OKLAHOMA CITY — Eleven National Team veterans and five rookies comprise the 2014 USA Softball Men’s Slow Pitch National Team roster, the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America and USA Softball announced today. The team will travel to Kitchener, Ontario, Canada this July to play a series of exhibition games and cap it off with Border Battle VI, against the 2014 Canadian Men’s Slow Pitch National Team on July 26 at Peter Hallman Ballyard.
2014 USA Softball Men’s Slow Pitch National Team Roster
Bryson Baker (Magalia, Calif.) Easton
Kevin Bazat (Columbia, Mo.) Easton
Robert Blackburn (Indian Trail, N.C.) Louisville Slugger
Travis Clark (Kenosha, Wis.) Easton
*Denny Crine (Henderson, NY) Miken
*Brandon Dillon (Anderson, Ind.) Easton
Kevin Filby (Cardington, Ohio) Miken
Jeff Hall (Gastonia, N.C.) Worth
Brett Helmer (Cicero, N.Y.) Easton
Scott Kirby (Miramar Beach, Fla.) Easton
Chris Larsen (Vancouver, Wash.) DeMarini
Jeff McGavin (Macomb, Mich.) Combat
*Donovan Pokraka (Englewood, Colo.) DeMarini
Luis Reyna (Tampa, Fla.) Easton
*LC Watson (Grand Prairie, Texas) Louisville Slugger
Brian Wegman (Hamilton, Ohio) Easton
Highlighting this year’s roster are six-time Men’s Slow Pitch National Team members Brett Helmer (Cicero, N.Y.) and Brian Wegman (Hamilton, Ohio), the 2013 USA Softball Male Slow Pitch Athlete of the Year. Both were on the inaugural squad in 2009 and have continued to represent the United States each year since.
“Receiving the nomination to represent USA softball humbles the biggest of egos,” said Wegman. “You instantly reflect and appreciate the people who helped you get this opportunity. Traveling to Canada for the first time in Border Battle history makes 2014 extra special. I have some good friends in Canada who can't wait to get us on their home turf.”
Returning to Team USA for his fifth campaign is Bryson Baker (Magalia, Calif.) who appeared on the squad in 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2013. Chris Larsen (Vancouver, Wash.) and Jeff McGavin (Macomb, Mich.) are both their third appearance on the National Team. Both were members of the 2010 and 2013 teams.
Six of this year’s National Team players were rookies on the 2013 USA Men’s Slow Pitch National Team. Kevin Bazat (Columbia, Mo.), Robert Blackburn (Indian Trail, N.C.), Travis Clark (Kenosha, Wis.), Kevin Filby (Cardington, Ohio), Jeff Hall (Gastonia, N.C.), Luis Reyna (Tampa, Fla.). Scott Kirby (Miramar Beach, Fla.) is also making his second appearance on the Team USA roster having been a member of the 2010 National Team.
Rounding out the 2014 roster will be rookies Denny Crine (Henderson, Nev.), Brandon Dillon (Anderson, Ind.), Donovan Pokraka (Englewood, Colo.) and LC Watson (Grand Prairie, Texas). Dillon was a member of the 2013 USA Softball Men’s Slow Pitch Future’s Team.
“I have been fortunate to experience many great moments, and meet a lot of great people in my softball career,” said Crine. “Finding out that I will have the honor of wearing the jersey of Team USA will, without a doubt, be the most humbling and proud moment I have had or will have on a softball field!”
The team will be coached by Steve Shortland (Converse, Texas) who is making his sixth-consecutive appearance as the head coach of Team USA.
“This is a fantastic group of players with a phenomenal mix of talent and skill,” said Shortland. "It’s always a benefit to have veteran players on our roster who have participated on Team USA before. But I’m also excited about the opportunity to spend time with our four newcomers and welcome them into this rare fraternity. I’m confident these 16 players will represent their country and ASA/USA Softball with distinction both on and off the field and I truly look forward to sharing this experience with them”
Created in conjunction with the inaugural Border Battle slow pitch competition against Canada in 2009, the Men’s Slow Pitch National Team program is now in its sixth run. With a 25-10 victory last year in Oklahoma City, Team USA extended its lead to 4-1 in the Border Battle series. The Americans won the inaugural Border Battle 30-23 but Canada evened the series in 2010 with a 30-29 win. The USA men rebounded in 2011 with a dominating 25-3 performance and followed that up in 2012 with a 32-21 victory.
In addition to participating in Border Battle VI, the 2014 Slow Pitch National Team will take on the 2014 USA Softball Men’s Slow Pitch Future’s Team as well as a second Canadian team in a series of exhibition games played July 24-26. A Canada vs. USA homerun derby will also take place. Prior to traveling to Canada, Team USA will also compete in two exhibition games against the USA Softball Men’s Slow Pitch Future’s Team, the first July 21 in Midland, Mich. and the second July 22 in Cleveland, Ohio. The roster for the USA Softball Men’s Slow Pitch Future’s Team will be named at a later date. Visit www.USASoftball.com for all of the latest news on all of the USA Softball National Teams.