OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – Consider it a lifelong dream fulfilled for former Tennessee Lady Vol softball pitcher Monica Abbott as the Salinas, Calif., was chosen to the official 15-member roster of the U.S. Women’s Olympic Softball Team according to Friday’s release from USA Softball and the Amateur Softball Association (ASA).
Abbott joins fellow hurlers and prior Olympians Jennie Finch and Cat Osterman in formulating the daunting U.S. pitching staff for head coach Mike Candrea.
Three players among the original 18 selected, Lisa Fernandez, Alicia Hollowell and Jenny Topping, were named as injury replacements while the remaining 15 players will be nominated to the United States Olympic Committee, prior to July 1, 2008, as the official roster for the 2008 Olympic Games.
“I am so honored and thrilled to hear that I’ve passed the final step and am now an official part of the U.S. Olympic Team for Beijing,” Abbott said on Friday afternoon. “This was always one of the major goals I wanted to achieve in my softball career. It’s beginning to sink in now that I’m going to have the chance to experience all that the Olympics have to offer: the competition, the opening and closing ceremonies, the Olympic Village, the camaraderie with athletes from all over the world…all the parts of the Olympic experience that you dream about. I am so excited to join such an amazing group of athletes in China and am so very humbled by my inclusion on this incredible team.”
The Red, White & Blue squad is currently in the middle of a 40-city U.S. Tour titled ‘Bound 4 Beijing,’ providing fans all over the United States the opportunity to see the 2008 National Team. Through March 26th, Abbott has tallied a 3-0 record with a 0.32 ERA and 44 strikeouts over just 22 innings of work as Team USA has posted a 17-1 record. The tour will soon make its stop in Knoxville, Tenn., on April 12 at the new Sherri Parker Lee Softball Stadium, allowing Abbott a “homecoming” of sorts as the pitcher will lead the Red, White & Blue against the Tennessee Lady Vols at 3 p.m. ET.
For more information, updated personal blogs and to keep up with Abbott during her various experiences with the U.S. Women’s National Team, please check out her official website at www.monicaabbott.net/
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.
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. The Women’s Sports Foundation also chose the hurler as its “Team Sport Athlete of the Year.” 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 Olympic Team
Monica Abbott, Salinas, Calif. (University of Tennessee ‘07) – 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 the one three-time Olympic gold medalist to be selected to the 2008 Women’s National Team. Along with her three Olympic gold medals, Berg has captured gold at four World Championships and three Pan American Games. She also 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.
Andrea Duran, Selma, Calif. (UCLA ’06) – Making her first Olympic team, Duran has been a member of the National team for three seasons 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.
Jennie Finch, La Mirada, Calif. (Arizona ’02) – Two-time World Champion Finch will look to become a two-time Olympic Gold Medalist in her seventh consecutive year on the National team. 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) – Starting first baseman with a powerful swing, Flowers has been a solid player for the Red, White and Blue as she vies for her second Olympic Gold Medal. 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 ’05) – After suffering a broken arm at the beginning of the Bound 4 Beijing tour, Galindo battled back to make her first Olympic team roster. She is the perfect combination of speed, power and defensive play. Seeing time at second and designated player, she is coming off an outstanding 2007 summer where she was second on the team with a .500 (18-for-36) batting average and no errors in the field.
Lovieanne Jung, Fountain Valley, Calif. (Arizona ’03) – Second baseman Jung will be making her second Olympic squad after being a solid fixture on the National Team level since 2002. 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 Olympic roster coming back stronger than ever. 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) – After being a 2004 Olympic alternate, Lappin has persevered to make her first ever Olympic roster. During the four years, she has developed as a utility player at catcher and middle infield. Lappin had a stellar return to the National Team roster in 2007, hitting fourth on the team with a .480 (12-for-25) average while teaching herself to bat both left and right handed.
Caitlin Lowe, Tustin, Calif. (Arizona ’07) – The leadoff batter over the past three seasons, Lowe has earned her first spot on an Olympic roster having a presence on the program since 2005. She has led the team during the quad making an appearance in all events, with a .402 average while she is second on the team during the quad with 63 runs scored.
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 and will continue as she makes her second Olympic roster. 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.
Stacey Nuveman, La Verne, Calif. (UCLA ’02) – Leading with experience, catcher Stacey Nuveman returns to her third Olympic roster after being an integral part in both the 2000 and 2004 gold medal victories. She had the only hit of the 2000 gold medal game and a homerun in the 2004 gold medal game. Nuveman returns to the squad after taking off the 2007 season with the birth of her son, Chase.
Cat Osterman, Houston, Texas (Texas ’07) – Osterman has emerged as one of the best pitchers in the world, defeating some of the world’s top teams as she makes her second Olympic team roster. 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.
Natasha Watley, Irvine, CA. (UCLA ’05) – A highly recognized shortstop, Natasha Watley joins her second Olympic roster after an exceptional 2007 season. She hit .466 with 27 hits and a team-high two triples, scoring 21 runs. The speedster started all nine games at the 2004 Games, tying a team-best 12 hits for a .400 average.
Coaches for the 2008 USA Softball Women's Olympic Team will be Head Coach Mike Candrea (Casa Grande, Ariz.) from the University of Arizona, Assistant Coach Chuck D’Arcy (Sacramento, Calif.), Assistant Coach Karen Johns (Charlottesville, Va.) and Assistant Coach John Rittman (San Jose, Calif.) from Stanford University.