OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – It’s a huge step toward fulfilling a dream for former Tennessee Lady Vol pitcher Monica Abbott, as the Amateur Softball Association (ASA), in conjunction with USA Softball, on Monday tabbed the Salinas, Calif., native to the 2008 USA Softball Women’s National Team.
Three players among the current 18-member line-up will eventually be named replacements with 15 nominated to the United States Olympic Committee, prior to July 1, 2008, as the official roster for the 2008 Olympic Games.
The four-year process culminated with last week’s final selection camp in Chula Vista, Calif. The 2008 USA Softball Women’s National Team roster includes 12 players from the 2004 Olympic gold medalists in Athens, Greece, and 15 members of the gold medal-winning 2006 World Championship team.
“Being an Olympian is what I’ve dreamed about since the fifth grade,” Abbott said on Monday. “One of my goals for my softball career was to get to the Olympics, and I’m so fortunate that this selection is helping me to close in on that goal. I’m ready and excited for the opportunity to play alongside an incredible group of players as we get ready for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.”
The squad will kick off a 40-city U.S. Tour titled ‘Bound 4 Beijing’ in February, giving fans all over the United States the opportunity to see the 2008 National Team. The tour will make a stop in Knoxville, Tenn., on April 12 at the new Sherri Parker Lee Softball Stadium to allow Abbott a “homecoming” of sorts as the pitcher will lead the Red, White & Blue against the Tennessee Lady Vols live on ESPN at a time still to be determined.
Over the last two summers, the 6-3 left handed hurler represented her country from the circle with the prestigious U.S. National Team at events such as the World Cup of Softball, the Japan Cup and the ISF Women’s World Championships. During the American squad’s 2007 summer tour, the four-time collegiate All-American led the Red, White & Blue pitching staff with a 6-0 record in 26.2 innings pitched and a 0.00 ERA while twice defeating U.S. archrival Japan. She was third on the team with 46 strikeouts and allowed no extra base hits. In July, Abbott closed out the national team’s efforts at the Pan Am Games in Brazil by hurling a two-hit shutout with eight strikeouts against Canada to secure the gold for Team USA, the program’s sixth-consecutive Pan American gold medal.
Abbott joins Jennie Finch, Lisa Fernandez, Alicia Hollowell and Cat Osterman in formulating the 2008 pitching staff for U.S. Head Coach Mike Candrea.
During her senior season with the University of Tennessee Lady Volunteer softball team, Abbott won the 2007 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year trophy and was named the 2006-2007 Roy F. Kramer SEC Female Athlete of the Year. Also in June, the Salinas, Calif., native won the prestigious Honda Award for Softball after registering a national-best 50-5 overall record during her senior campaign with a 0.68 ERA and 29 shutouts to go along with a NCAA Division I single-season record 724 strikeouts. Abbott led her team to the 2007 Women's College World Series, a runner-up national finish, and the 2007 Southeastern Conference regular-season title. She ended the 2007 season having set new NCAA Division I career records for wins (189), strikeouts (2,440), shutouts (112), appearances (253) and innings pitched (1448.0). Abbott is also the Lady Vols' first four-time NFCA First-Team Softball All-American, as well as being a three-time Southeastern Conference Pitcher of the Year winner and four-time All-SEC pick.
2008 USA Softball Women’s National Team
Monica Abbott, Salinas, Calif. (University of Tennessee ‘98) – Abbott, the youngest member of the team, is a two-time member of the National Team. She has also competed as a member of the 2004 World University Team and 2003 Junior Team. Abbott led the pitching staff in 2007 with a 6-0 record for a 0.00 ERA. In 26.2 innings pitched, she issued no walks and no earned runs.
Laura Berg, Santa Fe Springs, Calif. (Graduate ’98) – Outfielder Berg is one of two three-time Olympic gold medalist to be selected to the 2008 Women’s National Team. Along with her two Olympic gold medals, Berg has captured gold at four World Championships and three Pan American Games as well as received the honor of carrying the flag during closing ceremonies at the 2007 Pan American Games.
Crystl Bustos, Canyon Country, Calif. (Palm Beach C.C.) – Bustos has established herself as one of the most feared hitters in the World and will look to earn her third Olympic gold medal. The team will look to her for a repeat performance of the ‘04 Games where she broke Olympic records with five homeruns and 10 RBI. She is coming off a 25-RBI summer in 2007 where she had 22 hits with a team-high seven homeruns.
Andrea Duran, Selma, Calif. (UCLA ’06) – Duran makes her third-consecutive appearance on the National Team roster after spending time on the World University, Elite and Junior team rosters. Solid at third base, Duran made an impressive run the past summer including a grand slam at her first Pan American Games. She is also a two-time World Cup Champion as well as 2006 World Champion.
Lisa Fernandez, Long Beach, Calif. (UCLA ’95) – Right-handed pitcher Lisa Fernandez makes her return to the National Team roster after a three year hiatus. She will possibly be making her fourth appearance at the games, one of only two athletes to accomplish this. She has pitched in three Olympic games, including earning the win in the circle of the Gold Medal 5-1 victory over Australia in 2004 as well as a top offensive contributor hitting .545 (12-for-22) at the Games.
Jennie Finch, La Mirada, Calif. (Arizona ’02) – Two-time World Champion Finch will look to become a two-time Olympian, after making the National Team for her seventh consecutive season. Finch has dominated in the circle, even coming back three months after having her son Ace in 2006 to compete the remainder of the season. Finch made two appearances at the ’04 Games, working 8.0 innings with 13 strikeouts.
Tairia Flowers, Tucson, Ariz. (UCLA ’04) – A utility player at first, third and catcher, Flowers has been a solid player for the red, white and blue with six seasons of experience at the National level. The 2004 Olympian emerged this past 2007 leading the team throughout the summer with a batting average of .543 including her first career grand slam at the World Cup of Softball.
Vicky Galindo, Union City, Calif. (Cal ’04) – Galindo has combined speed, power and defensive play to become an all around player and will look to continue that as she looks for a spot at her first Olympic Games. Galindo, seeing time at second and designated player, is coming off an outstanding 2007 where she was second on the team with a .500 (18-for-36) batting average and no errors in the field.
Alicia Hollowell, Suisun, Calif. (Arizona ’06) – Hollowell, in her third-consecutive year on the National team, brings another right-handed pitcher to the pitching staff. Hollowell, earned her first World Championship in 2006. In 15 appearances as a member of the National Team, Hollowell has posted an ERA of 0.19 with a 7-1 record.
Lovieanne Jung, Fountain Valley, Calif. (Arizona ’03) – Second baseman Jung has been a fixture on the National Team level since 2002 when she made her first appearance at the ISF World Championships. She is a two-time World Champion and Pan American Champion and is looking to earn her second-Olympic gold medal after drawing a team-high five walks during the ’04 Games.
Kelly Kretschman, Indian Harbour Beach, Fla. (Alabama ’01) – A 2000 Olympic team alternate and 2004 Olympic team member, Kretschman makes her second-consecutive season on the team roster after a year absence. She came back strong in 2007 hitting .474 (18-for-38) with 13 RBI and 15 runs scored. Kretschman played in all nine games of the 2004 Games and was the only one on the roster to hit at least one single, double, triple and homerun for a .333 average.
Lauren Lappin, Anaheim, Calif. (Stanford ’06) – Lappin, the youngest member of the 2004 National Team at 19, served as an alternate at the 2004 games but will look to compete at the Games this year. Lappin had a stellar return to the National Team roster in 2007, hitting fourth on the team with a .480 (12-for-25) average.
Caitlin Lowe, Tustin, Calif. (Arizona ’07) - Lowe has served as leadoff batter over the past couple seasons for the National Team and will be making her fourth National Team roster. Since 2005, Lowe has contributed 74 hits and scored 60 runs, the third best of the team. She is also 23-25 in stolen bases in 58 games played at the National Team level.
Jessica Mendoza, Camarillo, Calif. (Stanford ’02) – Outfielder Jessica Mendoza has been one of the top run producers on the USA National Team since the 2001 season. In 2006, she played a major role in the U.S. winning its first World Cup as well as its seventh-World Championship title, including hitting the game winning homerun in the Gold Medal game of the World Championships.
Cat Osterman, Houston, Texas (Texas ’06) – Osterman has emerged as one of the best pitchers in the world, defeating some of the world’s top teams. She has earned the start and complete game in the circle in big games including the championship games at both the 2006 World Championships and 2006 and 2007 World Cup.
Jenny Topping, Whittier, Calif. (Cal-State Fullerton ‘03) – Providing depth behind the plate, Topping enters the 2008 National team roster for her seventh season. Topping earned the starting spot as catcher in 2007 with Nuveman out for the season. Topping saw action in four games during the 2004 Olympic Games, going 4-for-6 for a .667 average.
Natasha Watley, Irvine, CA. (UCLA ’03) – A highly recognized shortstop, Natasha Watley joins her seventh National team after an exceptional 2007 season. She hit .466 with 27 hits and a team-high two triples, scoring 21 runs. For her efforts at the Canada Cup, she was named to the All-Tournament team for the shortstop position. She started all nine games at the ’04 Games, tying a team-best 12 hits for a .400 average.