World Cup of Softball
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – The first pitch of the 2009 KFC World Cup of Softball presented by Six Flag is less than 24 hours away at the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) Hall of Fame Complex in Oklahoma City, Okla., with the Italy and Netherlands game scheduled for July 16 at 11:30 a.m. The currently undefeated USA Softball Women’s National Team (12-0) gets into World Cup action Thursday at 7 p.m. against the Netherlands.
A premier international event that will be aired throughout the world on the networks of ESPN, the World Cup features the top teams from the 2008 Olympic Games: gold medalists Japan, silver medalists USA, bronze medalists Australia and fourth place finishers Canada. Also making an appearance at its first ever World Cup are the Netherlands, ranked eighth at the Beijing Olympics, and Italy, an emerging softball nation.
Netherlands and Italy will face each other at the World Cup for the first time since the Netherlands upset Italy to advance to the recent Olympics. But the biggest showdown will come on Saturday at 7 p.m. when the three-time Olympic Champion United States, now a relatively young team that relies heavily on its 10 rookies, takes on Japan for the first time since Japan took over the No. 1 world ranking by winning Beijing’s Gold Medal game 3-1.
"The big goal is to win the gold medal every time we take the field. That's ultimately what we're about as a program," said head coach Jay Miller (Starkville, Miss.). "We want to continue that and, more importantly, we want to get better individually for our players and we want to get better as a team, bottom line."
Though both the American and Japanese teams will look different in Oklahoma City, the eight veterans of Team USA—Monica Abbott (Salinas, Calif.), Andrea Duran (Selma, Calif.), Jennie Finch (La Mirada, Calif.), Vicky Galindo (Union City, Calif.), Lauren Lappin (Anaheim, Calif.), Caitlin Lowe (Tustin, Calif.), Cat Osterman (Houston) and Natasha Watley (Irvine, Calif.)—see the World Cup as an opportunity to redeem themselves from the silver medal disappointment.
“It’s always nice to come to Oklahoma City and compete in front of the best fans in the World. I think we are all excited to face Japan as the last time we matched up with them, the result wasn’t exactly what we wanted,” said Finch. “It’s not just Japan though that we are looking to as the top teams in the World will be in Oklahoma City. It’s an amazing opportunity for softball fans to see some incredible softball action.”
The USA is coming off its season opening 12-0 appearance at the 2009 Canada Cup in Surrey, B.C., Canada, where they captured a Gold Medal with a come-from-behind, bottom of the seventh inning rally over host Canada, 3-2. At the World Cup, the Americans will again face Canada, for the fifth time of the season, as well as Australia and the Netherlands.
Watley (Irvine, Calif.), named the Most Valuable Player of the Tournament, has been instrumental in the success of the team hitting .548 (17-for-31) with 14 RBI and 11 runs scored. Osterman and Abbott both earned four wins each for the team with Osterman earning the win in the circle in the Championship game against Canada.
The team has outscored opponent 78-5 and have a combined .373 batting average heading into the World Cup.
Although women’s fast pitch is the focus of the World Cup, the first USA Softball Men’s National Slow Pitch team will take part in three exhibition games on Thursday and Friday before competing in the inaugural Border Battle with Canada’s slow pitch team.
ESPN will air seven games live from the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City while also providing coverage on the www.espn360.com Web site. For more information on the television schedule, refer to the USA Softball Web site at www.usasoftball.com/folders.asp?uid=5056.
Tickets for the World Cup of Softball and the Border Battle are still on sale at www.softball.com and will also be available at the stadium ticket booth July 16-20. Fans who attend the games in person will have the chance to win prizes like wrist bands and even meet members of the USA Softball Women’s National Team.
The World Cup schedule is:
Thursday, July 16 – Fan Banners to first 3,000 fans!
11:30 AM Italy vs. Netherlands
2:00 PM Australia vs. Japan
7:00 PM ESPN USA vs. Netherlands
9:00 PM Canada vs. Italy
Friday, July 17 – Wear RED to support the troops! Camo Wrist Band packs to the first 2,000 fans!
11:30 AM Netherlands vs. Australia
2:00 PM Canada vs. Australia
7:00 PM ESPN USA vs. Italy - Autographs with Team USA to follow!!
9:00 PM Italy vs. Japan
Saturday, July 18 – PINK OUT! Pink hats to the first 5,000 fans! Show support for Breast Cancer research.
12:00 PM ESPN USA vs. Canada
3:00 PM ESPN Men’s Slow Pitch USA vs. Canada Border Battle
7:00 PM ESPN USA vs. Japan
9:00 PM Japan vs. Netherlands
Sunday, July 19 – First 1,000 fans receive a Team USA softball poster
12:00 PM ESPN USA vs. Australia
2:30 PM Japan vs. Canada
5:00 PM Italy vs. Australia
7:30 PM Netherlands vs. Canada
Monday, July 20 – USA Nike hats to the first 500 fans!
12:30 PM #6 Seed vs. #5 Seed
3:30 PM #4 Seed vs. #3 Seed
8:00 PM ESPN2 #1 Seed vs. #2 Seed - Autographs with Team USA to follow!!
Also check out www.usasoftball.com for complete coverage of the World Cup including box scores, recaps, interviews and much more. You can also follow the World Cup on our Twitter at www.twitter.com/asausasoftball/ and interact with us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/asausasoftball/.
The Amateur Softball Association, founded in 1933, is the National Governing Body of softball in the United States and a member of the United States Olympic Committee. The ASA has become one of the nation’s largest sports organizations and now sanctions competition in every state through a network of 83 local associations. The ASA has grown from a few hundred teams in the early days to over 210,000 teams today, representing a membership of more than three million. For more information on the ASA, visit http://www.asasoftball.com/.
About USA Softball
USA Softball is the brand created, operated and owned by the ASA that links the USA Men’s, Women’s, Junior Boys’ and Junior Girls’ National Team programs together. USA Softball is responsible for training, equipping and promoting these four National Teams to compete in international and domestic competitions. The USA Softball Women’s National Team is one of the 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 eight World Championship titles including the last six consecutive as well as claimed two World Cup of Softball titles. For more information about USA Softball, please visit http://www.usasoftball.com/.