Monday, June 19, 2006

USA Softball today announced the country's national (press release, roster) and university-level (press release, roster) teams for upcoming international competitions. On the roster pages, you can click on each player's name to get a profile of her (this feature does not appear to be available for the university team yet).

The USA national team will participate in both the World Cup of softball, a six-team gathering July 13-17 in Oklahoma City and the World Championships, a 16-team competition August 27-September 5 in Beijing, China.

Although the above-linked release for the university team says the squad will play in the 2006 World University Games, I'm pretty sure that's in error. The World University Games are played in odd-numbered years, plus this timetable says (correctly, I believe) the team will be playing in the July 15-23 World University Softball Championships in Taiwan.

The national team's roster consists of 17 players. Eleven of them were on the 2004 US Olympic team, Texas's Cat Osterman being the only Athens, Greece participant who played during the just-completed 2006 college season. Of the additional six players, five played on last year's US national team, including 2006 collegians Alicia Hollowell and Caitlin Lowe of Arizona, and Monica Abbott of Tennessee. The only player named to this year's national team who has not been on it previously is Andrea Duran, who recently completed her collegiate career for UCLA. Mike Candrea, coach of this year's NCAA champion Arizona, will be the skipper for the national team.

The university-level team will have a maize and blue Michigan tint, as Carol (Hutch) Hutchins, who directed the Wolverines to the 2005 NCAA title, will preside. Further, two major contributors to UM's title -- pitcher Jennie Ritter and first-baseperson Samantha Findlay, who belted a crucial home run in the '05 World Series decider -- will be on the squad.

Other top players include pitchers Katie Burkhart (Arizona State) and Brianne McGowan (Oregon State), and national collegiate batting-average leader Sarah Fekete of Tennessee.