Category Archives: IOC

12-8-2016 Yokohama Stadium Approved for 2020

WBSC WELCOMES IOC APPROVAL OF YOKOHAMA STADIUM FOR OLYMPIC BASEBALL, SOFTBALL AT TOKYO 2020 GAMES 

 

LAUSANNE, Switzerland — The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) today welcomed the decision of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to approve the Tokyo 2020 venue proposal, which confirmed the 30,000-seat Yokohama Stadium as the main venue for baseball and softball events at the Olympic Games in 2020.

Approximately 40 km/25 miles south of Tokyo and located in the city centre, Yokohama Stadium is the home of Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) club Yokohama DeNA BayStars.

In July, WBSC officials conducted inspections of Yokohama Stadium as a potential Olympic venue.

“WBSC is delighted with the decision of the International Olympic Committee Executive Board to confirm Yokohama Stadium as a main venue,” said WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari. “Yokohama Stadium with its downtown skyline will provide a spectacular backdrop for Olympic baseball and softball — this is an exciting day that takes baseball and softball one step further on the historic road to Tokyo 2020.”

The ballpark in the city of 3.7 million features a “natural grass” look, but the entire field is fitted with a next generation artificial turf, with dirt cut-outs around the bases, pitcher’s mound and home plate circle.

Collaborations will continue between WBSC and Tokyo 2020 on the tournament format and the venue plan in the Tokyo Metropolitan area and how a game(s) in Fukushima could potentially be realised. Potential final proposals to the IOC are expected in 2017. The venue process for baseball and softball events has been generating a media buzz in Japan and internationally.

WBSC is also working to confirm the Olympic baseball and softball qualification method in early 2017.

7-5-2016 USA Softball teams

USA Softball Women’s and Elite Teams dominate in opening games of the World Cup of Softball XI; USA Softball Slow Pitch National Team earns 25-24 win in Slow Pitch Showdown

OKLAHOMA CITY – The World Cup of Softball XI action officially kicked off today as teams battled each other and the heat at the ASA Hall of Fame Complex – OGE Energy Field – INTEGRIS Field. Highlighting the day was a 13-2 (four inning) run-rule victory by the USA Softball Women’s Elite Team and a 11-1 (four inning) win for the USA Softball Women’s National Team. Also seeing action today during Border Battle VIII, the USA Softball Slow Pitch National Team and the USA Softball Men’s Futures Slow Pitch National Team faced off in the fourth-annual Slow Pitch Showdown, with the Slow Pitch National Team earning the 25-24 win. For the day, the Slow Pitch National Team went 1-1, while the USA Futures also went 1-1.

Click here for box scores for all World Cup of Softball XI games

Click here for box scores for all Border Battle VIII games

USA Elite 13, Czech Republic 2 (four innings)

Click here for a box score

The USA Softball Women’s Elite Team utilized a nine-run, second inning to catapult them to a 13-2 (four inning) win over Czech Republic in their first competition of the 2016 season. Behind the hot bat of Hannah Flippen (Bonita, Calif.), the U.S. hit three home runs en route to the win.

“The team did a good job of coming out and being ready to go,” said Head Coach Tairia Flowers (Tucson, Ariz.). “It’s the first true international game for a lot of these athletes, so I was excited to see some great defensive plays and at-bats during the game. We had a few jitters in the first inning, but they did a great job of locking in and making something happen in that second inning.”

Paige Lowary (Grimes, Iowa) got the start in the circle for the U.S. and her defense put in work with a pair of groundouts to record the first two outs. A walk put the first runner of the game on base, but was caught stealing as Madeline Jelenicki (Santa Clarita, Calif.) fired the ball to second to get the final out in the top of the first. Team USA would put a runner on base in the bottom half of the frame as Ali Aguilar (Orangevale, Calif.) reached on a two-out walk, but a fly ball to center kept the game tied at 0-0 through one inning of play.

The Czech Republic would get two runners on base in the top of the second off a defensive miscue and a double, but Lowary fired back with a pair of strikeouts to end the threat and keep Czech Republic off the board. The scoring got started for the Red, White and Blue in the bottom of the second, as Flippen led off the at-bat with a solo shot. A walk to Mysha Sataraka (Honolulu, Hawaii) put the next runner on for the U.S., before Jelenicki hit the second home run of the inning to plate another two runs.

“Today went really well and we hit the ball like crazy,” said Flippen. “Getting to wear the USA jersey is a huge accomplishment, and then to come out and win our first game, it was a great feeling.”

A walk to Bailey Landry (Prairieville, La.) would prompt a pitching change for the Czech Republic as Martina Blahova entered in relief for starter Veronika Peckova. Facing her first batter, Blahova walked Allexis Bennett (Corona, Calif.) and Astin Donovan (Guilford, Conn.) bunted for a single to load the bases. Three more runs for the U.S. would score as an illegal pitch would bring home Landry before Bennett and Donovan scored on a passed ball. Three-straight walks to Aguilar, Sam Fischer (Simi Valley, Calif.) and Flippen loaded the bases for the second time in the inning as Sataraka hit a sac-fly to plate Aguilar for run number seven. The U.S. would plate their last run of the inning when Fischer took advantage of a passed ball. After two innings of play, the USA Elite team led 9-0.

It was a three-up and three-down inning for Lowary in the circle as she recorded a pair of strikeouts and a groundout to bring the U.S. back to the plate. Landry led off the bottom of the third with a single to right field, and Bennett cleared the bases with a blast over right field.

The Czech Republic would score two runs in the top of the fourth inning as Tereza Jakesova and Tereza Pochobradska came around on a single and a fielder’s choice. Leading 11-2 entering the bottom of the fourth, the U.S. would earn the win via the run-rule as Bennett tripled to center to score Brooke Vines (Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.) and Landry.

USA 11, Philippines 1 (four innings)

Click here for a box score

Team USA jumped out to an early lead in their first game of the World Cup of Softball XI as the Eagles captured an 11-1 (four inning) win over the Philippines. The U.S. rallied from a 1-0 deficit in the bottom of the first, combining for 12 hits, including home runs from Valerie Arioto (Pleasanton, Calif.), Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) and Delaney Spaulding (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.).

“It’s a work in progress and we’ve still got a long way to go,” said Head Coach Ken Eriksen (Tampa, Fla.). “It’s nice to get the first game under your belt. Our defense did a great job of getting out of the first inning with only one run allowed. Jess Moore did a fantastic job of bearing down on that third out, and Raven Chavanne came up and got things going for our offense. The team felt good today.”

The Philippines would jump on the board in the top of the first inning after a walk and hit-by-pitch put two runners on base with one out. A single to center loaded the bases, and a ground ball brought in a run. The U.S. responded in the bottom half of the frame when Raven Chavanne (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) got the offense going with a leadoff double and advanced to third on a throwing error. Haylie McCleney (Morris, Ala.) put runners on the corner, beating out a high throw to first base before swiping second to put both runners in scoring position. Kelsey Stewart (Wichita, Kan.) tied up the game with a ground ball, plating Chavanne and advancing McCleney to third. A walk to Amanda Chidester (Allen Park, Mich.) put runners on the corners again for the U.S., before Arioto cleared the bases with a blast over the left field fence.

Not to be outdone, Moultrie followed with a solo shot to plate run number five of the inning. A single from Spaulding continued the momentum and an Aubree Munro (Brea, Calif.) double scored the last run of the at-bat for the U.S. After one inning of play, Team USA held a 6-1 lead.

“The energy that we had in the dugout, especially coming from behind, was great,” said Chidester. “We went through the entire lineup and everyone did their part. The team really came together to put up six runs to set the tone. We kept up the energy and fought all the way through.”

Philippines was retired in order in the top of the second to bring the U.S. back to the plate. The Red, White and Blue would get base runners on in the bottom half of the inning, but were kept from adding to their lead. The U.S. had a pitching change in the top of the third, as Ally Carda (Elk Grove, Calif.) entered for U.S. starter Jessica Moore (Sutter, Calif.). Carda continued to stifle the Philippines offense, letting her defense work behind her to keep the game at 6-1, USA.

Spaulding sparked the offense in the bottom of the third inning with a leadoff solo home run. Another two runs would get added to the U.S. lead as Janie Takeda (Placentia, Calif.) and Kasey Cooper (Dothan, Ala.) came around to score on a double from Stewart to extend the lead to 9-1.

After retiring the side in order in the top of the fourth, Team USA came back to the plate needing just two runs to capture the win. The U.S. did just that, as Arioto and Bianka Bell (Tampa, Fla.) scored on a single from Cooper to give the Eagles the 11-1 (four inning) victory.

Slow Pitch Showdown

USA 25, USA Futures 24

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The USA Softball Slow Pitch National Team utilized four home runs in the bottom of the seventh to keep bragging rights over the USA Futures as they earned the walk-off 25-24 win.

The USA Futures struck first in the top of the first inning before the Slow Pitch National Team took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the frame. A string of singles in the top of the second inning gave the USA Futures a 4-2 lead, 4-2 before a pair of two-run home runs by the Slow Pitch National Team regained the lead for the Slow Pitch National Team, 6-4.

Kyle Pearson (Stonewall, La.) hit a solo shot in the top of the third to bring the game within one, but a four-run third inning by the Slow Pitch National Team extended their lead to 10-5. Both teams exploded offensively as the USA Futures plated five runs and the Slow Pitch National Team put up six runs in the fourth inning.

Both sides were held scoreless in the fifth, with the Slow Pitch National Team entering the sixth with a 16-10 lead. The USA Futures would respond, capitalizing on six home runs to go up 22-16. The Slow Pitch National Team would get within two on a home run from Steve Whaley (Richardson, Texas) and an RBI single from Kevin Kennington (Lake City, Fla.).

Jeremy Yates (Lake City, Fla.) hit a two-run shot in the top of the seventh inning to extend the USA Futures lead to 24-20. Trailing by four, the Slow Pitch National Team put up five runs with the help of four long balls to earn the 25-24 win.

The USA Softball Slow Pitch National Team and the USA Softball Men’s Futures Slow Pitch National Team return for the final day of Border Battle VIII action tomorrow, including the highly-anticipated Border Battle matchup between the USA Softball Slow Pitch National Team and Team Canada.

Notable July 5 performances

Australia 7, Netherlands 2

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Erin Thras had two extra base hits, sparking Australia to a 7-2 victory over the Netherlands in their opening game of the World Cup of Softball XI. Vanessa Stokes put together a nice outing in the circle for the Aussies, issuing just one hit and two walks while striking out three during her four innings of work. Offensively, Australia’s Stacey Porter, Rachel Lack and Thras combined for six hits and four RBI.

The game was never in doubt after the second, as Australia scored one run on a groundout by Stacey McManus. Australia also pushed one run across in each of the third, fourth and fifth innings. Two runs in the top of the sixth helped the Netherlands close its deficit to 4-2. An RBI triple by Soclania Van Gurp and an RBI single by Jessie Van Aalst put the Netherlands within two of Australia, but Australia quickly matched Netherlands’ strong inning with a three-run inning of its own in the sixth. Australia scored on an RBI single by Chelsea Forkin and a two-run home run by Thras.

Puerto Rico 3, Venezuela 2

Click here for box score

Puerto Rico outlasted Venezuela on Tuesday after five lead changes to earn the 3-2 win thanks to a strong sixth inning. Puerto Rico’s Meghan King was strong in the circle, stifling Venezuela’s offense and allowing just two hits while striking out four batters in her three innings of work.

In the bottom of the first, Venezuela grabbed the early lead, 1-0. Venezuela’s threat began with a single by Maria Soto. A single by Yuruby Alicart then moved Maria Soto from first to third before a ground ball plated the run. Puerto Rico tied the game in the top of the second on an RBI single from Luz Feliciano.

The game stayed tied at 1-1 until the fifth inning, when Venezuela’s Yaicey Sojo hit a solo home run to give Venezuela a 2-1 lead. A key sixth-inning rally gave Puerto Rico the lead for good, as Karla Claudio hit an RBI single. Elicia D’Orazio would also come around to score on a defensive miscue to give Puerto Rico the eventual 3-2 win.

Great tickets are still available for the Border Battle VIII and World Cup of Softball XI, and can be purchased outside the ASA Hall of Fame Complex at the Ticket Booth. For complete coverage of Border Battle VIII and the World Cup of Softball XI including bios, rosters, live stats, streaming and results log on to ASAUSASoftball.com.

About ASA/USA Softball
Founded in 1933, the Amateur Softball Association (ASA)/USA Softball is the National Governing Body of Softball in the United States and a member of the United States Olympic Committee. One of the nation’s largest sports organizations, 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 2.2 million. ASA/USA is responsible for 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 nine World Championship titles as well as claimed eight World Cup of Softball titles. For more information about ASA/USA Softball, please visit http://www.asausasoftball.com/.

About the World Baseball Softball Confederation

Headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland — the Olympic Capital — the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) is the world governing body for baseball and softball. WBSC has 213 National Federation and Associate Members in 142 countries and territories across Asia, Africa, Americas, Europe and Oceania, which represent a united baseball/softball sports movement that encompasses over 65 million athletes and attracts approximately 150 million fans to stadiums worldwide annually.

The WBSC also governs all international competitions involving official National Teams. The WBSC oversees the Softball World Championships (Men, Women, U-19 Men, and U-19 Women), Premier12, World Baseball Classic, and Baseball World Cups (U-12, U-15, U-18, U-23 and Women’s).

For further information, please go to www.WBSC.org or follow the WBSC on Twitter at @WBSC.

50-23-2016 World Softball Championship

Women’s Softball World Championship

SURREY (CAN) – The World Baseball Softball Confederation today announced that a record 31 nations will be competing at the 15th WBSC Women’s Softball World Championship in Surrey, Canada, from 15-24 July.

The 15th Women’s Softball World Championship in Surrey will bring together the world’s top softball athletes from all five regions, representing the largest global footprint in the event’s history, as eleven nations will be making their women’s world championship debuts.

Stepping onto the women’s softball world stage for the first time are: Brazil, Ecuador, India, Ireland, Israel, Kenya, Pakistan, Peru, Serbia, Switzerland, and Uganda.

Africa (2): Kenya, Uganda
Americas (10): Brazil, Cuba, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Peru, United States, Venezuela, and host Canada;
Asia (6): China, Chinese Taipei, India, Japan, Pakistan, Philippines;
Europe (11): Austria, Czech Republic, France, Great Britain, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, Serbia, Switzerland;
Oceania (2): Australia, New Zealand.

WBSC Softball Division President, Dale McMann said: “The worldwide interest and development of our sport globally is reflected in the widest field of nations participating in the pinnacle women’s softball event, while new nations continue to enrich and emerge upon our sport’s global stage.”

Round Robin sections announced

The 31 nations of the 2016 WBSC Women’s Softball World Championship have been delegated to their respective sections and will open the event with a group round robin:

Section 1: Japan, Venezuela, France;
Section 2: USA, Brazil, Austria, Israel;
Section 3: Australia, Mexico, Switzerland, Serbia;
Section 4: Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, Uganda;
Section 5: Chinese Taipei, Puerto Rico, India, Ecuador;
Section 6: Netherlands, Czech Republic, Philippines, Pakistan;
Section 7: China, Cuba, Guatemala, Greece;
Section 8: New Zealand, Italy, Kenya, Peru.

The Women’s National Team of Japan will head to Surrey as the two-time defending world champions, capturing gold medals in Haarlem (NED) in 2014 and Whitehorse (CAN) in 2012.

The United States – the Eagles – have won nine total women’s world championships and took home the silver medal in 2012 and 2014.

Oceania’s Australia – the Aussie Spirit – claimed the bronze medal in Whitehorse and Haarlem.

Host Canada is expected to perform well after their gold-medal win at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto.

International selection of Umpires

WBSC has appointed 30 umpires from 18 countries from all corners of the world to officiate in the 15th WBSC Women’s Softball World Championship.

7-19-2015 Pan American Softball Begins

WOMEN’S NATIONAL SOFTBALL TEAM

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 18, 2015

Women’s National Team seeks ninth Pan American Gold at Toronto 2015 Pan American Games

TORONTO, Ontario, Canada  — The USA Softball Women’s National Team will begin their quest for the program’s ninth Pan American Games Gold Medal when they take the field against Puerto Rico on July 19 at 7 p.m. EDT the Amateur Softball Association (ASA)/USA Softball announced today.  Arriving in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on Thursday, Team USA is led by three Pan American Games veterans who will look to carry on the tradition of success at the Pan American Games.

 

Click here for the 2015 USA Softball Women’s National Team roster

 

“Toronto has done a great job of welcoming us,” said Valerie Arioto (Pleasanton, Calif.).  “From the softball facilities to the athlete’s village, this place has been amazing.  We’re excited to get out there and play tomorrow.  This team is special and we just really enjoy playing together and playing hard together.  We’re just going to take it game-by-game and stay within our system.”

 

USA Softball enters the Pan American Games following the program’s eighth World Cup of Softball Gold Medal.  Team USA finished the 2015 World Cup with a 7-1 record, including a 6-1 win over Japan in the Championship Game.  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 Pan American Games and also played in the Pan American games as a catcher and was a silver medalist in 1991 with Team USA.

 

“Our theme all summer is ‘Be better than we were yesterday’,” said Eriksen.  “Right now, we’re working towards an end result of playing the game flawlessly.  Don’t worry about anything else, not the scoreboard, not anything.  We just have to play USA Softball.”

 

Since softball was first introduced into the Pan American Games in 1979, the USA Softball Women’s National Team has dominated, winning eight of the nine gold medals and a silver in 1983.  In nine Pan American Games, the

USA Softball Women’s National Team has been nothing short of outstanding. The USA has won 86-of-89 games for a winning percentage of .966. In 89 games the USA has outscored their opponents 628 to 39.  In 2011, with a Pan American Games roster full of 17 rookies, the USA Softball Women’s National team recorded the program’s eighth Pan American Games gold medal. The U.S. completed the tournament with a perfect 9-0 record.

 

The women’s softball competition in the multi-sport Pan American Games is scheduled for July 19-26. The complete game schedule for the USA Softball Women’s National Team: July 19 vs. Puerto Rico (7 p.m. EDT), July 20 vs. Brazil (2 p.m. EDT), July 21 vs. Canada (7 p.m. EDT), July 22 vs. Cuba (4:30 p.m. EDT) and July 23 vs. the Dominican Republic (2 p.m. EDT).  The semifinals will be held on July 24 followed by the Bronze Medal game on July 25 and the Gold Medal game on July 26.

 

The Women’s National Team is comprised of 12 Pan American Games rookies with three veterans, Valerie Arioto (Pleasanton, Calif.), Lauren Gibson (Pasadena, Md.) and Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.)  Making their Pan American Games debut are: Ally Carda (Elk Grove, Calif.), Raven Chavanne (Thousand Oaks, Calif.), Amanda Chidester (Allen Park, Mich.), Kellie Fox (San Diego, Calif.), Janelle Lindvall (Stevenson Ranch, Calif.), Haylie McCleney (Morris, Ala.), Jessica Moore (Sutter, Calif.), Sara Nevins (Pinellas Park, Fla.), Sierra Romero (Murrieta, Calif.), Kelsey Stewart (Wichita, Kan.), Janie Takeda (Placentia, Calif.) and Jaclyn Traina (Naples, Fla.)

 

Team USA is led by Ken Eriksen with Laura Berg (Corvallis, Ore./Head Coach at Oregon State), Howard Dobson (Baton Rouge, La./Asst. Coach at LSU) and Lisa Dodd (San Diego, Calif./Head Coach at UNLV) serving as Assistant Coaches.

 

Live stats will be available throughout the Pan American Games and fans at home can follow along with recaps and more at ASAUSASoftball.com.

 

USA SOFTBALL WNT Notes and Story Lines for the Pan American Games

–          WNT: Team USA is currently riding a 64-game winning streak at the Pan American Games.  The last time they suffered a loss was in 1983 at the Caracas Games against Canada.

–          WNT: Against host country Canada, Team USA has an overall record of 35-1 in major international competitions.

–          WNT: Three members of the Women’s National Team competed at the 2011 Pan American Games and have been on the U.S. roster every year since: Valerie Arioto, Lauren Gibson and Michelle Moultrie.

–          WNT: Six (6) states represent the 15-person roster as Alabama, California, Florida, Kansas, Michigan and Maryland are represented.

–          WNT: Two members of the Women’s National Team have won an NCAA National Championship as Jaclyn Traina won with the Alabama Crimson Tide in 2012 and Kelsey Stewart won with the Florida Gators in 2014 and 2015.

–          WNT: Head Coach Ken Eriksen has led the U.S. since 2011 and has helped the team through its transition in recent years.  He was an assistant coach at the 2003 Pan American Games, was the Head Coach at the 2011 Pan American Games and also played in the Pan American games as a catcher and was a silver medalist in 1991 with Team USA.

–          WNT: 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 and 2007).

–          WNT: With no Olympic Games for softball in 2012 or 2016, the Pan American Games is the only multi-sport event in the world that USA Softball participates in as of right now.

–          WNT: Women’s fast pitch softball is still in pursuit of Olympic reinstatement for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.  A member of the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Softball Division, the world governing body of both baseball and softball, there is a major push for both sports to be included in the Tokyo 2020 games, where the two sports are very popular.

–          WNT: With several sports campaigning to seek a place on the Tokyo 2020 program, softball and baseball are considered a favorite to be chosen when the IOC makes a decision at its session at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games.

–          WNT: Funding of USA Softball has been nearly eliminated after the IOC decision; The Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America currently funds the program for the Women, Men, Junior Women and Junior Men’s National Team programs.

 

6-27-2014 Looking Ahead with Craig Cress

THE ROAD AHEAD WITH CRAIG CRESS

 

In a wide-ranging, 90 minute interview with Spy, on the margins of the Women’s College World Series, Executive Director Craig Cress sought to advance his positive outlook and to quell several rumors, particularly the rumor that he wants to return ASA to its slow pitch roots.  Not only is Cress a former baseball player who has played and umpired fast pitch, he says the future of ASA is with youth – and he sees youth fast pitch as the growth area for softball.  The main emphasis in the interview however was on the road ahead, and Cress, whom I have known for many years, is as always forward looking and optimistic.

 

 

The biggest challenge, says Craig Cress, reviewing his first year as the new executive director of ASA/USA Softball, is communications with a very diverse audience – not just with his Executive Board or the nearly 100 commissioners and directors who oversee vast parts of the domestic softball world, but with the players, coaches and managers who are the embodiment of the sport – fast and slow pitch.

 

There are so many levels and personalities, Cress sees a central task as ensuring that all ASA components receive and adhere to the same message.

 

Several observations are critical to this assessment.

 

Cress evinces a major change in ASA’s down-the-line attitude toward competition.  Cress considers competition good for all – ASA, PGF, USSSA, etc.  I reminded him of problems caused by ASA officials below the level of Executive Director (including remarks made in meetings observed by Spy).  A family illness kept him away from the 2013 NFCA national convention, where he had hoped to attend the travel ball caucus, but he affirmed his commitment to attend in 2014.  He wants to get to know the travel ball community.  His predecessor, Ron Radigonda,  attended to the benefit of ASA and travel ball.

 

While national team tryouts and participation will continue to be limited to players who have competed in ASA sanctioned tournaments, a major sticking point with the travel ball community, Cress said players can compete in ASA as well as other organizations and be considered for national team recruitment.

 

All those who sponsor tournaments, ASA included, have to offer a product people want, Cress added.  While he sees ASA appealing more to the masses, Cress said ASA will continue to reach out to elite players, eg, for Gold nationals.  And for the inaugural ASA 16 Gold.  He believes ASA has an advantage in central locations at all levels; he believes ASA has done a good job in his year aboard with ASA Gold qualifiers.

 

Cress agrees with many softball observers that tournaments have become too large, not just at the so-called exposure tournaments but in ASA and other competition.  A field of 96 teams is just too large, which is why 16 Gold will be limited to 48 teams.  And, 18 Gold will remain at 64.

 

Cress does not want any area to expand at the sufferance of another; he wants to see measurable progress in several areas which he concedes have been lagging. Like women’s majors.  We reminisced over a few great teams from the past of women’s majors, and showdowns which featured stars like Michelle Smith, Lisa Fernandez and Dot Richardson – plus a rafter of stars fielded by the Brakettes.  Cress evidenced an understanding of the hurdles faced by women’s majors – expenses, travel away from new jobs and families, facilities.  He showed no inclination to breathing new life into 23-Under.  ASA can provide facilities, umpires and balls for women’s majors, but will not pay stipends or travel costs, eg, a tournament in Mexico.

 

Cress is unsure of the participant ceiling on post-college softball – national teams, pro teams, women’s majors, ie, now many women want to play beyond college.  Cress is concerned that the product is diminishing.  He is determined to seek that level.

Many of those same challenges confront youth softball.    Cress realizes the financial burdens of youth softball are borne by parents – from the time their daughters play T-ball up to and usually including college –and by organized team activities.  And, he recognizes that travel ball is a path to college.  However, like many others, Cress is concerned that travel ball has gotten to be a big business, and worries about the quality of the product.  He has heard the concerns of college coaches about the time allocated to travel ball tournaments and the drain on budgets, and he understands why some college coaches prefer their own camps (which he is astute enough to realize that campus clinics transfer money from parents to colleges in lieu of travel ball tournaments).  The level of instruction, he realizes, varies from camp to camp and tournament to tournament, and urges greater focus on the quality rather than the quantity of instruction.  ASA did not take a formal position with NCAA on the various suggestions by some in NFCA who want to restrict the college/travel ball recruiting calendar, but would respond if asked.  There are other issues with respect to youth sports, eg, aggressive parents who cloud the picture with coaches and recruiting.

 

Cost is also very much a factor in international competition.  The budget for equipping the Bill Barber Park facility in Irvine for televising the upcoming IX World Cup is $300,000, almost all of it borne by General Tire and outside resources, with some contribution by ASA.  General Tire has come aboard as the principal sponsor but SPY does not know what expenses General Tire will cover.  SPY understands that the eight participating teams are responsible for their expenses.

 

Expenses for Team USA, which includes playing in Canada and Italy as well as the International Cup in the Netherlands, are traditionally paid in part by the USOC, and in part by funds earned through the tours and camps, and some ASA funds.  Team USA players receive daily per diem in addition to expenses.  Stipends were paid during Olympic years and USA winning teams were given $25,000 per player by USOC.

 

Cress participated in the inaugural congress of the World Baseball Softball Confederation, along with Dale McMann, the new president of the International Softball Federation.  Cress came back from Tunisia with a heightened sense of support building for softball and baseball to return to the Olympic program in 2020, not least because Japan is the host and both sports are wildly popular in Japan.  More, Japan has the facilities to host both.  A decisive vote on 2020 will be held by IOC in December. Some in IOC would like to add at least two more sports; Cress noted that IOC head Thomas Bach wants to keep the number of athletes level; more, Bach says some so-called winter sports should be moved to the fall, that the Winter Olympics should focus on events which require ice and snow.  Cress is encouraged that cities in the US are considering bids for the 2024 Games.

 

The IOC now recognizes WBSC as the spokeman for both sports; and they will no longer have separate seats at the IOC table.  But, McMann is the vice president for softball and will be heard.  Baseball and softball will continue to receive separate non-government organization allotments from the International Olympic Committee, which in the past has not directly benefitted the USA program budget but does support the international tournaments played by the USA.  Don Porter is out of ISF and WBSC but could be an informal liaison.  Cress said ISF headquarters will remain in Plant City, Florida.  No plans have been finalized for an executive director to manage day-to-day ISF activities.  (Recent Spy inquiries have been rerouted to Lausanne, where WBSC has its headquarters.)

 

Cress intends to travel with Team USA to the international tournament in Holland (we discussed my many trips to Holland which was used as a base for other kinds of activities).  Cress is fully aware of Spy’s repeated assertion that there should be a different director of national teams; we did not discuss personalities but Cress did say all employees are subject to review.

 

All in all, a pleasant free-wheeling discussion between two old friends.

 

As much as anything else, I appreciated his openness to competition, and his belief that the challenge for ASA is not to limit or squelch that competition but to offer a better product.

 

Rayburn Hesse