Young Professionals casino night; Jet to Jetty

By Geoff Maleman

When the Summer Olympics in London kick off later this month, the world’s best women softball players won’t be there. 2012 marks the first time since 1996 that softball will not be part of the Summer Olympics.

But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t some incredible softball being played right now.

As of July 17, the United States is 4-0 in the International Softball Federation Women’s World Fastpitch Championships in Whitehorse, Canada. And the United States team is being led by Loyola Marymount University’s Sam Fischer.

Fischer is hitting .400 with two home runs and eight RBI (runs batted in) in the team’s first four games, but she was almost passed over for a spot on the team.

Fischer led the nation in batting average and on-base percentage and finished second in slugging percentage as a senior at LMU, but she wasn’t even among the 25 initial finalists for USA Softball player of the year. She wanted to play in National Pro Fastpitch after graduation but wasn’t selected in the draft held during the college season. Instead, she spent her time searching out details on open tryouts and sent emails introducing herself to the professional teams.

When Fischer finally got an email inviting her to try out for Team USA, she admittedly saw herself as a long shot to do anything more than make an appearance at the selection camp.

“I was trying to think very realistically because I played in a very small conference at a very small school,” Fischer told ESPN. “I knew I had to go out and have a pretty good tryout to prove myself there.”

A former California travel ball teammate, Team USA catcher Jessica Shults, said of Fischer, “She made a pretty big impression, just hitting the ball hard. She had like a triple, a double, just a ridiculous tryout. But it is tough. You get one at-bat against each pitcher, and that’s how they decide. It’s nerve-racking.”

Only five spots were up for grabs that weekend, the bulk of the roster already having been filled with players who competed for the national team last summer. Still, one of the five went to Fischer, the player almost nobody knew.

But anyone who watches the United States team play now likely knows Fischer, if only because she seems to be impossible to miss. Every time the camera pans to the Team USA dugout, it seems to find her making a face, dancing or just generally enjoying herself.

“I’m more of a goof; I don’t know if you’ve gotten that vibe or anything,” Fischer deadpanned during an ESPN interview. “But on the field I’m always messing around, dancing around, just being totally goofy. That was something I really had to control [while trying out] because I didn’t know, maybe they didn’t like that, maybe the girls would react to that weirdly. So I was pretty serious [about] softball at the camp, and then when I made it, I started to let loose a little bit, mess around in the dugout, dance a little bit.”

Pool play among the teams from 16 nations ends on Thursday, July 19, and Team USA, currently tied with China atop the Section A standings, could find itself earning a high seed in the championship round, which concludes with the gold medal game at 4 p.m. Sunday, July 22.

Every game of the tournament can be viewed live online, and previously played games are archived on the Sports Canada website at www.sportscanada.tv/worldfastpitch2012.

YOUNG PROFESSIONALS CASINO NIGHT

The LAX Coastal Young Professionals will host their first annual Casino Night Gala at 6:30 pm. Friday, Aug. 5. The evening aboard a Hornblower yacht will feature gaming, prizes, a silent auction, food, drinks and friendly competition. The event’s grand raffle prize will be a three-night stay in a three-bedroom condo at Lake Las Vegas Resort. Admission to the gala is $70 per person, and sponsorships are still available.

In affiliation with the LAX Coastal Area Chamber of Commerce, the mission of the LAX Coastal Young Professionals is to promote business networking, community involvement, and the advancement of professionalism. The group supports a “young-at-heart” attitude while working to enhance networking abilities, strengthen leadership skills, and develop meaningful relationships in business.

The committee hosts networking events, coordinates community service projects, and engages in educational opportunities in order to advance and strengthen business skills and have fun.

For more information and to RSVP for this event, (310) 645-5151 or Rachel-Ann@laxcoastal.com.

JET TO JETTY

The Airport Marina Counseling Service has announced that former Los Angeles Dodger and Angel Jay Johnstone will serve as the grand marshal for this year’s Jet To Jetty.

Johnstone was an outfielder who played for eight teams during his 19-year major league career.

As an Angel in 1970, he preserved Clyde Wright’s no-hitter against the Oakland Athletics in the seventh inning by catching a Reggie Jackson fly ball 400 feet from straightaway center field, just in front of the wall.

As a Dodger, he slammed a pinch-hit, two-run home run in Game Four of the 1981 World Series against the New York Yankees, which rallied the Dodgers from a 6-3 deficit to win 8-7. The victory also enabled the Dodgers to tie the series at two games apiece. Los Angeles went on to win the next two games and the World Series.

Jet to Jetty, which includes a 5K run/walk, a 10K run and a 5K fun family bike race, will take place at Dockweiler State Beach in Playa del Rey the morning of Saturday, Aug. 25. There will also be a kids’ fun run, face painting, as well as an expo, entertainment and prizes, food and drinks. All proceeds will go to benefit the Westchester-based Airport Marina Counseling Service.

Early registration fees for both the 10K and 5K run is $35. Information, (310) 670-1410 or jill@airportmarina.org. To register for Jet to Jetty, www.W2Promotions.com.

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