Team USA softball players stay creative in the lead up to Tokyo

Pitcher Monica Abbott #14 of the United States pitches against Venezuela in Beijing 2008.  (Photo by Vladimir Rys/Bongarts/Getty Images)
Pitcher Monica Abbott #14 of the United States pitches against Venezuela in Beijing 2008. (Photo by Vladimir Rys/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Team USA's official roster for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 was announced in May, with both veteran players and new faces making up the the 18-member squad (15 players and three replacement players).

However the team have yet to get together to practise with softball events across the USA yet to return to competition.

As they are set to face their strongest rival Japan next year, all eyes are on the USA on how they are preparing to reclaim their crown in Tokyo 2020.

While team training sessions are on hold, they are finding creative ways - individually - to stay fit and mentally strong in the lead up to the Games.

Here's a look at what some of the team are doing now with their free time.

Monica Abbott

Veteran player Monica Abbott - who will make a comeback in Tokyo - is back running and training outside. Aside from this, she has been active online giving interviews and also conducting her own classes on mental pre-game routine via Facebook.

For Abbott, staying positive is key to getting through these unprecedented times the world is facing.

"Don't use your energy to worry. Use your energy to believe," she posted on Twitter.

Abbott also spoke in a Sport Development series from mlb.com, where she talked about how she would use nutrition strategy to become a better player.

"I really need to find out what's important for me."

"How many calories do I need to build muscle if I want to build an explosive athlete or do I want to lean out more because I'm working out to be faster.

"As I have grown in my professional career...I've had the opportunity to alter those or change those based on what worked for me."

Cat Osterman

The two-time Olympian, who came out of retirement specifically for next year's Games, has been pitching on her driveway and a private facility to stay fit. Although, she admits that dealing with COVID-19 has been quite challenging.

"As the pandemic has continued it’s become harder, especially the uncertainty of when it will end," Osterman wrote wrote for Teamusa.org.

"For now, as we continue to stay close to home, I’ll keep walking my neighbourhood each week and keep on tending to my new hobby in the backyard."

But she also said nothing will keep her from dreaming about the Olympics.

"When it’s finally time to board the plane for Tokyo, I’ll look over at my teammates, most of whom are making their Olympic debuts, and tell them to soak it all in."

In the meantime, Osterman is also active doing virtual coaching clinics and other youth softball clinics in Corpus Christi, Texas.

Valeire Arioto

Known as a great hitter, Arioto has been a member of the national softball team for eight years, and is one of the athletes who'll be making their Olympic debut next year.

Here, Arioto has temporarily switched her bat for a paddle board whilst watching a beautiful sunrise in Lake Tahoe.

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Morning Bliss 🌅💗✨

A post shared by Valerie Arioto (@valeriearioto) on

Ally Carda

Originally from El Grove California, Ally Carda, who has been part of the national team since 2015, takes positive thinking seriously. She has been doing daily meditation to stay in balance.

"These past 5 months or so have been difficult for a lot of us. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought all of us uncertainty, worry, loss, stress, and I’m sure a plethora of other emotions. We all have struggled in our own ways," Carda wrote in her personal blog with allycarda.com in July.

"What I have learned during all of this is even though we don’t have control over anything that happens around us, we do have control over what is most important: We have control over ourselves. I have always known this, but once I began to learn this on a deeper level and really practise this, I began to feel more at peace. I began to let go of anything that didn’t align with how I wanted to live my life."

Haylie McCleney

For McCleney, training far from her teammates is manageable, as long as her siblings can play substitute.

When your brothers pitch, make sure to catch the ball..and she did!

Madilyn 'Bubba' Nickles

The 22-year-old is remaining in shape through yoga, playing catch in the yard with her father and doing the grocery runs.

“I’ve had my moments of feeling anxious and a little bit sad and depressed because I feel like I can’t get anything done, but that’s just kinda how the world has to be,” Nickles told Dailynews.com back in April.

“It is good to be aware that my life isn’t just softball. It’s a lot more than that."

But while it is hard to stay focussed during these challenging times, her faith in God combined with the company of her pooch Benji keep her mood in check.

Kelsey Stewart

Stewart might not compete in the Olympic Games this year, but she took advantage of competing in her first ever #FauxOlympics playing watermelon darts with Holderness family, a family of American YouTubers.

Find out if Stewart's pitching skills made the cut.