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Softball throws a global pitch

World Cup begins as sport looks to impress the IOC

OKLAHOMA CITY – It’s a pivotal time in the history of their sport and the members of the U.S. team at the eighth World Cup of Softball are aware of that.

The World Cup, which begins today at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium, also will include teams from Canada, Australia, Japan and Puerto Rico. It will be one of the last major international softball events before the International Olympic Committee meets in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from Sept. 7-10.

During that meeting, either wrestling, squash or softball/baseball will be added to the program for the 2020 Olympics. So is this week an opportunity to make a positive impression on the IOC voters?

“I think we’re always trying to show the world that softball is a great sport and deserves to be back in the Olympics,” said U.S. infielder Lauren Chamberlain, who starred for Oklahoma during the Sooners’ run to the NCAA title this spring. “We’re just staying positive about the whole thing. There are a ton of little girls out there who want the same thing.”

Softball made its Olympic debut in 1996 in Atlanta. The U.S. won the gold medal that year, then again in 2000 in Sydney and in 2004 in Athens. Japan beat the U.S. for the gold in 2008 in Beijing, after the IOC voted in July 2005 to drop softball (and baseball) from the Olympics.

Ever since, efforts have been ongoing to have the IOC reconsider its decision.

The Americans have posted a 39-4 record in World Cup play. They play Canada today, Australia on Friday, Japan on Saturday and Puerto Rico on Sunday.