Five Bruins Named to 2004 U.S. Olympic Softball Team

Sept. 8, 2003

Oklahoma City, OK - USA Softball announced today the list of 18-players that will train for the next 12 months in preparation of defending its gold medal at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. Since the official Olympic roster consists of only 15-players, three of the 18 players selected will be named as alternates on January 5th. The final 15 will be nominated to the United States Olympic Committee as the team to represent the the 2004 Olympic Games.

Five former Bruins, Lisa Fernandez, Amanda Freed, Tairia Mims, Stacey Nuveman and Natasha Watley, are among the 18-player list announced today by USA Softball.

The roster consists of four two-time Olympic gold medalists and six of the 15-member 2000 Olympic Team. Thirteen of the 17 members of the 2002 World Championship gold medal winning team remain intact.

Forty-six of the nation's top female softball players participated in the 2003 USA Softball Olympic Trials, September 3-6 in Chula Vista, CA, and from that list the following 18-players were chosen.

Laura Berg, Santa Fe Springs, Calif.- Outfielder Laura Berg is one of four two-time Olympic gold medalist to be selected to the 2004 Women's National Team. Along with her two Olympic gold medals, Berg has captured gold at three World Championships and two Pan American Games.

Crystl Bustos, Canyon Country, Calif.- Third baseman Crystl Bustos captured gold at the 2000 Olympic Games and is one of the most feared hitters in the game today. In 2003, she led the U.S. to a gold medal at the Pan Am Games after collecting nine RBI in nine games.

Jaime Clark, Tustin, Calif.- Shortstop Jaime Clark is making her second consecutive national team after being part of the 2001 Pan Am Qualifier Team. A former standout at the University of Washington, Clark hit .778 during the 2003 Pan Am Games.

Lisa Fernandez, Long Beach, Calif.- Right-handed pitcher Lisa Fernandez, who is widely regarded as the best softball player in the world, makes her third consecutive National Team roster. She has pitched in last two Olympic and World Championship gold medal games. She played her collegiate softball at UCLA from 1990-93, and was a three-time Honda Award Winner as the nation's top softball player. In 1993, she became the first softball player ever to win the prestigious Honda Broderick Cup as the nation's top collegiate female athlete.

Jennie Finch, La Mirada, Calif.- A right-handed pitcher, Jennie Finch adds to the strong pitching staff among the 2004 USA Softball National team. A 2003 Pan American gold medalist and 2002 ISF World Champion, this marks her third consecutive season with the national team.

Amanda Freed, Cypress, Calif.- A 2000 Olympic team alternate, Amanda Freed joins the 2004 National team roster as an outfielder/pitcher after taking home the gold at the 2003 Pan American Games. In 2002, she also led the USA Softball National team to the ISF World Championship title. A three-time All-American at UCLA, Freed played from 1999-2002 and pitched in the 1999, 2000 and 2001 NCAA Championship games.

Nicole Giordano, Saugus, Calif.- A 2003 Pan American gold medalist, Nicole Giordano lists among the outfielders named to the 2004 National Team. Making her third consecutive National Team appearance, she was also a member of the 2002 ISF World Championship team.

Lori Harrigan, Las Vegas, Nev.- Left-hander pitcher Lori Harrigan is one of the four two-time Olympic gold medalists to be chosen for the 2004 Women's National Team. In the opening game of the 2000 Olympics, she became the first pitcher to throw a solo no-hitter in Olympic competition.

Lovieanne Jung, Westminster, Calif.- Second baseman Lovieanne Jung makes her third consecutive appearance on USA Softball Women's National Team roster. She captured gold at the 2002 ISF World Championships and the 2003 Pan Am Games. At the Pan Ams she hit .455 with a team leading 10 base hits in nine games.

Kelly Kretschman, Indian Harbour Beach, Fla.- A 2000 Olympic team alternate, this marks Kelly Kretschman's second season on the National team roster. A member in 2000 and now 2004, the 5'6' outfielder led the 2003 USA Softball Elite team to the Canada Cup gold medal title and a sweep of Olympic bronze medalist Australiain the Pacific Challenge.

Lauren Lappin, Anaheim, Calif.- The youngest member of the 2004 USA Softball National Team at 19, Lauren Lappin makes her first appearance among the national team ranks. During the 2003 season, this shortstop/catcher led the USA Softball Elite squad to the gold medal at the Canada Cup and a sweep of Olympic bronze medalist Australiain the Pacific Challenge.

Jessica Mendoza, Camarillo, Calif.- Outfielder Jessica Mendoza has been a consistent member of the USA National Team since the 2001 season. She brings experience to the outfield after capturing gold at the 2002 World Championships and the 2003 Pan Am Games.

Tairia Mims, Tucson, Ariz.- A utility player at first base, third base and catcher, Tairia Mims joins her third national team after success as a 2002 World Champion and 2003 Pan Am gold medalist. A two-time All-American at UCLA, Mims was the NCAA's active leader in career home runs last season, finishing with 61 home runs, good for fifth on the NCAA's all-time Division I list.

Stacey Nuveman, La Verne, Calif.- Catcher Stacey Nuveman was an integral part in the USA's come back during the 2000 Olympic Games. In the playoffs versus China, she blasted the game winning home run and drove in the tying run in the gold medal game versus Japan. A four-time first-team All-American at UCLA (1997, 1999, 2001-02), Nuveman holds the NCAA's career home runs record with 90 and was a three-time Pac-10 Player of the Year (1999, 2001, 2002).

Leah O'Brien-Amico, Chino Hills, Calif.- First baseman Leah O'Brien-Amico is considered as one of the best clutch players in the game. She is a two-time Olympic gold medalist, two-time World Champion and two-time Pan Am gold medalist. She returned to national team competition in 2002 after taking a year off to give birth to her son Jake Thomas Amico.

Cat Osterman, Houston, Texas- One of two collegiate athletes on the '04 lineup, Cat Osterman will provide depth in the circle for the 2004 National team. In 2002, she was a member of the USA Softball Elite National team.

Jenny Topping, Whittier, Calif.- Providing depth behind the plate, Topping enters the 2004 National team roster after taking home the 2003 Pan American gold medal. A 5'6' catcher, this will be her third consecutive National team selection.

Natasha Watley, Irvine, Calif.- A highly recognized shortstop, Natasha Watley joins her third National team after taking home the 2002 World title and 2003 Pan American title. She was honored in 2003 as the Honda Broderick Cup recipient as the Top Collegiate Female athlete and finished the 2003 season batting .432 in the lead-off spot for Team USA. A four-time first-team All-American at UCLA, Watley played for the Bruins from 2000-03.

Coaches for the 2004 USA Softball Women's Olympic Team will be Head Coach Mike Candrea(Casa Grande, Ariz.) from the University of Arizona, Assistant Coach Ken Eriksen(Temple Terrace, Fla.) from the University of South Florida and Assistant Coach John Rittman,(San Jose, Calif.) from Stanford.

After capturing its first Olympic gold medal in the sports history at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, GA, the USA Softball Women's National Team defended its gold medal at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. In Olympic Competition, the women have tallied a 15-4 overall record since their first title in 1996.

After winning the past five World Championships, the past five Pan Am Games and the only two Olympic gold medals, the USA Softball Women's team has been the undisputed No. 1 team in the world for the past 17 consecutive years.

In 2002, the Women's team captured their fifth consecutive World Championship title qualifying them as the top seed at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. USA Softball Women's National Teams have been among the most dominating of any sports team in history. The USA's ability to bring home the title in World Championships, Pan American Games and Olympic Games is unchallenged, with a total of 15 gold medals.

As the National Governing Body of Softball, USA Softball is responsible for training, equipping and promoting women's, men's, junior girls' and junior boys' National Teams that compete in international and domestic competitions. USA Softball is one of the only two women's sports to capture back-to-back gold medals at the Olympic Games since 1996.

The final roster for the 2004 Olympic Team must be submitted to the United States Olympic Committee for final approval.

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