Jonathan Lynch: From Wiffle Ball to Fast Pitch - his USA Softball Experience

Nov. 29, 2017, 11 a.m. (ET)

Playing USA Softball truly is an honor and a privilege and I’m thankful that I have had the opportunity to represent USA Softball on both the Junior Men’s and Men’s National Team and play at the highest level. Being fortunate enough to wear the letters 'USA' across my chest and not only represent but compete for my country is an amazing feeling which is at times difficult to put into words.

The game of fast pitch softball is such an awesome game. Fast pitch softball has been a huge part of my life ever since I was a little kid, always going to tournaments with my dad on the weekends. It’s always been a blast and I’ve loved every minute of it. Ever since I started playing with the USA Junior Men’s National Team in 2012, I wanted to work my way up and earn a spot on the USA Men’s National Team. The experience of attending and competing at the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Junior Men’s World Championship was beyond amazing and resulted in memories to last a lifetime. Team USA finished fifth in Parana, Entre Rios, Argentina in 2012. Even though we wanted to win a Gold Medal and came up a little short, we had an amazing week and left it all on the field. From the team dinners we shared throughout the week, the time spent walking around touring the city and surrounding areas, the practices and the games, all these experiences encompass what made the whole trip so memorable. The experiences made us develop life-long friendships and memories that we all still hold onto today. I will never forget the general atmosphere of every game we played throughout the tournament but one, especially, stands out to me. The night we played host country Argentina in the night cap game – there wasn’t an open seat in the house. There were approximately 8,000 roaring, thundering fans packed into the stadium and very few were supporting the USA. One couldn’t hear what the other was saying from the infield to the outfield because it was so loud. The electric environment added to our energy and was incredible.

This past summer I was fortunate enough to be selected to the Men’s National Team and compete in both the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) World Championship in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada as well as the Pan American Championship in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Overall, both proved to be great weeks from the games we played throughout the tournament to all the experiences made amongst our teammates and our entire staff. Whitehorse, Canada was an awesome experience across the board. From competing in the games, hanging out at the Canada Games Rec Center, stepping foot in Skagway, Alaska, and hiking the scenic area while seeing the occasional bear, deer or fox roaming right next to us, the whole trip was an amazing experience. While we came up a little short of our goal, we were all hungry to compete, win and bring home the Gold Medal from the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic proved to be an eventful trip from start to finish. From getting delayed in Miami a few extra days to when we got there and had to play through hurricane season with constant rain throughout, to finally bringing home a Bronze Medal, the experience was unbelievable and a blast. Every day it seemed like a rain delay would occur right as we were heading out to the park to get ready for our game. Most of the time, we would head straight to the mall and grab some food or just hangout and wait out the rain delay. We went 4-2 in pool play, earning the No. 2 seed in our pool with a double life. To start Championship play, we knocked off Canada in an intense thriller and earned a spot to play Argentina and guaranteed a medal finish.  After Argentina beat us, we went on to play Venezuela, where they took the lead by one run in the seventh inning before going on to beat us and knock us out of the tournament. It was a close back-and-forth game on both sides. Some parts that stood out to me were our game against the Dominican Republic where the fans were going crazy in the stands, the moment of silence we had in the pitching circle after our game with Puerto Rico to pray for them and their families during the hurricanes, and winning the Bronze Medal. Yes, we came up a little short and wanted to win a Gold Medal, but we qualified for the 2019 Pan American Games and are hungry to hopefully bring a Gold Medal back in 2019.*

I am thankful for the relationships that I have built and continue building with everyone at USA Softball. I am currently a graduate assistant with the University of Missouri women’s softball team, where I do all kinds of things with the team, including throwing batting practice, hitting infield and outfield fungoes, catching bullpens and various other responsibilities. I am fortunate enough to constantly be around one of the best coaching staffs in the country, specifically Coach Ehren Earleywine and Coach Adam LaLonde, two former USA Softball Men’s National Team players. Every day I want to be like a sponge, constantly learning from them and trying to take any bit of advice or information I can to continue growing my knowledge of the game of fast pitch softball in all facets of the game. I hope to finish my Masters this coming Spring and would like to eventually pursue a coaching job in Division I collegiate softball.  The game of fast pitch softball as an all-around awesome game and I’m extremely thankful for the opportunity to be a part of and compete for USA Softball. I hope to continue promoting the men’s game and continue building it back up to what it used to be back when I attended tournaments with my dad every weekend. I still remember the atmosphere – you couldn’t beat it. From watching the games and playing wiffle ball with all the kids in between games to now playing myself is a spectacular feeling. I plan to continue my playing career in hopes of making the USA Softball Men’s National Team in the future and for many years to come, and help bring multiple Gold Medals back home. I look forward to the journey with various teammates and staff members, and the numerous experiences and memories soon to be made throughout the upcoming years.

*Editor’s Note: The complete sport lineup for the 2019 Pan American Games has not been finalized.