1st Annual Danny Lansanah Celebrity Softball Game

DannyLan Charity Softball

The 1st Annual Danny Lansanah Celebrity Softball Game was held in Harrisburg, PA on Saturday, July 13th, 2013 at the Metro Bank Park.  The celebrity game was a charity event to help the Men of South East League Field Baseball League. “M.O.S.E.L.F. is a non-profit organization that caters to youth baseball throughout the entire Harrisburg area. T-ball, pony baseball, and senior baseball. M.O.S.E.L.F. provides services to some 450 children that participate in league programs, which encompass the North East, Boyer East, South East, and the Boys & Girls Club fields in Harrisburg. Youth Baseball in the city of Harrisburg had a void and M.O.S.E.L.F. filled this void for our community for over 20 years.”

I managed to get an inside scoop of the charity event due to my college roommate, Shaniqua, playing in the game. Shaniqua was brave enough to face these mammoth size athletes ranging from 200-300 pounds of muscle, at only 53 feet away on the pitcher’s mound.  To me, this sounds like a death trap; but from the pictures, it appears that she has survived and is living well!  Shaniqua battled inside the circle for half the game before moving to outfield.  She even faced the man-of-the-hour, Danny Lansanah, pitching enough junk to strike him out.

Shaq Pitching at Celeb Game

Four other locals were also given the chance to play with the well renowned athletes.  Though out the game ten players played the field in locations they thought the ball would be hit.  Even after standing anywhere on the field, it was still impossible to catch some of the balls hit such as the home run hit by Aaron Berry. Below is a list of all the athletes who participated in the event and many pictures.

Celebrities that played include:

  • Danny Lansanah – NFL Linebacker for the New York Jets
  • Aaron Berry- Jets
  • Adrian Robinson- Steelers
  • Jordan Hill- Seahawks
  • Morkeith Brown- Philadelphia Soul
  • Chris Franklin- Harlem Globetrotters
  • Gilbert Brown- Overseas B-Ball
  • Lawrence Hamm- Overseas B-Ball (part of Under Armour)
  • Robert McClain- Falcons
  • Marcus Easley- Bills
  • Kashif Moore- Steelers
  • Evan Rodriguez- Dolphins
  • Jack Crawford- Raiders
  • Mark Harrison- Patriots
  • Ryan Spadola- Jets
  • Kendall Gaskins- Bills
  • Brandon Copeland- Ravens
  • Ellis Lankster- Jets
  • Darrin Walls- Jets
  • Arthur Moats- Bills
  • Pharmacist- And 1 Street Baller
  • Big Mike- And 1 Street Baller
  • (And most importantly) My all-star roomie!

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Interested in donating to the cause? Contact the event organizer at: http://lansanahcelebsoftballgame.eventbrite.com

Photo credit: twitter.com and Facebook.com


Jennie Finch Maybe Anything but Retired: The Olympic-distance Aquaphor NYC Triathlon Coverage

This past Sunday, on July 14th, Jennie Finch, two-time softball Olympian, competed in the Olympic-distance Aquaphor New York City Triathlon.  The race included at 1500m swim through the Hudson River, a 40k bike race along Manhattan’s West Side highway, and a 10k run through Central Park. The race concluded in that order with over 3,000 athletes competing in the race.

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Race Map

Even though this was Finch’s 3rd triathlon experience, she is still learning the tricks of the trade.  She mentioned many times throughout her training that she has been focusing on her transitions throughout the race.

One of Finch’s main fears was for the open water swim.  The race would involve just short of a one-mile  open water swim all going in one direction across the fierce Hudson River.  Finch had a little hardship training for the swim due to living alligator country in Louisiana.  Training in local ponds and swimming holes were a bit nerve-racking since several fish or possibly gators kept touching her in the dark water!  Even after those close calls, Finch says the swimming portion of the triathlon has become her favorite part.

Finch at the Starting Line

Finch at the Starting Line

Another focus for Finch was to maintain hydration during the race.  Finch packed lots of water.  She also packed many packs of Gu gel to get electrolytes and bursts of energy.

Finch Bike Training

Finch Bike Training

Finch finished the race in 2 hours and 51 minutes and placed 34th in her division.  Below is a video showing her sprinting through finish line. At the end, Finch’s son Ace begged her to not participate in anymore triathlons but we’ll see if this Olympian can stay seated on the bench.

Finch with Family After the Race

Finch with Family After the Race

Final Race Times

Final Race Times

Finch Crossing Finish Line Video

Find out more about Jennie Finch’s race? Visit her special in ESPN W. http://espn.go.com/espnw/athletes-life/article/9479549/espnw-olympic-softball-star-jennie-finch-finishes-aquaphor-new-york-city-triathlon-ahead-schedule

Event Website: http://www.nyctri.com/

Photo Credit: http://espn.go.com/espnw/search/finch/ and https://twitter.com/jfinch27


Japan Wins the 2013 World Cup of Softball!

Japan US Softball

Japan managed to breeze by the USA, not once but twice, during the World Cup of Softball. This was Japan’s first win since 2005 when the tournament first began. From 2006 to 2012, the USA has been the continuous victor, winning 6 World Cups.

The final 2013 standings are shown below:

Gold Medal – Japan

Silver Medal – USA

Bronze Medal – Australia

The most valuable player, from my opinion, goes to Yukiko Ueno from Japan.  Ueno was fierce on the field; throwing fastballs averaging 72 mph.  Players appeared to struggle just getting the bat around in time to hit a pitch. This not surprising since Ueno is the fastest pitcher in the world; having been clocked at 75 mph.  To add even more to mix, Ueno was throwing not one but two different levels of off speed pitches.  Her off speeds came in at around 51 and 62 mph.  Ueno is considered a veteran on the field for Japan. At age 30, Ueno is the oldest and most decorated player on Team Japan.  Ueno’s experience has proven to be a great advantage.  She clearly has excellent control over every pitch, as she paints the strike zone with curves and drop-balls.  One of her most highly recognized wins is over Team USA in the 2008 Olympics.  Ueno not only pitched both games against Team USA in the 2013 World Cup but also pitched all 7 innings.

yukiko

Interesting enough, this may have been a wished granted to Coach Erikson. “United States coach Ken Eriksen said that he hoped Japan used Ueno every game during its stay in Oklahoma City, including any and all against the United States. He was joking, but only in the sense that he knew Japan wouldn’t overburden its ace.”  The joke is now on him since Japan did pitch the ace and beat the USA team doing it.  Team USA has 12 rookies on the team.  This young team has learned a great deal facing such a competitive opponent. There is only room for improvement at this point in the game.

Team USA will be facing Japan again in the Canadian Open Fast Pitch International Championship in Surrey, B.C., Canada.  The teams are scheduled to play on July 17th at 9pm.  Stay tuned to see if Japan decides to pitch Ueno again against Team USA!

Photo credit: http://asianwiki.com/Yukiko_Ueno and http://www.naharnet.com/stories/en/90612


Update on the World Cup of Softball VIII

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Here’s an update on the World Cup of Softball VIII.  Australia and Puerto Rico are set to go to the Seed #5 v. Seed #4 game.  The winner of that game will progress to the Bronze Medal game.  The lose will be out of the tournament.  It is just a matter of tomorrow’s game, USA v. Puerto Rico, that will determine which team will have what place.  Japan is scheduled to play tonight against the USA at 8pm central-time.  The game will be the decider if Japan will be fighting for the Bronze Medal.  If Japan loses, they will be automatically set as Seed #3 and will be going straight to the Bronze Medal game.  If Japan wins, then the team will still be in a toss up between Canada, USA, and Japan to fight for the Gold Medal.  If Japan wins tonight, the USA will have to beat Puerto Rico tomorrow to insure a place in the Gold Medal game.  Below are the current team standings.

Canada  3-1

USA 2-0

Japan 2-1

Australia 1-3

Puerto Rico 0-3

Photo credit: twitter.com


The World Cup of Softball VIII

2013WorldCupEventPage

The World Cup of Softball launched yesterday with Japan taking a win over Australia and the US earning a win against Canada.  The tournament will be lasting four days from July 11-14th.  Even though one day is down, there are still 11 more exciting games to watch!  ESPN plans to show the USA Team where viewers can cheer the team on at the comfort of their home or even a sports bar. Woot!  Fans can also catch the games through live streaming and stat updates if the game is not shown on ESPN.

Teams participating this year include the US, Canada, Australia, Japan, and Puerto Rico.  The US is returning to the tournament as the defending champions.  Even though the tournament is numbered VIII, this will be its 7th run since 2005.  In 2008, the tournament was not held due to players participating in the Olympics.

The World Cup is being held at the well-known Oklahoma City stadium, the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium.  This is the same stadium where the NCAA Division I College Softball World Series is held,  as well as many other top softball tournaments.

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Team USA has 18 strong players from all over the United States and 6 coaches. Hopefully, more information is posted for these players so that the viewers can learn more about them. Watching these mystery players in action is going to be exciting since they are some of the type players in the country.  Do not miss out on the action!

The team roster is shown below, as well as a tournament bracket and a chart showing previous tournament winners. Check them out and send any questions you have my way!

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Valerie Arioto, California – 2012

Raven Chavanne, Tennessee – 2013

Lauren Chamberlain, Oklahoma – Jr.

Amanda Chidester, Michigan – 2012

Aimee Creger, Tulsa – Sr.

Amber Freeman, Arizona State – Jr.

Lauren Gibson, Tennessee – 2013

Taylor Hoagland, Texas – 2013

Nicole Hudson, Missouri – 2013

Destinee Martinez, Oklahoma – Sr.

Jessica Moore, Oregon – 2013

Michelle Moultrie, Florida – 2012

Sara Nevins, South Florida – Sr

Cheridan Hawkins, Oregon – Soph.

Kourtney Salvarola, South Florida – Sr.

Rhea Taylor, Missouri – 2011

Taylor Thom, Texas – Sr.

Lindsey Ziegenhirt, California – 2013

Coaching Staff

Head Coach: Ken Eriksen (Tampa, Fla./head coach South Florida)

Asst. Coaches:

Laura Berg (Corvalis, Ore./head coach Oregon State)

Suzy Brazney (Huntington Beach, Calif./head coach Golden West College)

Howard Dobson (Orange, Texas/assistant coach LSU)

Karen Weekly (Edmonds, Wash./co-head coach Tennessee)

Mike White (Eugene, Ore./head coach Oregon)

World Cup Winners
Year Winning Team
2012 USA
2011 USA
2010 USA
2009 USA
2008 Not Played
2007 USA
2006 USA
2005 Japan

Photo credit: http://www.softballcenter.com/2010-asa-a-c-world-tournament-preview/


Japan wins the 2013 Junior Women’s World Championships!

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Overview of the tournament

The JWWC was held in Ontario, Canada this year from July 1st-7th.  Sixteen countries came to the 19-U tournament which included; USA, Canada, New Zealand, Czech Republic, Puerto Rico, Great Britain, Korea, Venezuela, Japan, Australia, Brazil, China, Botswana, Netherlands, Singapore, and Mexico.  A total of seventy-three games were played in the tournament.  All games are available for viewing at http://www.sportscanada.tv/2013jwwc/index.php/broadcast-schedule.

All of the teams managed to make it to Canada except for Venezuela due to not being able get all the needed passports before the tournament began.

The USA played a solid eight games during the tournament.  After the USA defeated Japan once in the winner’s bracket, Japan came back with vengeance fighting their way to the gold medal game.  Japan managed to pull out a victory over undefeated USA in their ninth game in the tournament.

Final Bracket

Gold Medal: Japan

Silver Medal: USA

Bronze Medal: Australia

How the USA Players are Chosen

Players are chosen by invitation to the USA Softball Women’s National Team Selection Camp.  The players who accept the invite compete for the 17-18 open spots on the Junior Softball Women’s National Team to represent the United States.  This years’ junior team selection included 17 college freshmen all-stars from across the nation.  The roster can be found here http://www.teamusa.org/USA-Softball/Team-USA/Junior-Women.

Tournament Future Impact

The tournament added great publicity for the softball community.  The tournament buzz was all over Twitter and Facebook with live updates.  Fans were able to easily keep up with the rain delays and even see and pictures of the field conditions.  The best live-streaming mechanism used was the live-scoring on http://www.jwwc2013.com.  Below is a picture of what the live-scoring looked like where fans can watch updates on all the games being played at once.

US vs PR

Hopefully, all of this new media coverage will help Baseball/Softball to be voted back into the 2020 Olympics!  The age that group played in the tournament include likely candidates to play in the Olympics if the sport is voted back in.  These girls can possibly become the new major faces of softball and be up there with softball idols such as Jennie Finch, Lisa Fernandez, and Jessica Mendoza.

Below Team USA tries to clean up the field during the final game so that they can play the last inning. Picture was found from a live update on Twitter.

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Exciting Moments from the tournament

New Zealand performing game chant.

Interview with the coach of Team Japan. I love that he states that they came specifically to beat the US!

Photo credit: twitter.com


Advice for Stepping into the Box – The Mental Game of Softball

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I heard this advice from a college softball player at one of the various summer softball camps I took part in.  The advice has been carried with me ever since.  Sadly, I do not remember which player offered the advice or even what camp I happened to be at when it was spoken. 

Softball’s hardest attribute is the mental strength.  I’m sure you have heard the saying “Softball is 90% mental”. Throughout my career have seen time-and-again athletes with the highest physical capabilities on the field not able to produce outcomes when the game is on.

All of you reading this probably assume that the “stepping into the box” is referring to stepping into the batter’s box.  It is not however. Stepping into the batter’s box is only part of the mental issue. The other half can be used for playing defense.

One way to take stress away on the field is by making yourself a imaginary box.  Place the imaginary box onto the field.  You can even physically draw this box on field if you happen to be an infielder.  Place the box where you plan to stand when the ball is pitched.  After every pitch, step out of the box. When you are outside of this box, goof off, say funny things to your teammates, relax, take a breather, look for your fans in the bleachers, let your team know how many outs there are, etc.  Once the pitcher is ready to pitch the ball again, step back into the imaginary box.  The box is where you can put your game-face back on.   Everyone has his or her own type of game-face. Some athletes need to be serious. Some need to be starving with rage. Others just need to be focused.  Whatever your gameface is, this box is where you put it on before a play.  Remember to continue to relax no matter what is on your mind even inside the box and play the game as naturally as you can.

When playing offensive, the batter’s box is your game-face box.  Use the same mentality when stepping in-and-out of the batter’s box as when you are stepping in-and-out of your fielder’s box.  Outside the batter’s box, you can be your normal carefree self. Inside the box, there is only you and the pitcher.

Practicing “stepping into the box” will help you continue to play stress free.  Maintaining a game-face the entire game is very grueling on your mind and can wear you down.  Giving yourself mental breaks throughout the game can change outcomes immensely!

Remember that softball is just a game. Relax and remember to have fun.


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