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By Staff & Wire
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, September 9, 2003

Candrea selects four former Cats to U.S. softball squad

USA Softball head coach Mike Candrea, who has taken a partial leave of absence from his head coaching duties at Arizona, announced his list of 18 players who spend the next year preparing to defend the team's gold medal at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.

Four players chosen for the squad have ties to the Wildcat program.

Since the official Olympic roster consists of only 15 players, three of the 18 players selected will be named as alternates on Jan. 5. The final 15 will be nominated to the United States Olympic Committee as the team to represent the United States at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.

Four former Wildcats were chosen by Candrea's staff, including two-time National Player of the Year Jennie Finch, 2003 All-American Lovieanne Jung, and former outfielders Nicole Giordano and Leah O'Brien-Amico.

Finch, who saw her No. 27 jersey retired to the outfield wall of Arizona's Hillenbrand Stadium near the end of the last season, makes her third consecutive U.S. National squad.

Jung, a finalist for the National Player of the Year award last season, and an All-American selection at shortstop for Arizona, also makes her third straight appearance with the team along with Giordano, who starred with the Wildcats from 1998-2001.

O'Brien-Amico, considered one of the best clutch hitters in the game, is a two-time Olympic gold medallist for the United States squad.

Along with four UA representatives on its roster, the team is loaded with talent from other Pacific-10 Conference programs.

Former Washington standout Jaime Clark, former UCLA stars Amanda Freed, Stacey Nuveman, and Tucson native Taria Mims were also chosen to the team.

Natasha Watley, the 2003 Honda Award winner as the top collegiate female athlete in the country while at UCLA, joins the roster with all-time Bruin great Lisa Fernandez considered by many to be the best softball player in the world.

While Candrea is attending to duties during the next year as head coach of the U.S. squad, assistants Larry Ray and Nancy Evans will handle the day-to-day operations of the Arizona squad.

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