- Terra Molengraff/Daily
By Colleen Thomas, Daily Sports Editor
Published August 2, 2012
After nine days of competitive softball, silver medals hung around the necks of former Michigan softball players Amanda Chidester and Jordan Taylor.
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But not Olympic silver medals.
After the International Olympic Committee voted to drop baseball and softball from the 2012 Olympic program in 2005, things changed in the world of softball. Instead of the Olympics being the peak of a softball career, Chidester and Taylor competed for gold at the International Softball Federation Women’s World Championships.
From July 15-22 in Whitehorse, Yukon, Team USA battled 15 other teams for the world title — which came down to just one inning.
Arguably the best two teams in softball in the past few years, Japan and the United States took the championship game to 10 innings, with the Japanese team knocking off the defending champion U.S. squad in a 2-1 final.
The U.S. had outscored its opponents by 11 points throughout the tournament, but struggled a bit in the playoffs. The U.S. scraped by Canada, 4-2, and beat Japan in the semifinals, but couldn’t pull off the win in the championship.
Chidester, though, wasn’t worried about the loss — Japan had beaten them in the championship of the Canada Cup earlier in the summer after the U.S. had beat them in a previous game.
“They’re a really good team and sometimes we have to look at the bigger picture — we’ve played together for a month, and Japan’s played together all year,” Chidester said. “It’s a really big difference. We competed with them the whole way, and we did very well.”
Though most of the players from the 2011 national team were on the roster, giving some needed experience to the young American squad, many collegiate players, like Chidester, made the team after tryouts in June.
And even though players from rival teams made it — Oklahoma’s Keilani Ricketts and Alabama’s Jackie Traina faced each other in the Women’s College World Series Championship games — Chidester said there was no bitterness between teammates.
“One thing he’ll never forget is (USA Softball head coach Ken Eriksen) saying that (he) didn’t pick the best players, (he) picked the best teammates,” Chidester said. “Our whole team got along so well for a group of girls who didn’t know each other that well.
“(And) Jackie (Traina) and I were roommates. I made friends for life this summer … it was awesome.”
Both Chidester and Taylor had fantastic numbers this summer, continuing their successful Michigan careers with solid performances for the U.S. National team.
Chidester finished the summer with a .325 average, with 17 RBIs and 6 home runs coming off of 13 total hits — numbers similar to her college career, where she was a slugger in Michigan’s batting order.
And Taylor, Michigan’s ace from 2008-11, went 5-0 in her eight games this summer, recording 36 strikeouts in 24.2 innings of work while giving up just five earned runs for a 1.42 ERA.
Chidester and Taylor both will have invitations to try out for next summer’s national team, as each player on the current roster gets a chance to try out again.
Taylor played in a Japanese league for 2012 while Chidester was finishing her career at Michigan — where Chidester plans to return as a volunteer to help during her fifth year of school.
“I have another year left of school, so I’ll be at Michigan still, just helping out with the team, working out, staying in shape, and getting ready for tryouts,” Chidester said. “I have to take a fifth year. I’m in physical education, so I have to do a semester of classes and do student teaching.”
As for her work with the softball team?
“I’m going to be a student manager, student assistant-type thing where I’ll be helping out at practice.”