E.A. Sports Today

Ready for the World (Games)

Team USA softball team heads to World Games in Birmingham after 2-1 win over USSSA Pride in final exhibition

By Brant Locklier
For East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD – The practice is over and it is on to Birmingham for The World Games.

The U.S. Women’s National Softball Team wrapped up a two-day stay of exhibition games at Choccolocco Park with a 2-1 win over the USSSA Pride Wednesday.

After putting her team through its paces against two teams it could see in Birmingham, Team USA head coach Heather Tarr is excited about the upcoming challenge of winning gold at The World Games.

”We are trying to build for the long term here, while being good in the short term this week,” Tarr said. “We have areas that we are not together on yet, but the team is starting to come together.”

One of the leaders helping it come together is 38-year-old Monica Abbott, a left-handed flame-thrower out of the University of Tennessee. The veteran pitcher has plenty of World Games and Olympic experience.

”She is something else and our kids learn so much from her,” Tarr said.

During its stay in Oxford, Team USA was overwhelmed by the hospitality of its citizens.

”It was too hot to take batting practice outside and we wanted to find somewhere to hit inside and within a few minutes we were in a place taking batting practice,” Tarr said. “Our kids loved the crowds here and they love signing the autographs for the kids. I have seen them rush by good food and go sign autographs before they eat and that is special.” 

In an exhibition series that started in Columbus, Ga., on the Fourth of the July, Team USA went 4-1. They beat Australia twice, split with Japan and beat the Pride 2-1. 

Team USA pounded 35 hits in the series, including six home runs and seven doubles. Its pitching staff combined to strike out 28 and spin a pair of shutouts.

“It has been such an experience lining up the players on this team,” Tarr said. “The experience of our coaches in the collegiate world have helped. There are many good players out there and now we just have to get these kids and the different parts become one. The World Games will be the first step. We have had some good tough games in the heat this week. It has been a great experience.”

Top-ranked Team USA is in a group with No. 3 Canada, No. 6 Chinese Taipei and No. 7 Italy. The other group includes No. 2 Japan, No. 4 Mexico, No. 5 Puerto Rico and No. 8 Australia.

Team USA opens the tournament against Italy at 7 p.m. Saturday, followed by 7 p.m. games against Chinese Taipei Sunday and Canada Monday. The top two teams from each group advance to the semifinals Tuesday, with the medal round taking place Wednesday.

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