By Tom Mauldin - 10/16/2019
A pair of Northwest softball players are among those chosen to wear the red, white and blue at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
Former Washington standout Ali Aguilar and ex-Oregon All-American Janie Takeda Reed were named to the 15-player squad that was introduced on Monday.
Aguilar was a four-year starter for the Huskies as was Reed at Oregon. Aguilar is an infielder while Reed is an outfielder.
Playing for Washington 2014-17, Aguilar earned Pac-12 honors four times and All-American honors three.
In her final three seasons at Washington, Aguilar accounted for 374 runs in 171 games, scoring 204 and driving in 170. She homered 51 times, doubled 49 and walked 104 times. She is a former MaxPreps All-American.
Reed is just one of two Oregon players to be a two-time All-American and she did it three times (2013-14-15). She is a member of the elite 300 hits, 200 runs, 100 stolen base club.
"It wasn't really ever a dream of mine because I never thought that I would be at the level of my heroes," Takeda-Reed said. "It means the world to me to be able to represent this amazing country and play alongside some of the best in the game."
Career-wise, Reed played 240 games, collected 309 hits, scored 204 runs and drove in 132. She also stole 132 bases and committed just 13 errors. Her four-year batting average was .392.
Both Reed and Aguilar were members of Team USA’s 2019 Pan-American gold medal team this summer.
Aguilar joins Jaime Clark as the only Husky to represent Team USA on an Olympics roster. Jennifer Spediacci, Danielle Lawrie, and Jenn Salling played for Canada previously.
Reed is the first Duck to represent the USA in softball at the Olympics. Joanna Gail played for Greece in 2004 and Ani Nyhus played for Canada in 2004
“This has been an incredible process that has taken years of evaluation about great people who play softball at the highest level,” said 2020 Olympic head coach Ken Ericksen. “It should be extremely exhilarating for the most knowledgeable in the softball community to understand what it takes to form a team that includes experience and ability.
“As for these Olympians, we could not have picked anyone better to be part of this group,” added Erickson, who coaches collegiately at the University of Central Florida. “The diverse nature of this team comes from its individuality off the field and its likeness on the field. The team was chosen to play softball at a level most are not familiar with. That’s what it takes to win Gold Medals at the world’s biggest stages. We definitely have that capability with this group.”
The 2020 team includes two players with Olympic team experience – pitchers Monica Abbott and Cat Osterman, 12 members of the 2018 World Championship team and 13 members of the 2019 Pan American Games Gold Medal team.
The team is filled with former or current players from the Big Ten (two), Big 12 (two), SEC (five) and Pac-12 (five). Five have won one or more NCAA Women’s College World Series (WCWS) titles, while four have garnered USA Softball Player of the Year honors at least once during their career.
In addition to Aguilar, Reed, Osterman and Abbott, the team will consist of Rachel Garcia (pitcher/third baseman), infielders Valerie Arriota, Delaney Spaulding, and Kelsey Stewart, outfielders Michelle Moultrie, Hailey McLeney and Bubba Nickles, and catchers Amanda Chidester, Aubree Munro and Deija Mulipola and multi-versatile Ally Carda, who pitches and plays infield or outfield.
Garcia is the lone current collegian and led UCLA to the 2019 national title enroute to being named National Player of the Year for a second-straight year. Three other former Bruins were named to the team – Spaulding, Carda and Nickles.
The three alternates, also called “replacement players,” include pitcher Keilani Ricketts, catcher Taylor Edwards and infielder Hannah Flippen.
During the Selection Trials, athletes participated in position drills as well as simulated games and were evaluated by the USA Softball Women’s National Team Selection Committee (WNTSC).
At next summer’s Olympics, Team USA will join Japan, Canada, Mexico, Australia and Italy as the field of six countries competing for the Gold medal. As the host country, Japan earned an automatic berth while Team USA earned their berth by winning the 2018 World Baseball/Softball Confederation (WBSC) Softball World Championship.
Ericksen noted that during the try-out process, ”Everyone that was on the field in Oklahoma City last week earned their place in the trials. There was no selfishness here and that was an incredible observation amongst all that watched.”
The USA has an impressive history in the Olympics, compiling a record of 33-5 during the four tournaments, including an undefeated 9-0 record at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. Dubbed “The Real Dream Team”, the 2004 U.S. Olympic Softball Team broke 16 records, including breaking eight of their own records previously set. All total, the U.S. owns three gold and one silver Olympic medal in softball.