This time U.S. has homefield advantage, 8 returning Olympians and 7 SEC stars
Can the USA Softball Women’s National Team avenge their heartbreaking gold medal loss to Japan in last summer’s Olympics? We’ll find out when the U.S., Japan and teams from 6 other nations compete at The World Games 2022 (TWG 2022) in Birmingham, Alabama this July.
Eight members from the 2020 U.S. Olympic roster who won the silver medal in Tokyo will be on Team USA at TWG 2022, but this time they’ll get the chance to play for gold medal glory on their home turf. Home field advantage could be an even bigger factor than it normally is in sports, as Team USA includes seven current or former players from teams in the Southeastern Conference (SEC) – and they’ll be playing on the same field that serves as the host of the SEC’s annual softball tournament.
One of Team USA’s returning Olympians is Haylie McCleney, who grew up in the Birmingham area and played softball at the University of Alabama where she was a four-time All-American.
“For me to be able to step back into my hometown, put on a Team USA jersey and play in front of my family and friends, I never really thought I’d get another chance to do it, to be honest. I’m really, really excited,” said McCleney.
Joining McCleney on Team USA is another University of Alabama star, pitcher Montana Fouts, who led the NCAA with 349 strikeouts last season and pitched a perfect game at the Women’s College World Series.
Leading the USA Softball Women’s National Team is Head Coach Heather Tarr, the head coach of the University of Washington’s softball team – a 2009 National Champion and the winningest coach of any sport in the university’s history.
“This roster includes both experience and youth, and I truly believe this will be a team that our fans will love to follow as we compete for a gold medal at the 2022 World Games in Alabama this summer,” said Tarr. “I am so excited to see this team in action and we look forward to building on the foundations laid before us as we enter this era of USA Softball.”
The U.S. and Japan won’t be alone, or course, in their quest for gold at The World Games 2022 in Birmingham. National teams from Australia, Canada, Italy, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Chinese Taipei will be looking to knock off top ranked Team USA and Japan. The Italian team is the reigning European champion in Women’s Softball. Earlier this month, the World Baseball Softball Confederation announced that world No. 5 Puerto Rico will replace No. 9 China in The World Games 2022 Softball competition. The Chinese National Softball Team has withdrawn from The World Games due to logistical issues related to the quarantine period required by the Chinese government on the team’s return back home.
The World Games is a multi-sport event staged every four years by the International World Games Association, organised with the support of the International Olympic Committee. The 11th edition of The World Games will be held in Birmingham, Alabama, USA, 7-17 July 2022. 3,600 athletes from 34 sports and over 100 countries will take part in The World Games.