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While You Were Out ... And We Were Too!

Thanks to our members for being patient while we were busy with the NFCA National Convention and then in the recovery phase. By this time, members should have received the December issue of Fastpitch Delivery, as well as the NFCA 2003 Directory and 2003 Calendar.

Here's a recap of the latest news:

USA Wins First-Ever Junior Pan American Championships Title

Contributed by Brian McCall, ASA Director of Communications -- The USA Junior Women's National Team defeated Canada 2-0 to capture the gold medal at the First Pan Am Championships in Hermosillo, Mexico. Monica Abbott (Salinas, CA), named as the tournament's Most Valuable Player, picked up her second win of the tournament after allowing only one hit and striking out 13.

Despite having runners in scoring position in the first two innings, the USA was unable to score until the fifth. With one out, Caitlin Lowe (Tustin, CA) had an infield single and moved to second when Lauren Lappin (Anaheim, CA) drew a walk. After Jodie Legaspi (Garden Grove, CA) flew out to right field, Christina Clark (Santa Ana, CA) singled to center to score Lowe.

The USA looked as if it was in jeopardy in the top of the sixth inning when KatherineVan Deviere smacked a drive down the right field line for the Canadians first and only hit of the game. Abbott rose to the occasion by striking out Jenna Campagnola to end the scoring threat.

The USA added an insurance run in the sixth inning. Lisa Dodd (San Diego, CA) led off with a double to the wall and Norrelle Dickson (Orange, CA) reached on an error by the Canadian third baseman. Kristin Vesely (Phoenix, AZ) hit a sharp grounder single up the middle that ricocheted off the pitcher to load the bases.

Following a pitching change, Lowe stepped to the plate with an opportunity to blow open the game. The Canadian infield was prepared for the speedy Lowe to slap another infield hit; instead, she drilled a single to centerfield to score Dodd. Dickson rounded third but was out at home on a great throw by Campagnola in centerfield to end the inning.

The USA pitching staff dominated its competition during the entire Pan Am Championships by shutting out ever opponent it faced. No USA pitcher yielded a single run in eight games, while its offense scored 91 runs, an average of over 10 runs a game.

By finishing in the top five of the Pan Am Championship, the USA earned its berth in the 2003 ISF Junior Women's World Championships next summer in Nanjing, China.

Dates Set for Junior Women's World Championship

Contributed by International Softball Federation Director of Communications Bruce Wawrzyniak -- The dates for the International Softball Federation (ISF) VII Junior Women's World Championship have been announced. The event, to be held in Nanjing, China, will take place from September 24-October 4, 2003.

Played every four years, the Junior Women's World Championship features 19-and-under teams from around the world. The last one took place in Taipei, Taiwan in 1999 and was won by Japan. Fifteen teams played in that event, which allows for a maximum of 16 teams.

The International Softball Federation is the governing body of softball internationally as recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the General Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF). Softball made its Olympic debut at the 1996 Games in Atlanta. There are 124 affiliated countries in the ISF and millions of participants in the sport worldwide.

Olympic Softball Safe For Now

By Lacy Lee Baker, NFCA Executive Director -- International Softball Federation (ISF) President Don Porter is relieved, but also knows there's still work to be done after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided to delay its vote on dropping softball from the Olympic program.

The vote to drop softball, baseball, and modern pentathlon from the Olympics was scheduled to take place Nov. 29 in Mexico City. However, after hearing presentations from the three sports and then debating on why the sports should be kept, the IOC Executive Committee postponed the issue until after the 2004 Olympic Games.

"At the beginning, we certainly had some concerns about being limited to only 10 minutes for our presentation, as well as the IOC's attempt to restrict our contact with International Olympic Committee members," Porter said. "However, we were able to go in a few days early and see some of the IOC members.

"We were somewhat surprised that as many IOC members took exception to IOC President Jacques Rogge's plan to drop the sports. In fact, in the debate that followed our presentations, over 40 IOC members supported not dropping the sports, while no one spoke in favor. This was the largest number of IOC members that had ever spoken on a single issue," Porter said. "Others even wanted to speak but did not get a chance since the debate was cut off after two and a half hours."

Porter believes that if a vote had been taken, keeping the sports as part of the program would have won overwhelmingly.

Porter was joined in his presentation by Jelena Tomic of Croatia, a softball player as well as secretary-general of the Croatian Softball Federation. In her portion of the presentation, Tomic said, "To take away the dream from so many girls is the same as banning women in all sports in the Olympics."

"We received many compliments on our presentation, and especially for having Jelena there to give her views as a player," Porter said.

Prior to the meeting, the ISF sent out the report that was reprinted in the November issue of Fastpitch Delivery, and during the IOC meeting many of the key facts were reviewed in a Power Point presentation.

Although Porter and Tomic were required to leave the meeting area after their presentation, they watched the proceedings on a television in the media center. After the one-sided debate, Rogge called for a coffee break, during which the IOC Executive Committee met to discuss their options. When the meeting resumed, Rogge announced that the Executive Committee had decided to delay the review of the Olympic program until after the 2004 Games.

Porter said that when Rogge ran for IOC president last year, he had advocated that the Games were too big, too costly, and something had to be done. "I agree with him, but if we're going to cut back, there has to be a process that will look fairly at all sports," Porter said.

The Associated Press reported that Rogge avoided a question about whether the three sports are assured of being part of the Beijing Olympics.

There was some question going into the November meeting if it was even legal to drop sports from the Olympic program within seven years of the Games, which in this case was Beijing. However, Rogge got a legal opinion on the Olympic Charter Rule 52, Section 1.1.4, that stated it was in the IOC's purview to change the program.

During the IOC session, each sport promised to find ways to share costs: baseball said that it planned to trim the length of its tournament and share fields with softball. Porter said that he told the IOC that softball would consider sharing a venue with baseball if necessary. He did point out in his presentation, however, that softball venues in Atlanta and Sydney were not too costly and still were in use.

"If it comes down to sharing a venue or being excluded from the Olympic Games, then we'll share a venue," Porter said.

Porter believes that there is still a chance softball will be eliminated for Beijing, but feels most of the IOC members do not want that to happen. In addition, he feels a great majority are not in favor of two of the sports the IOC's Program Commission wanted to add -- rugby 7 and golf. He does believe that the Chinese kick-boxing sport of wasue has a good chance of being included since it is a homegrown sport for China, and the IOC is leaning toward adding a sport for the host country.

"The IOC Beijing Coordination Commission just met in Beijing, and the general feeling is that they can hold off for a while before finalizing the sports program for 2008," Porter said. "The good news is that when Beijing bid for the Olympics, it included softball in its plans and has already budgeted for it. In fact, the venue is already in place.

"For the next two years, we're just going to proceed as we have -- lobbying the IOC members and making sure that everything goes well in Greece," Porter said.