Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
USA Softball Announces Roster for 2004 Women's National Team
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: September 08, 2003
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Sept. 8, 2003

Oklahoma City, Okla. - USA Softball head coach Mike Candrea, who has taken a partial leave of absence from his head coaching duties at Arizona, announced today the list of 18-players, including four that have ties to the Wildcat program, 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 U.S. at the 2004 Olympic Games.

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.

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. Finch played at Arizona from 1999-2002.

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.

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. Giordano played at Arizona from 1998-2001.

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. Jung played at Arizona from 2002-03.

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 Australia in 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 Australia in 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.

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.

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. O'Brien-Amico played at Arizona from 1993-95, 1997.

Cat Osterman, Houston, Texas - Just one of two collegiate athletes on the ' 04 lineup, Cat Osterman will provide depth in the circle for the 2004 National team. Leading the 2003 Pan American team to its fifth consecutive gold medal, the left-handed pitcher recorded a 2-0 record and tossed a perfect game against Canada in the gold medal game. 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, CA. - 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 by the NCAA as the Top Collegiate Female athlete and finished the 2003 season batting .432 in the lead-off spot for Team USA.

Candrea, who will be assisted on the USA Softball staff by Ken Eriksen (Temple Terrace, Fla.) from the University of South Florida and John Rittman, (San Jose, Calif.) from Stanford University, will remain active with the Arizona program in a limited role. UA assitants Larry Ray and Nancy Evans will take over the day-to-day operation of the program during Candrea's stint as the USA Softball head coach.