OLYMPIC GAMES | SOFTBALL AND BASEBALL
Softball and baseball USA teams at Tokyo Olympics 2021: who is who?
It's been 13 years since softball and baseball were at the Olympic Games, but they're back this year, with both sports being highly popular in Japan.
Softball and baseball are back in the Olympics after 13 years, with host Tokyo successfully pushing for their re-inclusion in the program. Both sports are highly popular in Japan.
Where the Olympics, which start this Friday 23 July, are concerned, men play in baseball, while women compete in softball.
The United States bagged the gold in three consecutive Olympic Games since softball became a medal-winning sport in 1996, but was left with a silver in 2008 after an upset by Japan.
Despite that loss, they are still favored to win this year. They won the gold medal at the 2019 Pan-American games, the last major international competition.
Hayley McCleney (Outfield), who is playing in Tokyo, hit three home runs in that tournament.
All 15 members of the US team had stellar college careers, with the roster including some NCAA record-holders.
One player to watch is pitcher/infield Rachel Garcia, who led the UCLA Bruins to an NCAA title and was named most outstanding player of the tournament. She can pitch up to 112kph.
Japan favorites in baseball
Meanwhile, in baseball, Japan is a strong favorite to get the gold.
Japan’s professional baseball league is taking a pause, giving most of the country’s best players a chance to join the Olympics.
Other baseball-loving countries, including the US, will not be fielding the best of their pro players.
Fourteen of the 24-member US baseball team have logged in hours in Major League Baseball, but none of them are currently active.
The squad boasts two World Series champions- Edwin Jackson (2011) and David Robertson (2009). The team collectively holds seven All-Star Game appearances led by Scott Kamir with three, and Todd Frazier with two.