USA Softball on mission in 2020 Summer Olympics

Sports

LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – The 2020 USA Olympic Softball Team practiced at Florida Southern College on Thursday afternoon. The team will compete in the Olympics for the first time since winning a silver medal in the games in Beijing in 2008.

Monica Abbott, who played on the team 12 years ago, is a member of this team. She says she never thought she would get another chance to compete for a gold medal.

“I thought the opportunity was lost,” Abbott said. “I thought softball is out of the Olympics. We won silver. It was a little disappointing. It hurt your heart a little bit being so close but things did not go our way in that last game and it kind of put a bad taste in your mouth, heartbreak, it was like breaking up with your boyfriend. It took you a long time to recover and, 12 years later, on this road again, getting to tour the U.S., having the opportunity to wear U.S.A on my chest, and getting to compete for a gold medal again is an amazing feeling.”

Her coach, Ken Eriksen, joined USA Softball almost two decades ago. He took a leave of absence from his job as the head softball coach at the University of South Florida, which he has held for 23 seasons, to coach this Olympic team.

“We have 18 empowered, great leaders – great female leaders, great empowered women – and I am just hoping I do not screw it up to tell you the truth,” said Eriksen. “These guys are on a mission. They like each other and they play ball really well.”

The team will play in an exhibition game against USF on Tuesday, Feb. 4.

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