May-Johnson Blogs With USA Softball

June 11, 2012

Editor’s Note — Follow former Hawkeye and current UI assistant coach Stacy May-Johnson as she competes as a member of the USA Softball Team. Fans can also follow May-Johnson on Twitter at @StacyMayJohnson.

Photo Gallery

July 22, 2012
Japan was able to beat Australia this morning to get into the gold medal game. Ueno pitched the game vs. Australia, and we knew that they would come right back with her in the gold medal game. We thought that with her pitch count being so high, she might leave some pitches out over the plate, but we were wrong about that.

The gold medal game was a pitcher’s duel from start to finish. There were no runs scored in regulation as both pitchers were on fire, Ueno for Japan, and Keilani Ricketts for USA. Japan had very few opportunities to score, and we had even fewer. I don’t recall any runners getting to third base in the first seven innings for either team.

Here I am warming up for our game against Japan.

In the eighth inning, we went to international tie breaker. With one out and a runner on second in the eighth inning, Japan’s best hitter stepped to the plate. She hit a shot, which was carrying over the center field fence. Our center fielder, Michelle Moultrie (Florida, 2012) sprinted straight back and caught the ball at full extension on the other side of the fence. As she caught the ball, she slammed into the waist high fence and the ball rolled to the end of her glove, but she was able to hang on and throw the ball in. The runner at second was so surprised by the catch that she wasn’t even able to tag up and get to third. We ended up getting out of the inning, but we were unable to score in the bottom half of the inning so we went to the ninth. Japan put up one run in the top of the ninth, but we answered with a run with two outs and two strikes in the bottom of the inning. In the top of the 10th, Japan squeezed a run home, and we were unable to match their run in the 10th. The final score was 2-1. Although the game was very well played on both sides, we were very disappointed to have lost the championship game.

It was sad to see our summer end in a loss, but I think we left it all out on the field, which is all I could ask for.

July 21, 2012
Going into tonight’s game, we were only two wins away from being world champions! Although this is an exciting thought, we know the road ahead of us will go through Japan at least one if not two times. We feel confident that we have the edge over Japan because one through nine, we have a better team. But softball is always equalized by pitching, and Japan has one of the best pitchers in the world. I can’t tell you what her first name is, but her last name is Ueno and that’s what everyone calls her.

Ueno throws about 70mph on a consistent basis. She doesn’t move her ball very well, but she hits her spots and had a pretty good change-up. Most people want to compare her to Monica Abbot, but after hitting off them both, I don’t think they are all that similar except that they both throw hard. Monica Abbot throws hard and moves her ball well, but she puts more pitches over the plate than Ueno. Ueno throws hard, does not move the ball, but she rarely gives hitters anything they can hit. She is a classic Japanese pitcher in that she works the ball in and out, always nibbling at the corners. If the umpire gives her pitches off the plate on either the inside or the outside, you can bet that she won’t throw a pitch that touches the plate all game. The scouting report says that if you see a ball over the plate it is a change-up, and this is exactly what we saw in the first inning of tonight’s game.

We were the visiting team, and we jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning off of a Lauren Gibson (Tennessee, Senior) solo home run. Lauren hit the ball over the center field fence on a change-up, which neutralized the change-up for the rest of the game. In fact, we only saw about three more change-ups and most of those weren’t until the later innings. Japan came back and tied the game up at 1-1 so we headed to extra innings.

In the eighth inning, we went to international tie breaker. Our first batter of the inning, Christie Orgeron (Louisiana Lafayette, 2012) hit a shot over the center fielder’s head to score the first run. Lauren Gibson came back with her second hit of the game, a double to drive Orgeron in. Other than the home run in the first inning, these were the only really hard hit balls of the game. The score ended up being 3-1, which put us directly into the gold medal game.

After seeing Japan play tonight, I have a suspicion that we will see them tomorrow night in the gold medal game. They will have to play Australia tomorrow morning to make it to the gold medal game tomorrow afternoon. Unfortunately, tonight’s win won’t mean anything for us going into tomorrow night’s gold medal game, since it is a winner take all game.

July 20, 2012
We opened medal play today with a game against the host country, Canada. We’ve had several games against Canada this summer and none of them have been close, but Canada brought in their `ringers’ for the world championship. Canada has three players that play in the pro league and all three made the trip up to White Horse. Their centerfielder (Caitlin Lever, Georgia Tech, 2007), plays for the North Carolina Diamonds, their shortstop (Jen Salling, Washington, 2010) plays for the USSSA Pride, as does their pitcher (Danielle Lowry, Washington, 2010). Lowry is the ace of the Canadian staff, and we were expecting a tough game from Canada with her on the mound.

A good look at Coach Erickson and the crowd during our game vs. Canada

With Canada being the host country, we expected the crowd to be against us. They certainly wanted Canada to win, but they were very friendly. Even with the crowd firmly in our opponent’s favor, we jumped out to a two-run lead in the third inning, but Canada came right back and tied the game up at two. We added two more runs to the score in the fifth inning, which led to a final score of 4-2. Canada had chances to score, but we were able to hold them off to win the game.

Tomorrow night we play our rival, Japan. It will be a tough game!

July 19, 2012
We had our final pool play game against Argentina and won by a final score of 14-1. We gave up our only run of the tournament so far in the first inning. The run was unearned after a couple of mistakes on defense. I’m confident that we will clean those things up for the medal round, which start tomorrow.

The top four teams from each bracket move on. Here are the final standings:

Pool A:
1. USA
2. China
3. Netherlands
4. Puerto Rico

Pool B:
1. Japan
2. Canada
3. Australia
4. Chinese Taipei

Puerto Rico was a surprise in the fourth spot of Pool A. Most of us thought Venezuela would grab that fourth spot. Other than that, things played out as most people would have predicted. Here are today’s matchups:

1. (A3) Netherlands vs. (B4) Chinese Taipei (loser eliminated)
2. (B3) Australia vs. (A4) Puerto Rico (loser eliminated)
3. (A1) USA vs. (B2) Canada (loser plays winner of Netherlands vs. Chinese Taipei)
4. (A2) China vs. (B1) Japan (loser plays winner of Australia vs. Puerto Rico)

The winners of games three and four will wait to see who comes out of the loser’s bracket.

Great team picture!

July 18, 2012
Our first game today was against China. We came out hot and China made a ton of mistakes on defense, which led to a final score of 13-0. This was exactly the kind of statement we wanted to make. Val Arioto had a great game, driving in six runs with two outs (two-run single and a grand slam). We are tough to beat when she hits this well because it seems like the runners in front of her are always on base. China is a good team, so this was a great win for us.

Our second game was against the Netherlands, who is also very good. We played a tight game. The score was scoreless through four innings and only 1-0 after five innings. We actually hit the ball well, but Netherlands made a lot of great defensive plays, so hats off to them. Amanda Chidester added a three-run home run in the sixth inning to give us some insurance and the final score was 4-0. Jordan Taylor started the game, and she threw her best game of the summer, while Jackie Traina finished the game out. Jackie also threw extremely well. I think this game was a great test for our team, and we held up very well to the challenge.

The softball was very exciting today, but perhaps the most exciting part of the day was a game of catch we played with a fox. We were driving back to the hotel when we spotted a fox running into a parking lot, so we followed it. We chased the fox around the parking lot for about five minutes in an attempt to take pictures. The fox didn’t seem to mind, although he would not pause for the picture. We thought he had had enough of our games when took off in the opposite direction of our car, but then we realized that he had merely spotted a delicious dinner of squirrel and took off after it (don’t worry, he never caught it). We managed to get back on his tail and the chase culminated with four laps around a small shed. Very exciting stuff.

Here is a super cool Fourth of July picture! Val Arioto is on the left and I am on the right

July 17, 2012
Rain out! Since we didn’t play today, we will have a doubleheader tomorrow against the two toughest teams in our bracket, China and the Netherlands. Blog to resume tomorrow!

July 16, 2012
We played South Africa today…our weakest opponent to date. The final score was 17-0 after three innings, and it could have been worse if we had tried to run the score up. I got the day off, except to pinch run for Keilani Ricketts (who might be faster than I am). One thing that is consistent about all of our opponents is that they play as if they have nothing to lose, which makes them dangerous. Even South Africa down by 17 runs came out swinging hard in the last three outs of the game, and they ended up with two hits in the last inning. Any opponent who plays this way is dangerous.

We are looking forward to our game against China tomorrow. China is one of the two toughest teams in our pool, the other being the Netherlands. China has a reputation for having very good pitching, so we will need to play well to win that game.

After our game today vs. South Africa, we went over to the practice fields to get a practice in before tomorrow’s game against China. We saw slow pitching vs. South Africa, so we worked on hitting faster pitching at practice. It was great preparation, and I feel ready to go for our game tomorrow.

Here is a look at one of the Australian pitchers. Crow hopping is LEGAL in international play.

July 15, 2012
Today we had a 2:00 p.m. game against Puerto Rico, which we won by a score of 10-0… yet another easy win. It is easy to be lulled to sleep by all of the easy games instead of competing hard in every game from start to finish. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not as if we ever find ourselves not playing hard, it’s that there must be a sense of urgency on every pitch and in every at bat. Otherwise, we will find ourselves in a close game where we can only wish we had taken advantage of earlier opportunities. We have made a point as a team to play every game as if it’s our last, regardless of the opponent.

International competition is very interesting because we play a wide range of opponents. There are days where we face pitching in the low 50s and there are other days where we see pitching in the low 70s. One of the challenges of playing at this level is to be able to adjust timing on a game-to-game basis. From a pitching standpoint, we want to work hard to throw our game and get batters to swing at our pitches. There is typically one player per team who we identify as the hitter that we do not want to let beat us. What I mean by that is that if there is a runner at second in the bottom of the seventh in a tie game, we will typically walk this one hitter and make a different player beat us. Other than that, our pitchers don’t change much based upon our opponents.

Although international softball is very different from my experience in the pro league, in that the pro league competition is strong every day, international competition provides its own set of challenges.

Here is a picture of our team at practice in Whitehorse. The practice fields are all dirt, a far cry from what we are used to. Don’t worry, the game fields have grass outfields.

Here I am receiving a ball at third base at practice in Whitehorse.

July 13, 2012
We opened up the World Championships today against Venezuela with a 7-0 win. We hit four home runs, and Keilani Ricketts threw a great game. Every game is important here, so we really wanted to start off with a win.

After our game, we attended the opening ceremonies. All 16 teams were present and all the big wigs made speeches following the presentation of all of the teams. Since softball is no longer an Olympic sport, the World Championships are the biggest event in the world.

Here is the tournament format. There are 16 countries at the World Championships, and we are split into two pools:

Czech Republic
Puerto Rico
South Africa

New Zealand
Chinese Taipai
Great Britain

Everyone plays one game per day until we have played all seven teams in our pool. From there, the qualifying teams will move on to pool play. We have our eyes set on gold in the biggest event in the world!

July 9, 2012
Today we had the championship game of the Canada Cup vs. Japan. We went down by four runs, but we battled back late in the game to take it to extra innings. Unfortunately, we made costly errors in extra innings and ended up losing by a score of 9-6. Normally six runs would beat Japan, but we were not clean enough in our pitching and defense to win the game.

This was our first loss of the year, and it is a good chance to regroup and focus on what we can do better in the upcoming World Championships. World Championships begin on Friday and this is our biggest tournament of the year. We have been working toward this up until this point and it is the tournament we want to win. We have a couple of travel/practice days coming up, so I will pick back up at World Championships! Can’t wait!

July 8, 2012
Today was the first day of the medal round. We were the first seed and Australia was the fourth seed, so we played to see who would make the gold medal game. Our bats were not as lively as usual, so we had to play some defense to win the game. We jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning and added one more run late in the game. The score of 2-0 would hold, but not before some exciting defense.

There was a collision on a steal of second base between our shortstop (approx. 155 pounds) and Australia’s tank of a third basemen (approx. 195 pounds). Surprisingly, our shortstop won the collision and stopped the tank dead in her tracks. She never made it to the base, so she was out at second. This play ended up being crucial, as the next batter singled up the middle on a ball that surely would have scored a runner from second.

There was also a crucial play at the plate on an error in the outfield where our catcher blocked the runner off and applied the tag. Overall, it was a good defensive game.

The gold medal game will be tomorrow night, and we fully expect to play Japan.

July 7, 2012
Today was our toughest day of competition yet. We had a Saturday day game against Canada followed by a game against Japan, arguably the second and third best teams in the world. Obviously, the crowd was very pro Canada, but surprisingly, they were also very pro Japan. I can’t explain why everyone wants Japan to win, but it’s a reminder that when we leave American soil, the cards will be stacked against us.

The Canada game was a trouncing which we won in five innings by a score of 14-2. We really hit the ball well in the last couple of innings, but 14 runs is a great showing against a team like Canada.

If you’ve never seen Japan play, they have a really unique style. They are extremely fast throughout their lineup and are an excellent defensive team. They use their team speed to make plays on defense and rarely make any errors. I’ve heard they practice for 8-10 hours a day, and it shows in their defensive fundamentals. Offensively, they all bunt very well and will use short game on any count and in any situation. Their batters work to keep the ball on the ground in order to give their speed a chance to cause trouble. Their pitching is very precise. They nibble on the corners, keeping the ball down and they rarely leave a pitch over the plate other than change-ups, which they put over the plate and just below the knee forcing groundouts.

Japan jumped out to a 2-0 lead, but we answered with a run in the bottom of the second on a Sam Fisher RBI single. We took the lead back a couple of innings later on another two-run Sam Fisher single. We added one more run late in the game (on a Sam Fisher rbi double, of course) to make the score 4-2. We ended up needing that run because Japan scored on a past ball in the sixth inning. We won the game by a final score of 4-3. I LOVE beating Japan.

Our road to winning World Championships will be even more difficult because Japan does not show their best pitcher until Gold Medal games. Ueno is one of the top pitchers in the world with a great mix of pitches, including a great change-up. She rarely pitches, so we haven’t seen many at-bats against her, and it makes it a lot harder to pick up the change. On top of that, she is an excellent defender. We are happy to get the first win against Japan, but the road will be more difficult in the future.

July 6, 2012
We had two games today. The first was against Puerto Rico, which we won by a score of 8-0, and the highlight of the game was Valerie Arioto’s two home runs! This was our second game against Puerto Rico (the other was in Oklahoma City), and I think we had a little bit better showing this time around.

The second game was against Australia, and we won by a score of 7-0. Keilani Ricketts pitched for us, and she threw a great game. Australia is one of the better hitting teams so a 7-0 shutout is a really quality win. The most exciting play of the game was a double down the left field line that the runner tried to stretch into a triple. Our left fielder hit her cut with a strike, and the cut threw the ball to me at third base. After a back hand pick, I applied the tag and she was out! Sweet play!

Canada is a great place to be, but I can’t get over how expensive everything is. I went to Vancouver while I was in college and everything was expensive back then but the exchange rates were a lot better. If I remember correctly, we got about 1.5 Canadian dollars for every one American dollar, so although things were more expensive, it did not cost any more. Now, we get one Canadian dollar for 1 American dollar and the prices are a lot higher here. I have a heart attack every time I see my food bill. If I’m able to survive all of these heart attacks, I will be excited to get back to the U.S. in a couple of weeks!

July 4, 2012
Happy Fourth of July from Canada! This is the first time in my life that I’ve spent Independence Day in another country, and it’s a little different.

We are glad to be in Canada, and we got a very warm recognition of Independence Day from our Canadian friends and neighbors during the Canada Cup opening ceremony.

We also had a softball game today! It was a little more exciting than we would have liked, but we won. And like our coaches say, sometimes you have to win ugly. We beat Venezuela in the ninth inning by a score of 5-4. Although we had 10 hits in nine innings, we were unable to break the game open. We had a lot of baserunners, but we couldn’t seem to get that big hit with runners on to take the game out of reach. Our pitchers struggled to find their footing on a new mound, but they kept the innings under control and kept the score close.

We will get a good night’s sleep and get ready for our doubleheader tomorrow!

Oklahoma City blog
We just finished up an incredible week in Oklahoma City at the World Cup of Softball, and I have a lot to share. But before I start, I know what you are thinking…what happened to my World Cup blog? Well, here is the deal… I didn’t do it. I have a long list of excuses, but I’ll spare you all. I hope you can all find it in your hearts to forgive me.

Our week at the World Cup started with a very special game – an exhibition game vs. Canada, which honored the 40th anniversary of Title IX. We were all so honored to have a game on ESPN on such a special occasion. Every young lady on our team continues to reap the benefits of Title IX, so we gladly played a game to honor 40 years of the legislation that changed our lives.

ESPN decided to mic me for the game so they could use some audio for the broadcast. I didn’t see broadcast, but I heard that they used an audio clip where I talked about how I didn’t even notice the microphone while I was playing. Really? That’s the most interesting thing I said all game? I thought, surely, I am a more interesting personality than that, but I may have overestimated myself. I (and certainly ESPN) made a special note to have someone else mic’d up next time.

More seriously, the game was a great start for our team. We run ruled Canada in five innings and kicked off our season the right way. Bradi Wall, the only Canadian member of the Iowa softball team, informed me via text that she was not happy to hear about the outcome of the game, but everyone else I know was pretty happy that we won, so I have determined that Bradi must be wrong.

After the Title IX game, we had four days until our next game. We had several great practices over the course of these four days and were able to implement a lot of defensive schemes, which we will use in Canada. We played a lot of people at a lot of different positions because our lineup is constantly changing, and we certainly don’t know what our gold medal game lineups will be, so we need to be prepared for all scenarios. In addition to defensive schemes, we got a ton of swings in. This offensive work was crucial as many of us did not have the luxury of coming off the collegiate season. Those of us who prepare on our own typically need more swings than the players who just finished their collegiate seasons, but I think we all benefit from high level batting practice.

The World Cup started on Thursday, June 28, and ended on Monday, July 2. There were six teams at the tournament (USA, Canada, Netherlands, Australia, Puerto Rico, Brazil), and we played everyone one time in order to determine who would play in the medal games. We went 5-0 in pool play, which put us in the gold medal game on Monday, July 2, vs. Australia. Although we had five wins, they did not all come in an easy fashion. We had trouble scoring runs at times and our defense was suspect in the Australia game. Our solid rock was our pitching. If I remember correctly, our pitching staff gave up two runs over six games (including the gold medal game), and they had less than five walks in the tournament. That is pretty impressive. It’s hard to lose when the other team doesn’t score.

Australia got the bid to play us in the gold medal game, but we quickly put their hopes down by jumping out to a two run lead in the first inning. We added to the lead later in the game and won by a final score of 3-0, but because Australia was unable to get anything going offensively, the win felt more decisive than three runs. We were happy to win gold in Oklahoma City, but we believe that we need to get parts of our game going a little better if we want to win a world championship.

On to the Canada Cup in Vancouver!

June 22, 2012
After a couple of days off, our team arrived in Oklahoma City today! We are so excited to start our season, especially in a venue as great as Oklahoma City’s ASA Hall Of Fame Stadium.

Once everyone got into town, we had a 6-9 p.m. evening practice at Oklahoma City University. Wow! They have a great facility. They a perennial powerhouse in NAIA softball and have the facility to match their achievements. Thank you OKCU for letting us practice at your beautiful stadium.

After practice, we went back to the hotel to get a great night’s rest. Tomorrow is game day and the 40th anniversary of Title IX. We are so honored to be a part of an ESPN event which honors Title IX. I can’t wait for tomorrow!

June 18 & June 19, 2012
We were scheduled to have a doubleheader tonight, but due to severe storms we only played a single game. The scheduled start time was 6 p.m., but we didn’t start playing until closer to 9. We played an eight inning game, which we won 1-0 in walk-off fashion. Sam Fisher (Loyola (Calif.), 2012) hit a walk-off solo home run in the bottom of the eighth inning. It was a great ending to a great trip.

After the games, we signed autographs for about 45 minutes and left the field a little after midnight. After a long evening, I got my bags packed and finally hit the sack. Some of my teammates had a 3:30 a.m. shuttle to the Cleveland airport, but luckily I was on the 7:15 a.m. bus.

We are all going our separate ways for a few days, but we will meet back up in Oklahoma City on Friday. I will pick my blog back up on Friday. Over and out!

P.S. — Our first ESPN game is on Saturday, June 23! The World Cup will begin on ESPN a few days later. 🙂

June 17, 2012
All we had today was a morning hitting and defensive practice and an evening team meeting going over signals.

‘No, I will not tell you our signals! You will just have to try to figure them out for yourselves,’ she said with an evil laugh.

Congrats to Webb Simpson for winning the U.S. Open!

Heat up 2-1 on the Thunder. A must win coming up for the Thunder!

June 16, 2012
After a few long days in West Virginia, we got back on the bus to drive to Ohio this morning. On the drive to West Virginia, I was ill-prepared for all of the twists and turns that the bus would take. On the way back to Ohio, however, I was NOT going to be unprepared. Armed with a brand new pack of dramamine (anti-nausea medicine) and a Red Box copy of Kung Fu Panda 2, I got on the bus for the five hour ride to Ohio.

The drive was much more enjoyable this time around, and we even got the afternoon and evening off. Great stuff. The U.S. Open is heating up! Jim Furyk is putting like a champion. I love when golf is in prime time!

June 15, 2012
After last night’s doubleheader, we got a little bit of sleep, but not enough. We were back on the bus this morning at 9:15 a.m. on our way to do a youth clinic. We worked for three hours at the clinic where we instructed, did demos, and signed more autographs.

After the clinic, we ate lunch and then headed back to the field for hitting practice. Mike White threw gas down the middle of the plate and helped us all hit the ball real far, which made us all feel really good! If only it were that easy in the game!

After practice, we had a little team excursion. We went out to a local lake and took a beautiful 30 minute boat ride. West Virginia is mountainous so the lake was set within some large hills and there were many cliff drop offs on the side of the lake. I heard that cliff diving is illegal, but we saw plenty of cliff divers, anyway. We heard that when the water police drive by the divers, all of the divers sprint into the forrest to avoid getting a ticket. To me, that doesn’t seem like a very good plan, but what do I know.

Our boat tour guide was also a diver who dives for bodies if someone is reported missing, so maybe these cliff divers are keeping him in business?

After the trip to the lake, we had the rest of the evening off. I spent it watching the U.S. Open. Looks like Tiger Woods is back. Only the weekend will tell for sure.

June 14, 2012
Today we had a morning practice where we worked on communication and defense with our new teammates. Everyone seems to be fitting in well, and I think the team looks good.

After practice we went to lunch then to the hotel to relax, but Ashley Holcomb-Bell and I went to the hotel parking lot and hit some balls off of a tee.

Our evening saw two night games vs the U.S. Elite team. We didn’t have the bats going in the first game and had a couple of mistakes in the circle, which gave the Elite Team a couple of runs. This left us tied 2-2 going into extra innings, but the Elite team put up three more in the eighth and ended up winning, 5-2.

The second game was a different story. Our bats were alive, and we came out sharp. We routed the Elite team by a score of 9-0, a much better showing.

After the game we signed autographs, got some food, and finally got to bed close to 1:00 a.m. Ahhh, the life of an athlete!

June 13, 2012
Today is a travel and rest day. We are driving from Ohio to West Virginia for an exhibition game against the USA Elite Team tomorrow night. The drive should take about five hours, and we have a banquet scheduled in the evening, so other than a few swings in the hotel parking lot on my own, there won’t be any softball today. This is probably a good thing after all the ball we played the last three days.

Although the drive isn’t too long, these hilly West Virginia roads wind a lot. I would love some anti-nausea medicine right about now.

June 12, 2012
The final day of tryouts have concluded and that means that we have five new teammates… well, four new teammates and one old teammate. The following five players have been named to the National Team:

Jackie Traina, P (Alabama, Junior)
Jessica Schultz, C (Oklahoma, Senior)
Sam Fisher, SS (Loyola (Calif.), 2012)
Amanda Chidester, 1B & C (Michigan, 2012)
Christie Orgeron, OF (Louisiana-Lafayette, 2012)

The first four are brand new members to Team USA, but Christie Orgeron was a member of the National Team in 2011, and we are glad to have her back.

Now that the team has been named, we need some practice to get to know our new members and to get reacquainted with old teammates. I’m looking forward to getting back on the field!

I stayed up late tonight to catch the end of Game 1 of the NBA Finals… go Thunder!

June 11, 2012
It’s day two at tryouts and that means that scrimmages started. We played a total of four ‘games’ today. All position players were split up into two teams, but the pitchers are independent of any team. One game consists of 12 at-bats (one at-bat per player). There are eight pitchers and a total of eight games, so each pitcher ends up throwing two total games, one to each team. When all is said and done, I will have had one at-bat off of every pitcher here.

There is a lot of great pitching so we all had some tough at-bats today. These are the pitchers who are here (most of them have been to the Women’s College World Series so you probably recognize them from television):

Sara Nevins (South Florida)
Chelsea Thomas (Missouri)
Keilani Ricketts (Oklahoma)
Ellen Renfroe (Tennessee)
Jordan Taylor (Michigan, 2011)
Dallas Escobedo (Arizona State)
Jolene Henderson (California)
Jackie Traina (Alabama)

Overall, it’s a tough group so when we face them only one time, it’s difficult to make adjustments. The first day of scrimmages saw a few good hits, but it was more about the pitching than the hitting.

Tomorrow will be more of the same format, so I’m pumped to get back out there! This is a great opportunity for me to get back into a groove, so I have to make every opportunity count!

June 10, 2012
After a long break from the national team, we are finally back on the field again. Each of us traveled from our respective homes yesterday to get to Ashland, Ohio, just in time for the national team tryout, which started today.

This year’s tryout is a little different from past years because there are only five spots up for grabs. The other 12 players have already been officially selected. We will all compete at the tryout, regardless of what our status with the team is. There are a total of 34 athletes here and the top 17 will make the United States National team. The 17 athletes will compete on the Elite team, which will participate in exhibition games against the National Team. The athletes who have already been selected to the team are:

Jordan Taylor, P (Michigan, 2011)
Keilani Ricketts, P (Oklahoma, Senior)
Chelsea Thomas, P (Missouri, Senior)
Ashley Holcomb-Bell, C (Alabama, 2009)
Valerie Arioto, 1B (California, 2012)
Lauren Gibson, 2B (Tennessee, Senior)
Molly Johnson, SS (Kentucky, 2010)
Jenae Leles, 3B (Arizona, 2008)
Stacy May-Johnson (Iowa, 2006)
Rhea Taylor, OF (Missouri, 2011)
Michelle Moultry, OF (Florida, 2012)
Katie Cochran, OF (Arizona State, 2008)

With the five remaining spots on the team, it is possible that the selection committee may select one more pitcher, one more catcher and up to three position players, but this is only a guess.

Our first day of tryouts was made up of a defensive skills session where everyone took balls and made throws from their positions, followed by an easy hit around. The defensive session started off a little rocky since we are playing on a rec field that is a little unpredictable, but after some adjusting we got the hang of it.

It felt great to get back out on the field with my teammates after a long break. Overall it was a great day. Can’t wait to get back at it tomorrow!