By Matthew Girard
Killeen Daily Herald
It's not very often that an Olympic national team comes to town, but the city of Killeen will get the chance to see one up close and personal today as the 2008 USA Women's National Softball Team will make a stop to play an exhibition game in preparation for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, China.
Killeen is one of 46 stops Team USA will make on its "Bound 4 Beijing" tour.
"It's definitely an honor that we are a tour stop," said Killeen Parks and Recreation Superintendent Megain Douglass. "This is one of the last tour stops we'll have due to the fact that softball is out (as an Olympic sport) after 2008."
Team USA is looking for its fourth consecutive gold medal and will play in more than 60 exhibition games against NCAA Division I schools, regional All-Star teams and some international competition before heading to China.
The national team's opponent will be an All-Star team made up of college players from Texas and will be coached by former Killeen High and current Mary Hardin-Baylor softball coach Kasey Blomquist. The game starts at 7:30 p.m. at the Killeen Athletic Complex.
Blomquist said she is excited to get the chance to square off against Team USA.
"I've always wanted to be around the Olympic team, so having this opportunity is good," Blomquist said. "I know the girls are really excited."
Douglass said having a local coach gives the exhibition game some "home-town flavor."
"We're very excited for Kasey to coach these players and hopefully have the opportunity to put up a game against the Olympic team," Douglass said. "They (Team USA) obviously dominate, but with the team that she's comprised we'll have something to go against the Olympic team."
Fans will get the chance to see softball legends Jennie Finch and University of Texas' own Cat Osterman along with 13 other members of the women's national team.
Blomquist said having Team USA in town gives younger softball players a chance to see their idols.
"It lets these girls (in the area) see what softball is and it gives them an opportunity to fulfill their dreams," Blomquist said. "I think it opens up the softball to the city of Killeen."
Douglass said Team USA will show future softball players how hard they work to be the best team in the world.
"They (younger girls) all hopefully want to be an Olympic player, if not at least a collegiate player," Douglass said. "I think it's every little girl's dream to do that."
The gates open at the KAC at 5 p.m. with Team USA taking batting practice at 5:30 p.m. After the 7:30 p.m. game, the national team will sign autographs for 45 minutes.
Contact Matthew Girard at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7569.