Softball Players to Compete for Team USA
June 18, 1998
BERKELEY, Calif. -- Former UCLA All-Americans Lisa Fernandez and Sheila Cornell-Douty have been named to the 1998 U.S. Womens National Team, that is scheduled to compete at the World Championships July 20-30 in Fujinomiya City, Japan.
FT. WORTH, TX - USA Softball has announced the roster for its 1998 Women's National Team which will attempt the quad, an unprecedented fourth consecutive title at the ISF Women's World Championship in Fujinomiya City, Japan, July 20-30.
The USA's record of 33-0 in World Championship play dating back to 1986 includes three straight titles, an unchallenged record in the sport.
Ten members of the gold medal team from the 1996 Olympic Games remain intact including Laura Berg, Santa Fe Springs,Calif.; Gillian Boxx, Torrance, Calif.; Sheila Douty, Diamond Bar, Calif.; Lisa Fernandez, Long Beach, Calif.; Lori Harrigan, Las Vegas, Nev.; Kim Maher, Fresno, Calif.; Leah O'Brien, Chino, Calif.; Julie Smith, Glendora, Calif.; Michele Smith, Califon, N.J.; Shelly Stokes, Sacramento, Calif. and Dani Tyler, River Forest, Ill.
Olympic team alternates Jennifer McFalls, Grand Prairie, Texas and Michelle Venturella, South Holland, Ill. were also named to the team.
The final four selections were named following the 1998 Coca-Cola USA Softball Women's National Team Festival, July 10-13 in Ft. Worth, Texas. Those athletes include Amy Chellevold, Tucson, Ariz.; Nina Lindenberg, Anaheim Hills, Calif.; Amanda Scott, Clovis,Calif. and Christa Williams, Houston,Texas.
The 1988 World Championship is the major showdown of world softball powers heading into the 2000 Olympic Games. At stake are five berths to the Games in Sydney. The USA needs to finish in the top four to earn a berth in 2000.
A successful title defense by the USA would also give the Americans a momentum building number one world ranking heading into Sydney.
The 1998 World Championship is expected to ignite a smoldering rivalry between Olympic champion USA and 2000 host team Australia. Australia has been public in their designs on the 2000 gold medal. To their credit, Australia has managed to do what no other team has been able to do by stringing together three wins over the Americans in the last three competitions in which they have participated, the most painful being a 2-1 upset in USA's game six of the 1996 Games. Fernandez gave up a game winning home run to Australia's Joanne Brown after pitching a remarkable perfect game through 9 2/3 innings.
When Fernandez returned home from her gold medal performance in 1996, she received a bittersweet reminder of the competition and a challenge to the USA's stranglehold position as the number one team in the world.
The reminder came in the form of a photograph of the Australian team celebrating the upset of the USA, and Fernandez. The challenge came in the form of a message penned on the back, "See you in Japan." The USA and Fernandez had officially been called out by Australia.
In January, the USA and Australia crossed bats again this time in New Zealand at the South Pacific Classic. The USA, playing in their off-season, dropped an early game to the Aussies. They met again in the finals and this time Fernandez completed her perfect game and lead the USA to a 4-0 gold medal win.
"The Australians want the gold in Sydney in 2000 the same way we wanted it in 1996 in Atlanta. The USA, however, remains the number one team in the world and we are not about to be intimidated by anyone," Fernandez said.