Two Big Ten Softball Graduates Earn Place On 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Roster
Michigan’s Amanda Chidester and Nebraska’s Taylor Edwards to represent Team USA at 2020 Tokyo Olympics
ROSEMONT, Ill. — Two softball standouts who graduated from Big Ten Conference schools have been named to the 2020 U.S. Olympic Softball Team, it was announced Sunday by USA Softball.
Michigan’s Amanda Chidester was chosen for the 15-player Team USA roster, while Nebraska’s Taylor Edwards is one of three replacement athletes for the American squad, which earned its berth in the Olympic tournament more than a year ago as the winner of the 2018 World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) World Championship.
Chidester was a two-time All-America infielder and Big Ten Player of the Year (2011, 2012) and three-time first-team All-Big Ten honoree (2009, 2011, 2012), as well as a 2012 Academic All-Big Ten selection and Big Ten Medal of Honor recipient. After leading the Wolverines to four Big Ten titles and a berth in the 2009 NCAA Women’s College World Series, Chidester graduated from Michigan in 2012 with her bachelor’s degree in physical education. This past summer, she was named the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) Player of the Year, Offensive Player of the Year and Home Run Award winner after leading the Chicago Bandits to the NPF Championship Series.
Edwards also was a two-time All-American and two-time first-team All-Big Ten selection as well as the 2014 Division I Catcher of the Year while at Nebraska, helping the Cornhuskers to a share of their first-ever Big Ten title in 2014, along with a spot in the NCAA Women’s College World Series in 2013. Edwards graduated from Nebraska in 2015 with her bachelor’s degree in sociology and is in her second season as a volunteer coach at her alma mater.
Two other Big Ten softball graduates — former Minnesota pitcher Sara Groenewegen and former Wisconsin infielder Kelsey Jenkins — could also be headed to Tokyo as members of the Canadian Senior National Team, which secured its Olympic invitation with a runner-up finish at the 2019 WBSC Softball Americas Championship. The final Canadian roster is expected to be announced later this year.
Next year will mark the first Olympic softball competition since 2008, with the United States having earned gold medals in 1996 (Atlanta), 2000 (Sydney) and 2004 (Athens) before finishing as the silver medalist at the 2008 Beijing Games. The United States and Canada will be joined in next year’s Olympic tournament — which will take place July 22-28, 2020, at Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium and Yokohama Baseball Stadium — by the host country, Japan (the 2008 gold medalist), as well as Australia, Italy and Mexico.
Michelle Venturella, a 1996 Indiana graduate, was the first Big Ten alum to earn an Olympic softball medal as a member of the 2000 U.S. squad that won the gold in Sydney. She was joined on that team by current Michigan assistant coach Jennifer Brundage, who was named to Team USA two years after joining the Wolverines’ staff.