It was a long wait filled with anticipation for the athletes who earned the opportunity to compete in the Tokyo Olympics, but it was especially lengthy for the USA Softball Team. The Tokyo Olympics were the first since the 2008 Games in Beijing that softball was included among the Olympic sports.
A decade after the Beijing Olympics, Team USA clinched a spot in the Tokyo Olympics by winning the 2018 World Championship. The USA squad secured their berth with an unforgettable 7-6 win over Japan in extra innings.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic forced an even longer wait as Team USA prepared to compete on the world stage. Due to the pandemic, the Olympic Games were postponed from the summer of 2020 to 2021.
Finally, a month before the start of the Olympics, Team USA arrived in Japan.
“We were able to practice and scrimmage with each other and against other professional Japanese teams,” recalled two-way player Ally Carda. “During that time, we were able to lock in with our training and just get more comfortable and confident as the games got closer.”
While training for the Olympics, Carda and Team USA utilized Blast sensors. The sensors instantly provide users with advanced metrics.
“I was able to use my Blast sensor and data within our live batting practice and scrimmages to help myself stay on track,” Carda explained. “Blast has been a great tool to enhance my training and hold myself accountable within each training session.”
In addition to being able to utilize Blast sensors, Team USA players could choose to use the Rawlings Mantra bat. The bat allows players to embed their Blast sensors into the knob of their bat. Carda shared her personal mantra: “Confidence is born from courage.”
With the long wait for the Olympics finally almost over, Carda and her teammates eagerly looked forward to the start of competition. However, they still appreciated their time practicing before the start of the Games.
“I remember stepping onto the Yokohama Stadium as a team for our first practice and just getting the chills seeing the ‘Tokyo2020’ branding everywhere and Olympic rings in centerfield,” Carda recounted. “It was really special.”
On July 20, the Opening Round began. In the first three days, Team USA cruised to shutout victories over Italy, Canada, and Mexico. The squad then followed up with a pair of 2-1 wins over Australia and Japan to go undefeated during the Opening Round and secure a spot in the Gold Medal Game against Japan.
Although Team USA only allowed two runs in their final game, Japan’s strong pitching led them to a 2-0 win to earn the Gold Medal. Team USA came away with the Silver.
“Every game during the Olympics brought a new, exciting energy,” Carda reflected afterwards. “Every game was important, and we thrived off the pressure that came with that. Pressure is a privilege, and our team was ready and prepared to take on every moment together.”
“Regardless of the outcome, I am so proud of this team and to represent the United States of America,” Carda continued. “Our goal was to win Gold and although we fell shy, we are Olympic medalists and got to play on the biggest stage in the world. I will forever be grateful to wear [a USA jersey] and to every person and sponsor who helped get me to this point.”
For Carda, the Olympics were about more than the competition aspect. She was grateful that softball was featured at the Olympics and that she was able to play alongside her USA Softball teammates.
“The Tokyo Olympic Games were really special, not only for us 18, but for the sport of softball,” Carda shared. “Seeing how many great competitors in our sport were on the world stage and representing softball with such class was amazing to see.”
“Although the games were different than any other Olympics, I think it was even more special because of the obstacles we were faced with and overcame,” Carda noted. “There were no fans or family allowed, but we still had each other, and we made the most of every day together.”
Team USA will strive for more Olympic success in the summer of 2028 – which is the next time softball is presumed to be featured on the world stage. Los Angeles will serve as the host for the 2028 Olympics.
For information on utilizing Blast for softball, click here.
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