By MICHAEL BURWELL
The 2014 United States women’s national softball team will be coming to Findlay for the first time.
The team will be at the Marathon Diamonds June 16-17. A doubleheader exhibition will be played against college all-stars on the 17th, and an hour-long autograph session with the national team will immediately follow the games.
A three-hour clinic for players between the ages of 9-18 will also take place on June 16. Basic fundamentals such as fielding, hitting and throwing will be taught by the U.S. national team and its coaches.
“I think this is a great testament to the amazing and incredible facility that we have here at the Marathon Diamonds and at the Cube,” Findlay Mayor Lydia Mihalik said at a press conference at the Cube Wednesday morning. “This will be one of the, if not the, largest events that we’ve ever had here at the Marathon Diamonds.”
The U.S. national team’s visit to Findlay will be its first not only to the city, but to northwestern Ohio. The exhibition games will take place on the National Lime and Stone Field, one of five diamonds at the complex.
A limit of 5,000 tickets will be available for the exhibition games on June 17. Ticket sales have been going on for about two weeks, according to the Findlay Girls Fastpitch Softball Club President Jim Welch, who added that over 500 tickets have been sold and paid for, and several hundred more have been requested.
“We capped the ticket sales at 5,000 tickets just because based on what we came up with, we feel that that is about the most we can fit in there,” Welch said.
In order to meet the anticipated attendance demands, bleachers and grandstands will be brought in and lined around the field for the fans.
“We’re wrapping as many grandstands and bleachers that we can find in and around the city on top of the concourse so we can put in as many fans as we can,” Welch said.
Parking will also be available around the complex, and Welch added that there will be over 1,700 spots available, so parking should not be an issue.
The 2014 U.S. national team is comprised of college softball players from around the country, including Oregon, Florida and Michigan, and led by University of South Florida head coach Ken Eriksen. The players had to previously be a part of the Amateur Softball Association in order to play on the national team, according to Warren Jones, commissioner of the Ohio Amateur Softball Association.
The team’s stop in Findlay is one of four “Selection Events” for the U.S. national team in which its final roster will be cut from about 23-25 players to 17. A selection camp will be held June 8-12 at a site to be determined, and exhibition games will be held June 13 in Lynchburg, Va., and June 19 in Purcellville, Va., in addition to Findlay.
On June 22, the final roster will be announced.
The clinic had about 150 kids sign up as of Wednesday, and there is a limit on the number of kids who can participate.
Jones said he didn’t know the specific number, but he would work with the coach and the team’s schedule to try to set something else up so he doesn’t have to turn any child away.
Jones added that there will also be another camp on June 17 in which kids from all over Ohio will come and get training.
The cost of attending the clinic is $75, and the cost of the exhibition games and autograph session is $10.
Tickets are available online at findlayfastpitch.org or blackhawksfastpitch.org.
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