Future of USA softball looks bright after promising summer
By KAYLA LOMBARDO
College Contributor Network
On a roster that boasts five collegiate players, with the remainder of the team having graduated within the last two years, it is an understatement to say that this year's Team USA squad was laden with youth. Although they lacked a significant amount of international softball experience, the Americans were able to capture the World Cup of Softball championship, as well as the Italian Softball Week title.
Despite these successes however, Team Japan proved to be the American kryptonite this summer, as Team USA finished second to the Japanese in both the Canadian Open Fastpitch Invitational and the ISF Women's World Championship.
Take a look back at the summer that was for USA Softball.
World Cup IX – Irvine, California (July 7-12)
In the first major tournament of the summer, Team USA won the 2014 World Cup of Softball after defeating Canada 5-2 in the championship game. The red, white, and blue won the tournament for the seventh time in nine years, and went unbeaten with a perfect 7-0 record.
In just her second summer with Team USA, Sara Nevins led the Americans in the pitching circle -- finishing the week with 20 strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings and an ERA of 0.53.
Veteran power-hitter Valerie Arioto belted five home runs with 12 RBI and a 1.400 slugging percentage during the tournament to lead the offensive charge for Team USA. Infielders Raven Chavanne and Lauren Gibson also had productive offensive showings at the tournament. The former college teammates at the University of Tennessee hit a combined .595, going 22-for-37 from the dish with 14 RBI.
Canadian Open FP International – Surrey, B.C., Canada (July 15-21)
Team USA took second place at the Canadian Open Fastpitch International tournament after falling to Team Japan 7-0 in five innings. The Americans finished the week with an overall record of 9-3, and went 3-2 in the playoff portion of the invitational.
After falling to Team Canada 10-6 in the opening round of playoff action, Team USA bounced back with three straight routs over the NJCAA All-Stars, Team Mexico, and Team Canada.
Amanda Chidester paced the American offense, batting .545 during the five games of playoff action, while Raven Chavanne hit a respectable.353 with 6 RBI.
Italian Softball Week – Azzano, Italy (August 6-10)
Despite falling to Australia in the third game of play during Italian Softball week, Team USA bounced back to defeat the Aussies 6-2 in the tournament championship game. The Americans capped off the tournament with a 4-1 record.
American outfielder Michelle Moultrie was named the tournament's offensive champion and MVP after posting a .643 batting average, while Jolene Henderson was recognized as the pitching champion.
ISF Women's World Championship – Haarlem, Netherlands (August 12-24)
Team USA capped off its season with a silver medal in international softball's most prestigious tournament, the 14th annual ISF Women's World Championship in Holland. USA finished with a tournament record of 9-2, after falling to Team Japan and its pitching ace Yukiko Ueno 4-1 in the title game.Japan earned its third world title, and second straight, after ousting America in the championship game.
Team USA concluded the summer with an overall record of 28-6 in international play. Raven Chavanne was the top-hitting American in 2014, after batting .464 for the summer, while Sara Nevins turned in the best overall ERA on the pitching staff at .87.
Kayla Lombardo is a senior at Fordham University. She plays third base for Fordham's softball team and is a passionate New York Yankees fan. Follow her on Twitter: @KaylaLombardo11