VSPC is set to host USA, the top-ranked nation in the world, for a training camp from 3-18 March at the Eddie C. Moore Softball Complex in an effort to support USA Softball and the National Team programme, as the squad continues preparations for the highly anticipated Tokyo Olympic Games.
The USA Softball Women’s National Team will take part in a series of workouts and practice sessions, in addition to the three-game series against No. 5 Mexico. The games are part of the Stand Beside Her Tour, presented by Major League Baseball (MLB), and will be the first international competition of the year for the U.S. squad.The Games begin tonight
We’re still three days away from the opening ceremony, but competition at the Tokyo Olympics starts at 8 p.m. ET with a women’s softball game between Australia and host Japan.
Canadian athletes begin competing a few hours later, when the No. 3-ranked women’s softball team faces Mexico at 2 a.m. ET Wednesday. Canada’s women’s soccer team starts its quest for a third consecutive Olympic medal when it takes on Japan at 6:30 a.m. ET. You can watch both those contests live on the CBC TV network, CBC Gem, the CBC Olympics app
The Canadian women’s soccer and softball teams are both strong medal contenders that deserve a deeper dive. Since softball is first out of the gate, let’s take a look at that squad today and circle back to the soccer team in tomorrow’s newsletter.
The sport made its Olympic debut at the 1996 Games in Atlanta — four years after baseball joined in Barcelona. The Olympics now treat them as one sport (officially called baseball/softball), with softball basically considered the women’s version of baseball. There has never been a men’s softball tournament in the Olympics, nor a women’s baseball — despite the fact that those things definitely exist and have been played at the Pan Am Games.
Though they share many common traits, softball and baseball are different sports with different rules. The biggest thing you’ll notice (along with the larger, yellow ball) is that softball pitchers windmill the ball underhand, not overhand. This is easier on the arm but doesn’t produce as much velocity. A good softball pitcher’s fastball can hit 65 mph (about 105 km/h) on the radar gun, while the best baseball pitchers’ top 90 mph (145 km/h). But when you factor in the shorter distance between the plate and the pitcher’s rubber — 43 feet in softball, compared to 60½ feet in baseball — the ball effectively arrives just as quickly from the batter’s standpoint.
Like their baseball counterparts, softball hurlers are capable of putting all kinds of filthy movement on their pitches by employing various grips that produce different spins and velocities. This is another reason why the pitchers you’ll see in the Olympic softball tournament can be just as tough to hit as a major-league star like two-time Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom. And if you’re untrained in deciphering their dark arts? Forget about it. In one famous experiment in 2003, American star Jennie Finch’s diabolical mix of fastballs and changeups proved untouchable for some of the greatest baseball hitters of all time. Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols all struck out against her. Watch Pujols’ attempt at catching up with Finch’s heat.