OKLAHOMA CITY — USA Softball has announced today the 2017 rosters for both the USA Softball Men’s Slow Pitch National Team and USA Softball Slow Pitch Futures Team. With a roster of 11 National Team veterans and five rookies, the Men’s Slow Pitch National Team will look to defend their Border Battle title, while 10 Futures Team veterans and four rookies comprise the USA Softball Slow Pitch Futures Team. Both teams will take part in a series of exhibition games at the USA Softball Hall of Fame Complex – OGE Energy Field – INTEGRIS Field in Oklahoma City and the Slow Pitch Showdown.
“There is no bigger honor than being able to represent the greatest country in the world in the sport that he or she loves to play,” said first time Team USA member Jason Branch (Brooksville, Fla./Swings: Worth). “Any diehard softball player like myself knows that being on Team USA means you are part of the best of the best. I look forward to representing this great team.”
Highlighting this year’s Slow Pitch National Team are first-time National Team members Bubba Mack (Milton, Fla./Swings: Easton), Kyle Pearson (Stonewall, La./Swings: Miken), Andy Vitcak (Oakdale, Minn./Swings: Louisville Sluger) and Jeremy Yates (Lake City, Fla./Swings: Louisville Slugger), who each have previous international experience as a member of the Futures National Team. Also returning to the roster is nine-time Men’s Slow Pitch National Team member Brian Wegman (Hamilton, Ohio), who has been named to the Slow Pitch National Team since the inaugural roster in 2009. Joining the National Team for the first time as a member of Team USA is Branch.
The team will be coached by Steve Shortland (Converse, Texas), who is making his ninth-consecutive appearance as the Head Coach of Team USA.
“I’m extremely honored to once again be part of this event,” said Shortland. “I’ve had the great privilege to coach Team USA since the inception of the Border Battle in 2009 and I can’t thank USA Softball and our partners enough for their confidence in me to lead. As I tell our players each year, representing our country on the field of play is an enormous responsibility and representation is just as important as winning. Each group fully embraces it and appreciates the opportunity and I have no doubt our 2017 roster will as well. We’re loaded with tremendous talent and we have a great mix of veterans and new faces. I’m excited and eager to put this team on the field and watch them compete.
Created in conjunction with the inaugural Border Battle slow pitch competition against Canada in 2009, the Men’s Slow Pitch National Team program is now in its ninth season. Last year, Team USA captured their seventh Border Battle title with a 27-8 win over Canada. The Americans won the inaugural Border Battle 30-23 but Canada evened the series in 2010 with a 30-29 win. The USA men have captured the past six-consecutive Border Battle titles: a dominating 25-3 performance in 2011, a 32-21 victory in 2012, a 25-10 win in 2013, an 18-9 win over Canada in 2014 and a 22-7 win over Canada in 2015 in addition to the 2016 win.
Highlighting this year’s Slow Pitch Futures Team are four-time Futures Team members Faron Miller (Goshen, Ind./Swings: DeMarini) and Mike Umscheid (Kenosha, Wis./Swings: Easton), while Jeff Flood (Sandy, Ore./Swings: DeMarini) and Ryan Harvey (Clearwater, Fla./Swings: Worth) are three-time members of the Futures Team. Four athletes also join the roster for the first time as a member of Team USA.
“I am excited about coming back to play for the Futures Team again,” said two-time Futures member Shannon Smith (Norman, Okla./Swings: Miken). “There’s a lot of great players associated with this event, both past and present. It’s an incredible honor to be recognized alongside them.”
The team will be coached by Rob Humphrey (Burlington, Iowa), who is making his fourth-consecutive appearance on the coaching staff of Team USA.
In addition to participating in Border Battle IX, the Slow Pitch National Team will take on the Futures Team in the Slow Pitch Showdown, while both teams will also compete against Canada and local slow pitch teams in a series of exhibition games June 30-July 2. Both squads will join the inaugural Women’s Slow Pitch National Team, who will also be competing against Canada’s Women’s Slow Pitch National Team in the Women’s Border Battle. A complete schedule for the Slow Pitch National Teams and Border Battle IX will be released at a later date.
Tickets are now on sale for Border Battle IX and can be purchased by phone at 800-654-8337 or online at USASoftball.com. Fans can follow along with the USA Softball National Team Program all season long at USASoftball.com.
About USA Softball
USA Softball is a 501(c)(3) not-for profit organization headquartered in Oklahoma City, Okla., and is designated as the National Governing Body (NGB) of Softball in the United States and a member of the United States Olympic Committee. One of the nation’s largest sports organizations, USA Softball sanctions competition in every state through a network of 70 local associations and has grown from a few hundred teams in the early days to over 150,000 teams today, representing a membership of more than 2 million. USA Softball is dedicated to providing people of all ages the opportunity to play the game they love at a variety of levels by offering recreational, league, tournament and competitive play for fast pitch, slow pitch and modified pitch. USA Softball annually conducts thousands of tournaments throughout the country including over 100 National Championships. The USA Softball umpire program is among the nation’s largest and are widely known as the best trained umpires in the game.
As the NGB for the sport of softball, USA Softball is responsible for training, equipping and promoting the six USA Softball National Teams that compete in events such as the Olympics, Pan American Games, World Championships and other international and domestic events. For more information on USA Softball, including its founding and history as the Amateur Softball Association of America (ASA), please visit, www.USASoftball.com.