Baseball, softball still taking swings for 2020 Olympics

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Baseball and softball were taken out of the Olympics after the 2008 Games, and there's no guarantee that the sports will return.

But there have been several efforts to get the sports back in the Olympics by the time the 2020 Games roll around.

Current and former softball players often have expressed their displeasure over the sport's removal from the world's sporting stage.

"It's very disappointing," said Lauren Lappin, a member of the 2008 U.S. Olympic softball team. "I've fought to get it back. It's an unparalleled experience to compete in the Olympics. It's the best sporting event in the world. Softball should be in the Olympics"

Lappin plays for the Pennsylvania Rebellion, a team in the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF), a professional women's softball league. Since softball's removal from the Olympics, the NPF is the only option for women to continue playing after college.

"It's disappointing and frustrating," said Jenn Salling, another former 2008 Olympian who plays for the Rebellion. "Young girls have dreams of playing in the Olympics."

"It's a total shame to deprive the public of a great sport to watch," said Rebellion coach Rick Bertagnolli.

There is a major push to keep baseball and softball's 2020 Olympic hopes alive. Organizations such as the World Baseball Softball Confederation plan to fight for the two sports to be represented in 2020 and beyond.

"I'd love to see it come back. You love to see your sport be in the Olympics," said Cheri Kempf, a former Olympic softball coach and player and the current commissioner of the NPF. "I shouldn't have seen it come out. There's a lot of political reasons for this."

It came as a surprise to most of the members of the Rebellion because the 2020 Olympics will be held in Tokyo. Japan has the amenities to accommodate both sports, which are largely popular there.

In September 2013, the International Olympic Committee voted on whether or not sports such as baseball and softball (being treated as a joint sport), squash and wrestling should have a place in the 2020 Olympic Games.

Baseball and softball did not make the initial cut, while wrestling won the vote to return to the games. The IOC will make the final decisions in December at an Agenda 2020 meeting.

Ryan Petrovich: rpetrovich@post-gazette.com or Twitter @RyanPetrovich.


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