You won't see softball in the Olympics this year. The sport was removed from both the 2012 and 2016 Games, though there is an effort to have it returned in 2020.
But you will see top-level play right here in the Triangle when the Carolina Diamonds return home for games this Thursday and Friday at Five County Stadium in Zebulon. It's a great opportunity - especially for girls who play softball and other sports - to see female athletes on a bigger stage. Players also will be at Marbles Kids Museum on Tuesday for a meet and greet.
The Carolina Diamonds is the newest franchise in the National Pro Fastpitch, which started in 1997 to give elite female fastpitch players the opportunity to pursue a professional career. The Diamonds are competing in their first full season. Coach Lisa Navas is the former head coach at N.C. State. And the team includes Brittany McKinney and Danielle Spaulding, who both played at Carolina.
The team returns from a two-week road trip to Chicago and Ohio, which boosted the team to third place in league standings. The team now will face former Olympians as they compete against the Chicago Bandits this week and Florida's USSSA Pride next week. In addition to Zebulon, games are scheduled in Hickory, Lexington and Kannapolis.
At Five County Stadium, games are set for 7:15 p.m., Thursday and Friday. Tickets range from $9 to $15.
They'll play the USSSA Pride of Florida, which includes seven former Olympians - Gold Medalists Natasha Watley, Cat Osterman, Jessica Mendoza and Kelly Kretschman; Silver Medalists Caitlin Lowe, Lauren Lappin and Andrea Duran. The Carolina Diamonds players include Canadian Olympian Caitlin Lever; along with College World Series Champions: Katie Burkhart, Annie Lockwood, Amanda Locke and Jazlyn Lunceford.
“Being involved, especially this time of the year with the Olympics, you are looking at the best of the best, and this is the best we have at this point being able to compete,” Navas said. “They are having a good time with it.”
Click here for more information about the team and to get tickets.
Team players also will be at Marbles Kids Museum in Raleigh from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., Tuesday, for a meet and greet. Kids can meet with the players, practice their fast pitch, run the bases and take part in other softball fun. There also are some special ticket deals for Marbles members. Tuesday's meet and greet and activities are free with admission to Marbles, which is $5 per person. Click here for details.