On Saturday, Dec. 10, softball fans from all over had the unique opportunity to see their favorite USA Softball Olympians from the past take the field in a slow-pitch exhibition game against the Louisville Slugger Warriors Team. Held in conjunction with the National Fast Pitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Convention, the game was the first of its kind and commemorated the 20th anniversary of Olympic softball while celebrating softball’s return to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
The game brought together Olympians from all four Olympic quads – 1996, 2000, 2004, and 2008. Competing in Saturday evening’s festive game for Team USA was Monica Abbott (2008), Laura Berg (1996, 2000, 2004, 2008), Jennifer Brundage (2000), Crystl Bustos (2000, 2004, 2008), Lisa Fernandez (1996, 2000, 2004), Jennie Finch (2004, 2008), Amanda Freed (2004), Danielle Henderson (2000), Lovieanne Jung (2004, 2008), Kelly Kretschman (2004, 2008), Lauren Lappin (2008), Jennifer McFalls (2000), Stacey Nuveman (2000, 2004, 2008), Leah O’Brien-Amico (1996, 2000, 2004), Dot Richardson (1996, 2000), Michele Smith (1996, 2000), Jenny Topping (2004), Michelle Venturella (2000), and Natasha Watley (2004, 2008), while Olympic coaches Mike Candrea (2004, 2008) and John Rittman (2004, 2008) were also present.
The game also welcomed the Louisville Slugger Wounded Warriors, a team composed of injured veterans and active duty military personnel. Protectors of the Red, White and Blue, the Warriors Team was comprised of soldiers with physical wounds and are aided by modern prosthetic technology, while others have invisible wounds, including PTSD. The team included Carlo Adame (US Army), Leonard Anderson (US Air Force), Richard Burley (US Air Force), Brett Cleveland (US Air Force), Christopher Ferrell (US Air Force), Lonnie Gaudet (US Army), Matthew Kinsey (US Army), Ryan McIntosh (US Army), John Mitchell (US Army), Todd Reed (US Army), Tucker Rutherford (US Army), and Derrick Victor (US Air Force), while their staff included Gary LaFon (US Air Force), Joshua Wiggs (US Air Force), Chad Agustin (US Army), David Van Sleet (US Army), Kate Abney, and Dennis Turner.
Girls from the New Orleans Urban Youth Academy were named the honorary bat girls for the game.
About USA Softball
USA Softball is the National Governing Body (NGB) of Softball in the United States and a member of the United States Olympic Committee. Founded in 1933 as the Amateur Softball Association (ASA), USA Softball sanctions competition in every state through a network of 70 local associations and has grown from a few hundred teams in the early days to over 165,000 teams today, representing a membership of more than 2.02 million. USA Softball also annually registers over 25,000 umpires across the U.S. and is the leader in the industry in training for officials. USA Softball is responsible for selecting, training, equipping and promoting the six USA Softball National Teams that compete in international and domestic competitions. The USA Softball Women’s National Team is one of 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 10 World Championship titles as well as claimed eight World Cup of Softball titles. For more information about USA Softball, please visit http://www.usasoftball.com/.
About the Louisville Slugger Warriors
The Louisville Slugger Warriors are a highly decorated national slow pitch softball tournament team featuring U.S. Military Veterans and Active Duty Personnel who have suffered service-connected physical and invisible wounds. This high profile, nationally sponsored competitive tournament team consists of several military personnel that have been playing softball for close to five-years post-injury, and who desire to test themselves on a national competitive level. Many of the premiere players on the Louisville Slugger Warriors tem are testing the limits of prosthetic advancement that is available to extremely active amputees as they continue to push the limits of their rehabilitation process.
About Louisville Slugger
Founded in 1884, Louisville Slugger is the Official Bat and Equipment Bag of Major League Baseball®. This iconic baseball brand is part of Chicago-based Wilson Sporting Goods Co., the largest baseball and softball equipment provider in the world today. In the sports of baseball and softball, Wilson manufactures high-performance gloves, bats, uniforms, apparel, protective gear, accessories and player-development equipment through its Wilson, DeMarini, Louisville Slugger and ATEC brands. The company uses player insights to develop products that push equipment innovation into new territories and empower athletes at every level to perform at their best. Wilson is a subsidiary of Amer Sports Corporation.