They came from New Mexico, New York, Texas, New Jersey, Michigan, Minnesota, North and South Dakota, Missouri, Massachusetts, Iowa, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Washington, Northern and Southern California. Through rain and sleet and snow, the USA National team candidates traveled, for one day of competition amongst each other, to Mark Daily Field at Irvine, California, Saturday, January 10, 2015.
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Assistant Coach Nick McCurry left 10 inches of fresh snow in his home state of Ohio, spending two hours just to get to the airport to catch his flight to Orange County, California. Players from the colder regions of the country had similar travel challenges. But weather issues did not deter these athletes, nor did some morning rain in usually sunny Southern California. They made it to California, and spent the day on Saturday slugging it out, tossing their best pitches and working to show the USA coaching staff that they should be on the national team roster for 2015.
The selection camp was the final opportunity for the USA Men’s Coaching staff to evaluate twenty seven of best fastpitch players in the country, who came from near and far, to compete for one of the seventeen spots on the final USA National Roster for 2015.
The announcement of the final USA Men’s National Team roster of 17 is expected during the coming week.
The summer of 2015 shapes up to be a very big year for men’s fastpitch, with not one but two international competitions at its highest level of play, making a roster spot even more coveted than usual. The International Softball Federation (ISF) will hold its World Championship, from June 26 to July 5, in Saskatoon, Canada. Less than two weeks later, Toronto Canada plays host to the Pan American games, a multi-sport competition which includes Men’s Fastpitch, from July 12-26, 2015.
This summer’s ISF World Championship at Saskatoon this summer marks the first for Denny Bruckert and his staff, named early last year by USA Softball to run the program. The squad’s first foray into international competition was just a few months ago, in October 2014, in the Pan-Am qualifier in Parana Argentina. The team played well in that tournament, led by ace pitcher Tony Mancha of Las Cruces, New Mexcio, finishing fourth, and earning a berth to the Pan American games to be held in Toronto this summer.
The City of Irvine which hosted this camp is located near John Wayne Airport in Orange County, about a half-hour down the road from Disneyland. This past summer, the ISF held its women’s World Cup at Bill Barber park, hosting teams from eight countries: Canada, Chinese Taipei, Japan, Mexico, Philippines, Puerto Rico, USA, and Venezuela.
The team had five pitchers in camp, Tony Mancha (Las Cruces NM), Gerald Muizelaar (Grand Forks, N.D.), Josh Johnson (El Paso TX), BJ Hunoff (Sioux Falls, S.D.) and Jim Hartman (Sioux Falls, S.D.).
The coaching staff on hand for the Selection Camp included head coach Denny Bruckert, and assistants Greg Hicks, Gregg Leather and Nick McCurry.
Candidates at the camp:
(Pitchers shown in bold)
Mark Aranda Las Cruces, N.M.
Kris Bogach Hugeunot, N.Y.
Freddie Carmona San Antonio, Texas
Kevin Castillo Long Beach, Calif.
Frank DeGroat Jr. Ringwood, N.J.
Nate Devine Sonora, Calif.
Tyler Dudley Battle Creek, Mich.
Lucas Goring Minneapolis, Minn.
BJ Gulick Minneapolis, Minn.
Jim Hartman Sioux Falls, S.D.
Chris Hineline Columbia, Mo.
Mike Hoadley Worcester, Mass.
BJ Hunoff Sioux Falls, S.D.
Josh Johnson El Paso, Texas
Bryce Kay Jefferson City, Mo.
Derrick Kennedy Converse, Texas
Tony Mancha Las Cruces, N.M.
Chris Miljavic Easton, Mo.
Gerald Muizelaar Grand Forks, N.D.
Nick Mullins Toms River, N.J.
Matt Palazzo Pleasant Hill, Iowa
Bobby Rosthenhausler Tucson, Ariz.
Pat Sagdal Richland, Wash.
Rylan Sandoval Castro Valley, Calif.
Marcus Tan Union City, Calif.
Chase Turner San Jose, Calif.
Derrick Zechman Watsontown, Penn
Denny Bruckert, Gillespie, Ill.
Greg Hicks, Bakersfield, Calif.
Gregg Leather, Staten Island, NY
Nick McCurry, Ashland, Ohio