Monica Abbott is one of the biggest stars in the softball world. One day before opening her second Olympic campaign after winning a silver medal at Beijing 2008, Abbott reviewed the status of team USA and the excitement for being part of this historic moment for the sport.
“It’s exciting. It’s been 13 years since softball has been in the Olympic Games, and its long overdue to be back,” the left handed pitcher told WBSC after a training session on Tuesday. “Softball has grown a lot, women’s sport has grown a lot across the world, so really looking forward to put on a great show and super excited to be here and have this opportunity.”
“The team has a really good feeling, good atmosphere, good energy… looking forward to stepping on the field and have the first pitch thrown, and have a first Olympic moment for everyone. There’s a ton of joy and excitement, but I think when it comes down to it, softball is still the game.”
USA opens its Olympic campaign on Wednesday, vying for a fifth consecutive Olympic medal. “Tomorrow we play Italy. We haven’t played them since the 2016 World Championship, I think. So it’s been a while. But we’re both in kind of the same situation. Lots of first-time people stepping on the stage of the Olympic Games for the first time, so I’m sure the energy and the excitement will be out of control in both sides.”
That’s why the veteran presence in the dugout becomes big, trying to calm down the nerves and put the focus in the right place. “We’ve talked a lot about enjoying the moment and being really present in the moment. But then, when the pitcher throws being able to switch back and forth from the excitement of the Olympics, the joy and the hoopla that is surrounding it, and come back near to focus, so when you step on the field, between the white lines, you are ready to play.”
As a professional pitcher, she has spent the last years playing in Japan. Abbott says that Japanese people love softball, with the professional league playing every weekend in packed stadiums. “It is really common to play in baseball stadiums because they’re able to bring in more fans. Their fans are really knowledgeable about the game, that’s another element. I’m very excited to showcase the sport, it’s really disappointing that fans are not able to come the games because we know how much they love the game of softball and how strong softball is in this country.”