By Chrös McDougall | Oct. 11, 2017, 2:51 p.m. (ET)
Monica Abbott throws a pitch against Japan in the women's softball semifinals at the Olympic Games Beijing 2008 on Aug. 20, 2008 in Beijing.

 

Monica Abbott and Kelly Kretschman are looking for another go-round at the Olympic Games.

They took another step toward that goal on Wednesday.

Abbott, a 2008 U.S. Olympian, and Kretschman, a 2004 and 2008 Olympian, were among 56 athletes who accepted invitations to a USA Softball national team selection camp that will take place Jan. 1-5 in Clearwater, Florida. That camp will help determine the U.S. team for upcoming events including the 2018 world championships and World Cup of Softball.

Softball will return to the Olympic program for the 2020 Games in Tokyo. It was last contended at the 2008 Games in Beijing, where Team USA won a silver medal.

Abbott, a left-handed pitcher, was Team USA’s youngest player in Beijing at age 23. Last October, she became the first U.S. Olympian to say publicly that she would aim for a spot on the 2020 Olympic team.

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“If I can still sling the rock pretty well, I would like to play,” Abbott told Olympic soccer champion and interviewer Julie Foudy at the espnW: Women + Sports Summit in 2016. “I was the youngest player in 2008, and I would probably be the oldest in 2020. ... It would be my honor.”

Kretschman, now 38, was an alternate on the 2000 U.S. Olympic Softball Team before winning gold in Athens in 2004 and silver in Beijing.

They will have plenty of competition from the next generation of players who will be going for their first Olympics. Among them is infielder Shay Knighten, who was named the Women’s College World Series Most Outstanding Player in June after leading Oklahoma to the NCAA title.

Team USA is coming off a win at the last world championships, in 2016, and has won 10 world titles. The 2018 world championships will be held in August in Chiba, Japan. The Americans finished second to Japan at the 2017 World Cup of Softball.

USA Softball will also hold an open tryout in December.

Chrös McDougall has covered the Olympic movement for TeamUSA.org since 2009 on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc. He is based in Minneapolis-St. Paul.