Follow May-Johnson at the USA Softball Team Tryout

Editor’s Note —Follow former Hawkeye and current UI assistant coach Stacy May-Johnson in her quest for a spot on the USA Softball Team. May-Johnson will blog during her week-long tryout at the United States Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif.

Thursday, June 16

Our fourth and final day is complete! I’m sad to be done, but my body is pretty happy to be finished. Despite a lot of time in the ice bath and a lot of hours preparing for this week, I’m still sore, but my body held up pretty well, so I can’t complain.

We had two scrimmages on our last day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. A great week of softball finished up with an awesome last day. There was a lot of great pitching and some great defensive play to go with it. The bats came alive at time with some big hits as well. I think everyone wanted to leave the selection committee with a good final impression. I am happy to say that I had another good day here. It wasn’t perfect, as I made my first error of the week and also had a strikeout, but I was able to snag a line drive for a double play and also hit a double off of reigning national champion pitcher Dallas Escobedo from Arizona State.

I am happy to say although my play was not perfect; I feel that I did exactly what I needed to do to give myself a great chance to make the team. I don’t know how the cards will fall, but either way I’m proud of what I was able to put on the field this week. I had a great time playing ball here at the U.S. Olympic Training Center, and no matter what happens I’m grateful for the opportunity I’ve had this week.

The team will be posted at 11:00 a.m. (CT) Friday, so I am hopeful that there will be great news to report tomorrow morning! Thanks to all of you who followed this!

Wednesday, June 15

Photo Gallery – Day Three

Day three is in the books and it was a long one! Our scrimmage format changed a little today so we spent a lot more time at the field since, instead of one at-bat per scrimmage, we all had two at-bats per scrimmage. Our team faced three new pitchers for a total of six at-bats today. We started off against Whitney Canion from Baylor before facing Keilani Ricketts from Oklahoma and Jen Mineau from Fordham.

Our day at the field began at 8:15 a.m. with our first scrimmage starting a little after 9:00 a.m. Since we are on our third day and the nerves have calmed a little. I wanted to step out on the field and bring my best. I got exactly what I was looking for in our first game. I had a couple of routine balls hit to me at third and made both plays. I also had a big game at the plate with two very hard hit line drives. One went for a double down the third base line and the other was right back at the pitcher (Canion), which tipped off of her glove for a base hit.

Our afternoon session started at 12:30 p.m. and, although we are a little more tired than we were on the first day, we continued to play hard and with a lot of energy. The afternoon included a brief stop at short stop for me, which left me feeling like a fish out of water even though I didn’t get any balls there.

I saw a few more balls at third, which included a screaming ground ball to my forehand, which went in and out of my glove. The ball kicked a few feet away from me so I tried to pick it up and throw the runner out at first but it wasn’t in time. I was able to stay on track offensively with a very hard hit ball to the forehand side of third baseman Brigette Del Ponte (Arizona), who made a great diving catch, got up and threw me out. I had to tip my hat to a great defensive play! I also grounded out to the short stop and struck out looking (oops!), but I finished the day off right with a triple into the right field gap.

We have one day left and only two scrimmages. My remaining chances are limited so I want to give it my best tomorrow!

Tuesday, June 14

Day two of tryouts has concluded, and I am certain that I will sleep like a baby tonight! We had three scrimmages today and it was a lot warmer than yesterday… not that I’m complaining, since the combination of softball and sunshine is always welcome in my book.

Our teams were the same today as they were yesterday. We will keep the same teams all week except that the pitchers switch with each scrimmage. What I think the most challenging aspect of our scrimmage format is that we only see one at-bat off of each pitcher. I have never faced any of the pitchers here, and I only get one look at them, so I don’t get much of a chance to make adjustments at the plate. As long as I take good swings at good pitches there is nothing to worry about.

Today our team hit off of Chelsea Thomas from Missouri (who led Division I softball in ERA this year), Ashley Brignac from Louisiana Lafayette (she brings the heat!), and Megan Langenfeld from UCLA (utility player extraordinaire!). My day saw a walk off of Chelsea Thomas, a fly out to center field off of Brignac, and a ground out to first base to advance a runner off of Langenfeld. Not a terrible day at the plate, but I’m looking to heat it up a little more tomorrow.

The defensive side of my game, however, is red hot right now! I saw two more balls at third base, one of which was a routine ground ball but the other was a challenge. It was a tie game, there was one out in the last inning, and Rhea Taylor (human lightning!) was on third base. A ball was hit hard to my backhand and I was able to field it but Rhea Taylor took off for home plate, so I didn’t have much of an angle to throw the ball home, and she was moving fast. I got rid of the ball as quick as I could and threw the ball inside of the runner and our catcher, Megan May from Oklahoma, did a great job of catching the throw, blocking off the plate, and tagging Rhea out. The play saved our tie ball game!

Tonight before bed I am mentally preparing to maintain my defensive play and to make a statement at the plate tomorrow. With all of the great competition, it won’t be easy, but I’m up for the challenge!

Monday, June 13

Photo Gallery – Day One

I arrived at the United States Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., on Sunday evening, just in time for a meeting with all of the athletes, coaching staff, and committee members. We discussed our schedule for the week and then went to our apartments to get ready for a good night’s sleep. I woke up early Monday morning because I’m still on Central time. The morning weather was a dry, overcast 60 degrees which turned into a sunny 72 degrees by about 11:00 which is perfect weather for softball!

Stacy May-Johnson prepares for an at-bat at the USA Softball Team tryouts.

Our Monday practice began with an 8:30 a.m. skills practice. We started off with an intense warm-up then did some timed base running where I ran next to some of the fastest softball players in the country (I’m not one of them:)). We also took reps and made throws at our respective positions and finished up at about 11:00.

We broke for lunch then came back in the afternoon for two scrimmages. We all saw one at-bat per scrimmage and I played third base. I got three balls at third, and I was able to make all three plays, the most exciting of which was a screaming, low line drive down the line which I caught and threw to second to double a runner off!

I also saw some success at the plate. In my first at-bat I faced a recently graduated Michigan Wolverine in Jordan Taylor. I got a 3-2 change up and put it on the ground in the five-six hole for a base hit. In my second at-bat, I faced Jolene Henderson, a current California Golden Bear, and I hit a high bouncing ground ball to the second baseman, who flipped it to second base for a fielder’s choice. Overall, I was very happy with my performance.

It’s awesome training here at the U.S. Olympic Training Center where so many other excellent athletes from many different sports are also training. I stand in awe when I look around the cafeteria every morning at breakfast to see all of our nation’s top athletes. What a privilege!

Click HERE to read a feature story on May-Johnson leading up to her USA Softball Team tryout.