as well as claimed eight World Cup of Softball titles. For more information about ASA/USA Softball, please visithttp://www.
-- Courtesy of ASA/USA Softball