The USA Softball Women's National Team (WNT) will begin their quest for the program's ninth Pan American Games Gold Medal on August 4 when they take the field against No. 5 Mexico at 1 p.m. CT, USA Softball announced today.
Arriving in Lima, Peru earlier in the week for training, Team USA is led by nine Pan American Games veterans who will look to carry the U.S. to the Gold Medal.
“We’re ready to compete again,” said WNT centerfielder Haylie McCleney (Morris, Ala.), who leads the U.S. offense entering the Pan American Games with a .395 batting average. “We’ve had a few days off for training, honed some things in and have had opportunities to grow our bond as a team. We’re all excited to be here in Lima representing Team USA and are ready to get back at it against Mexico.”
USA Softball enters the Pan American Games following the program capturing back-to-back USA Softball International Cup titles, including a 2-1 thriller over No. 2 Japan in the Gold Medal Game.
In addition to McCleney on offense, Valerie Arioto (Pleasanton, Calif.) continues to pose a threat in the cleanup spot with 10 RBI and five home runs while being walked 18 times through 12 international contests for the season. Team USA’s pitching continues to dominate with a staff ERA of 1.14 in 86 innings pitched.
Monica Abbott (Salinas, Calif.) and Cat Osterman (Houston, Texas) led the staff with 40 and 39 strikeouts, respectively, while Rachel Garcia (Palmdale, Calif.) has not allowed one run against international foes.
Team USA is led by Head Coach Ken Eriksen (Tampa, Fla./Head Coach at South Florida) who has led the program since 2011 and has previous Pan American Games experience as both a player and coach. Eriksen served as an assistant coach at the 2003 Pan American Games, was the Head Coach at the 2011 and 2015 Pan American Games and also played in the Pan American games as a catcher and was a silver medalist in 1991 with Team USA.
“This is probably the toughest field that we’ve ever had at the Pan American Games,” said Eriksen. “We’re facing three of the top five teams in the world, Venezuela is always competitive, and Peru will be strong with their hometown crowd behind them. It’s going to be a challenge, but if we can maintain a level of flawlessness this week, we’ve got a pretty good chance to stand atop of the podium at the end of this.”
Since softball was first introduced into the Pan American Games in 1979, the USA Softball Women's National Team has dominated, winning eight Gold Medals and two Silver Medals.
In 10 appearances at the Pan American Games, the WNT has compiled an all-time record of 93-4 and will look to take back the Gold Medal after falling to host country Canada at the 2015 Toronto Pan American Games.
The women's softball competition in the multi-sport Pan American Games is scheduled for August 4-10.
The complete game schedule for the USA Softball WNT:
- No. 5 Mexico (August 4, 1 p.m. CT),
- No. 4 Puerto Rico (August 5, 10 a.m. CT),
- No. 3 Canada (August 6, 10 a.m. CT),
- No. 16 Venezuela (August 7, 10 a.m. CT)
- No. 20 Peru (August 8, 4 p.m. CT).
The semifinals will be held on August 9 with the Gold Medal Game slated for 2 p.m. CT on August 10.
“We’re looking forward to the challenge,” Eriksen continued. “Every day is going to be different and people step up against the United States, so we have to be ready to meet those challenges.”
Live stats will be available throughout the Pan American Games and fans at home can follow along with recaps and more at USASoftball.com.
USA SOFTBALL Notes and Story Lines for the Pan American Games
- Three members of the Women’s National Team will be competing in their third Pan American Games: Valerie Arioto (2011, 2015), Michelle Moultrie (2011, 2015) and Cat Osterman (2003, 2007).
- Five (5) states represent the 15-person roster as Alabama, California, Florida, Kansas and Texas are represented.
- Six (6) members of the Women’s National Team have won an NCAA National Championship: Rachel Garcia (UCLA, 2019), Kirsti Merritt, Aubree Munro and Kelsey Stewart (Florida, 2015, 2014) and Keilani Ricketts and Shelby Pendley (Oklahoma, 2013).
- Head Coach Ken Eriksen has led the U.S. since 2011. He was an assistant coach at the 2003 Pan American Games, was the Head Coach at the 2011 and 2015 Pan American Games. He also played in the Pan American games as a catcher and was a silver medalist in 1991 with Team USA.
- Assistant Coach Laura Berg is the most decorated U.S. Softball player and is the only four-time softball Olympian. In addition to her three Olympic Gold Medals, Berg also has three Pan American Games Gold Medals (1999, 2003, 2007).
- Assistant Coach Tairia Flowers is a two-time Pan American Games Gold Medalist (2003, 2007).
- Women’s fast pitch softball will be played at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games program after being removed from the Olympic Games program following the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
- Team USA was the first team sport to punch their ticket to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games after claiming the 2018 World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Women’s Softball World Championship in Chiba, Japan.