'Best Softball In The World' On Display Between Team USA, NPF
Several of the best softball players in the world were gathered in one place over the weekend for fans in attendance in Rosemont, Ill. and those streaming online to enjoy. Those players, representing both the National Pro Fastpitch and USA Softball, took the field at the Ballpark at Rosemont for an exhibition series that revealed just how deep the softball talent pool is in the United States.
The series saw Team USA take on the USSSA Pride and Chicago Bandits—the NPF's oldest franchises—and it was as good as advertised. The U.S. women's national team, featuring players who are both current and former NPF stars, split its two-game series against the Pride and took two of three from the Bandits.
"I truly believe that this weekend’s competition was great for the sport and it showed how deep the talent is in the United States. I think [the talent] is probably the deepest it’s ever been," said NPF color analyst Barb Jordan, who was in the broadcast booth for the weekend series. "I thought overall it was the best softball in the world."
It's no secret that the U.S. has historically been the dominant force in the sport of softball. The Americans, who currently possess the top-ranked national team in the world, have captured three gold medals and one silver in the sport's four Olympic appearances to date. The college game in the U.S. is also a shining example of the growth of softball in America, as well as its undeniable popularity. Following the most recent Women's College World Series, ESPN reported record-breaking viewership totals for college softball in 2019.
"Everything at the grassroots level to the collegiate level to the pro level shows just how skilled these women are and how this sport has grown," Jordan added. "I think we see that across the board."
With an abundance of American softball talent on display all weekend, it's clear that Team USA's coaching staff will have some tough decisions to make ahead of the final roster announcement for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. With the U.S. Olympic squad still set to be named, it won't be a surprise if some of the NPF players who were on the field against Team USA this weekend earn a spot on the Olympic team later this year.
"For the NPF to pick up two wins [against Team USA], it definitely made a statement," said Jordan. "When Coach Eriksen threw Monica Abbott and Cat Osterman [in game five of the weekend], it showed [Team USA was] playing to win. There’s a wealth of talent. It’s just a fact."
Regardless of who represents Team USA at the 2020 Summer Games, there is no doubt that softball will continue its rise in the U.S. at multiple levels within the sport.
"The women in this game who are playing at this level are so highly skilled and talented," Jordan stated. "They have all the tools. It’s exciting for softball."