FORT MYERS, Fla. –– In preparation for the 2022 Americas Qualifier, the USA Softball Men’s National Team (MNT) concluded its first training of the year following a series of exhibition games against Czech Republic, “Team Roman” and “Team Varm” – which included elite men’s fast pitch athletes from across the country. Finishing with an 8-2 record, Team USA kicked off competition with four games against Team Roman and Team Varm followed by a five-game series against Czech Republic and a solo contest against Hill United.
The Red, White and Blue started out strong with back-to-back wins over Team Roman (5-2) and Team Varm (6-1) on Saturday, Jan. 22 before dropping their first game of the day to Team Varm (0-2) on Sunday. The Eagles didn’t stay down long, though, as they quickly responded with a 7-1 win over Team Roman to close out day two of exhibition games. Kicking off a five-game series against Czech Republic on Monday, Jan. 24, Team USA came out firing with back-to-back run-rule victories that saw a total of 25 runs scored while limiting the Czechs to a low of five runs. The U.S. offense proved superior through the remaining three games against Czech Republic, plating a dominating 37 runs en route to three more wins – two of which were claimed via run-rule. Closing out training with a solo contest against Hill United, the U.S. jumped on top early but were unable to maintain the lead, falling 5-2 to conclude the week with an overall 8-2 record. To view full box scores and stats, visit USASoftball.com.
The U.S. offense shined throughout the training, scoring a combined total of 82 runs through ten games with 83 hits including 16 doubles, eight triples and three homeruns. Jonathan Lynch (Cape Giradeau, Mo.) led Team USA at the plate with 11 hits and a .423 batting average followed by Erick Ochoa (Imperial, Calif.), Yusef Davis (Long Beach, Calif.), Tyler Bouley (Champlin, Minn.), Zac Shaw (Odessa, Mo.), Dusten Rutt (Ephrata, Pa.), Cam Schiller (Prescott, Ariz.) and Blaine Milheim (Eaton Rapids, Mich.) who each ended the week hitting above .300.
In the circle, the U.S. pitching staff of Brad Kilpatrick (Florida), Bryce Te Kulve (Luxemburg, Wisc.), Joel Cooley (St. Paul, Minn.), and Cody Gibbons (Minnesota) combined for 68 strikeouts in 62 innings pitched with Kilpatrick fanning 23 batters of his own followed by Gibbons who recorded 22 strikeouts in 16.1 innings. With three starts apiece, Kilpatrick and Cooley each tallied a 2-1 record while replacement player Te Kulve and MNT athlete pool member Gibbons each earned two wins en route to the 8-2 record.
Following the MNT exhibition games is the USA Softball Winter Classic held at CenturyLink Sports Complex. Slated for Jan. 28-30, the Winter Classic will feature eight men's fast pitch teams from across the globe with members of the Red, White and Blue participating amongst their respective squads. Competition includes a four-game-guarantee with single elimination bracket play kicking off on Saturday, Jan. 29 followed by the crowning of a Champion on Sunday, Jan. 30. Live streaming will be available all weekend long at USASoftball.com.