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Softball:'What a great place' - USA Softball commends UL, community

Nick Fontenot, The Advertiser, July 26, 2019

Click here for photo gallery of USA vs. Scrap Yard Softball.

USA softball finished its three-game exhibition series against Scrap Yard Fastpitch on Thursday at Lamson Park with a 1-0 win behind dominate pitching from three of the national team starters.

Rachel Garcia pitched four scoreless innings to start the game, Cat Osterman pitched the fifth and Monica Abbott closed out the sixth and seventh, striking out six of the seven batters she faced.

USA coach Ken Eriksen said it was good to work out some things with his pitching staff that they’ll call upon in international competition.

“We did a nice job ham-and-egging the pitching staff,” Eriksen said. “We tried to get a starter, middle relief and closer in there. You try to get them ready for that because the hitters across the world are really, really good. And going up against a team like Scrap Yard that can swing the bat, holding them to zero for seven innings is pretty special.”

Thursday’s game was the rubber match between USA and Scrap Yard at Lamson Park. The USA National team won Game 1 on Tuesday, 6-0, and Scrap Yard took the second game Wednesday, 5-4. Eriksen said the exhibition schedule is still competitive, but it more so allows the national team to work out a lot of kinks before the international schedule.

“You try to win everything,” Eriksen said, “but we are also working on a lot of stuff. We made some adjustments on Osterman and she was really sharp (Thursday). (Scrap Yard pitcher Alexis) Silkwood did an excellent job changing speeds on us and it’s something to learn from.

“If you don’t see that stuff a lot, what can you do? It helps us get prepared because everyone else around the world will be throwing different stuff at us. So yeah, we’re competitive to a certain degree, but working on things to get better.”

This was Erkisen’s first trip to Lafayette, but according to him, it won’t be his last. Eriksen’s dad was stationed in Bossier City when he was younger, and he’s also been to Thibodaux and New Orleans before, but he said Lafayette is a vastly different experience from anywhere else in the state.

“This is a special place,” Eriksen said. “(UL assistant coach) Mike Roberts was telling me how good the food is compared to other places in Louisiana — and he was right. I’ve put about 60 pounds on between boudin and bourbon pecan pie and shrimp — I’ve hit just about every restaurant here.”

The USA national team is heading to Houston for three more exhibition games against Scrap Yard, but Eriksen wasn’t short on praises for Lafayette and UL before leaving. He said he looks forward to returning and said anyone who loves softball who hasn’t been to Lamson Park is missing something special.

“Coach Gerry Glasco and Coach Roberts did a great job hosting us,” Eriksen said. “The people were unbelievable, and the school and the people who surround the program made our girls feel really special. Louisiana-Lafayette did a great job hosting us and giving us the ability to train.

"You can’t ask for much more than to have towns like this across America that support us and support softball. What a great place.”