The Bahamas to take part in Olympic qualifier
The Bahamas will be one of 15 countries looking for direct qualification in the 2020 Olympics in a team sport come August and September.
The Americas’ main qualifying event for the 2020 Olympics in softball, the 2019 Pan American Championships, is set for August 25 to September 1, in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada, and The Bahamas is set to take part.
The top two finishers will qualify directly for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.
Already gearing up for competition, the Bahamas Softball Federation (BSF) has selected a shortlist of players to be invited to workout sessions. They include pitchers Mechelle Moss, Thelia Stevens, Brendia Ferguson, Ramona Hanna, Valencia Gibson, Antonia Cooper, Ashanti Darville, Sari Albury and Taylor Cartwright; infielders Larikah Russell, Shawnte Curtis, Kendalia Turner, Eilyah Johnson, Tyra Evans, Mia Turner and Daria Cambridge; catchers Dreshate Bareus, Shervette Taylor, Sophie Cartwright, Aliay Ferguson and Dachyes Stubbs; and outfielders Tyrice Curry, Denasjah Hield, Dewayna Pratt, Latonia Bowleg, Melinda Johnson, Javanthe Rose and Jenna Malone.
Shane Albury will be the head coach of the squad, and he will be assisted by Yvonne Lockhart out of Grand Bahama, along with Nerissa Lockhart and Anthony Bullard from New Providence. Bobby “Baylor” Fernander will serve as the team manager.
The tournament was initially set to feature 16 teams, but the United States has been exempted as a result of that nation already qualifying for the 2020 Olympics in softball. By virtue of winning the 2018 Women’s Softball World Championship in Chiba, Japan, the United States of America earned an automatic qualifying spot for the 2020 Olympics.
The 2019 Pan American Championships in Surrey will determine two of the remaining five spots for the women’s softball tournament at the 2020 Olympics.
“We have selected the best kids from JBLN (Junior Baseball League of Nassau), Freedom Farm, the NPSA (New Providence Softball Association) and one or two from the Family Islands,” said Fernander. “We have all of them in one workout pool, and they are going to be working out on a regular basis to see who will be selected. Most of these girls are school kids. Shervette (Taylor) and Larikah (Russell) may be the two oldest persons on the team, and they’re still very young. If we could get these girls to work out on a regular basis, we believe that we will be able to compete in Surrey. We’re going to do our best,” he added.
The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC), which governs softball and baseball worldwide, and was instrumental in getting both sporting disciplines re-instated in the Olympic program for 2020, is the official sanctioning body for the 2019 Pan American Championships. All of the powerhouse nations in this region, with the exception of the U.S., will take part.
Softball is returning to the Olympics after being discontinued as a medal sport since the 2008 games in Beijing, China. Along with baseball, the joint effort is one of five new additions to the program of the 2020 Olympics, with no guarantee it will return in 2024. Japan automatically qualifies as the host nation, the U.S. qualifies as the world champion, the Americas qualifier will send two teams to the Olympics, one team will qualify from the Europe-Africa qualifier which is set for July 23-28 in Utrecht, Netherlands, and the other team in the Olympics will be decided on the results of the Asia-Oceania qualifier which is set for September 24-29, in Shanghai, China.
Surrey played host to the Women’s Softball World Championships in 2016, and now is set to host another major event. A total of 15 countries from the Caribbean, South America, North America and Central America, including host country Canada, are taking part in the week-long tournament.
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