For the first time since 2003, both the United States’ men’s and women’s softball teams will take the field in Toronto for the 2015 Pan American Games.
The men begin their tournament on July 12 against the Dominican Republic. The men will start playoffs in the tournament on July 17. The women begin their play on July 19 against Puerto Rico. The women will start playoffs in the tournament on July 24.
The U.S. women have had overwhelming success in past Pan American Games by winning eight of the nine Pan American Games played.
“We’re going in there thinking that we’re going to get gold,” says Valerie Arioto. “And we’re working hard to get gold and that’s our expectations and you wouldn’t want anything less than that.
The women’s national team season is fully prepared for the Pan American Games, having won the World Cup of Softball just last week.
“There’s something special this year”, says Arioto. “This team has that kind of ‘It factor’ where everything, even in the beginning cause we’ve only trained for one trip of training in every ten days, already feels like everything is gelling together. I think that is such a huge thing.
When the women arrive at the Pan American Games they will face Puerto Rico as their first game and will have four remaining games before qualification to the playoff bracket. Leading into playoff qualification the women’s team will play Brazil, Canada, Cuba and Dominican Republic.
“The funny thing about international ball is that anybody can be that number one competitor,” says Arioto. “I think anyone we play or are against is our main competitor. We will focus on playing our game and showing no mercy.
Leading into the men’s Pan American tournament, Team USA will face Canada, Venezuela, Argentina and Mexico before playoff qualification.
Men’s softball returns after a 12-year absence at the Pan Ams. Before 2003, the U.S. men’s team had won the silver medal at every Pan American Games, since the beginning in 1979.
Chris Miljavac is the only player on the U.S. men’s softball team that was part of the 2003 Pan American silver-medal-winning team that will be returning to the 2015 Games.
Morgan Ainslie is a student in the sports media program at the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.