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Pan Am Roster Gets USA Softball One Step Closer To Olympics

(Photo courtesy of USA Softball)

When USA Softball announced the roster for this summer's Pan American Games earlier this week, the Americans found themselves yet another step closer to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. The 2019 Pan Am Games, which will be held August 4–11 in Lima, Peru, will serve as a quality tuneup, and a barometer of progress, for Team USA ahead of next summer's Games.

The 15 players who earned a spot on the Pan Am roster include pitchers Monica Abbott, Cat Osterman, Rachel Garcia and Keilani Ricketts, catchers Aubree Munro and Dejah Mulipola, infielders Ali Aguilar, Valerie Arioto, Delaney Spaulding and Kelsey Stewart, outfielders Haylie McCleney, Kirsti Merritt, Michelle Moultrie and Janie Reed, along with utility player Sahvanna Jaquish. Garcia and Mulipola are the only two players on the roster who are still in college.

The three current U.S. women's national team players who were left off the 2019 Pan Am roster are Ally Carda, Jazmyn Jackson and Shelby Pendley. They will serve as replacement players for the tournament.

While the Pan Am roster is not indicative of who will earn the right to represent the U.S. in Tokyo next summer, it provides onlookers with a hint about who is being heavily considered by the U.S. coaching staff for 2020.

“It’s not easy when you have to choose 15 among 18 great athletes,” Team USA head coach Ken Eriksen said in a press release. “The nice part for us is that all 18 will be with us all summer, but it just so happens to be that the roster for the Pan American Games has to be 15. This is a very tight group, and we will use the Pan American Games as a motivator going into the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Trials and then the 2020 tour.”

Team USA, which fell to Canada in the finals of the last Pan Am Games in 2015, is seeking its eighth Pan American gold medal. It has an all-time record of 93–4 at Pan Ams. Canada owns the other two gold medals in the history of the women's tournament, which began in 1979. Aside from the U.S. and Canada, the other countries participating in the tournament include Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Cuba, Belize and the Dominican Republic.

This weekend, Team USA begins play at the Japan All-Star Series in Tokyo and Sendai, Japan. After that, the U.S. squad will return stateside to host the USA Softball International Cup in Columbus, Ga. from July 1–7. Training and exhibition games will subsequently take place for the Americans in Texas before they head to Peru for Pan Ams. The 2019 playing season will conclude for Team USA in Takasaki City, Japan at the Japan Cup, which takes place from August 30–September 1.

Team USA opened its 2019 campaign last week with training camp in Rosemont, Ill. and an exhibition series against the USSSA Pride and Chicago Bandits of the National Pro Fastpitch. USA Softball finished that series with a 3–2 record.

The final roster for the 2020 Olympics will be announced at an undisclosed time later this year.

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