By Tom Mauldin - 12/5/2019
Northwest softball enthusiasts won’t have to wait until the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to get a look at Team USA. The best in the world team is coming to the Northwest.
But they might want to act quickly as tickets go on sale Dec. 6 for the team’s lone Northwest appearance - March 18 at the University of Oregon.
Team USA will play a double header at Oregon’s Jane Sanders Stadium in Eugene against the Oregon Ducks and NAIA National Champion Southern Oregon University.
The double header at UO will be part of USA Softball’s "Stand Beside Her" national tour.
The first game on March 18 will take place between Team USA and SOU, while the second game will feature the U.S. Olympic team and the University of Oregon.
The "Stand Beside Her" tour is designed to evoke a message of unity aimed to inspire communities to stand behind members of the WNT and future generations of female athletes. It will also serve as a key part of the team's training period before Olympic competition begins in July.
Softball will make its first appearance at the Olympics since 2008, with the gold-medal game scheduled for July 28. Team USA is co-favored with host Japan.
First-year SOU coach Mike Mayben knows the impact of the exhibition game on his team’s program.
"We have an incredible opportunity to meet and play against some of the best players in the history of the game," SOU coach Mike Mayben said. "It is a privilege to be a part of Team USA's journey as they prepare for the 2020 Olympic Games."
The Raiders finished the 2019 season 52-8, to claim their first national title. They'll return 15 players from that team, including All-American pitcher Gabby Sandoval and all but one starting position player.
Former Oregon All-American Janie Takeda Reed is elated to be able to once again play in familiar surroundings, but with Team USA this time.
"I can't explain how excited I am to get to go to Eugene on the 'Stand Beside Her' tour," said Reed. "I never got to play in The Jane (Jane Sanders Stadium) and I already know it's going to be an emotional experience getting to wear the USA uniform on that field and in that stadium, especially in front of the best fans in the world.”
Reed added, “I love that the title of our tour will be embodying unity - something that is so important to me as both a player and a person,” said Reed. “One thing that is so unique about our team is that although we have to essentially ‘compete against each other’ each year at tryouts, one of our core values is to stand beside one another in all that we do. We cheer for each other, we celebrate one another, and we’d be there for each other on or off the field no matter what.”
The “Stand Beside Her” tour evokes a powerful message of unity aimed to inspire communities to stand beside HER – the members of the WNT, America and the future generation of female athletes.
“The message ‘Stand Beside Her’ isn’t just about our team,” Reed continued. “It’s about us standing beside the girl that wants to be where we are one day, it’s about men pledging to stand beside women in full support, it’s about standing beside the United States of America. The title is so much more than a catchy phrase and we are so much more than softball players, so I think it’s perfectly fitting.”
With the return of softball to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games program, the “Stand Beside Her” tour provides much-needed training and competition for the 2020 WNT in their preparation for the Olympic Games while also giving fans a chance to watch the Red, White and Blue in person. Olympic competition will start July 22, 2020 with the Gold Medal Game being played on July 28.
The tour will kick off in February with the USA squad competing in a pair of prestigious college tournaments and run through the summer right up to the start of the Tokyo games.
The "Stand Beside Her" tour begins Feb. 7-9 in Florida, Feb. 20-23 in California, March 31 in Alabama, April 3 and 5 in Georgia, April 7 and May 30 in Tennessee, April 18 and 25 in Texas, June 9 and 10 in Michigan and June 25 in Virginia.
“How more appropriate is it than to have a tour themed ‘Stand Beside Her’ for the women that represent the United States of America and for what our flag stands for on and off the softball field,” said USA head coach Ken Eriksen in a release from USA Softball. “This tour provides not only the softball community’s opportunity to stand beside our team and the flag for all it represents during the Olympic tour, but also for the rest of the country to be able to re-familiarize themselves with our great sport. This venture will prepare our team, Team USA, for the opportunity to regain the Olympic Gold Medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The schedule will include not just exhibition games against some of the top collegiate programs in the country, along with some potential games against pro teams, but will also include sections of the spring to train as a team in great environments.
“I look forward to seeing the patriotism and support the soon-to-be Olympic athletes deserve.”
Ticket prices start at $15.