Swinging for success
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The euphoria of sliding on her playing jersey never gets old for University of Iowa assistant softball coach Stacy May-Johnson. She'll get another opportunity as she begins her second go-round with the USA Softball Women's National Team.
"It was a great honor last year, and it is a great honor this year," says May-Johnson, who completed her second season as the Hawkeyes' hitting coach in 2012. "I don't think it is ever going to get old putting on the uniform, competing for the United States, and for everybody back home in Iowa and Nevada."
UI assistant softball coach Stacy May-Johnson begins her second stint with the USA Softball Women's National Team later this month. Photo courtesy of UI Athletic Communications.
Last season, May-Johnson went to the national team's selection camp in search of a roster spot. This season, the former Iowa player has already secured her place on the team, but she's going to the training camp June 10-12 in Ashland, Ohio, with the same sense of urgency she had a season go.
"I am going at it the same way as I did last year," says May-Johnson, who helped the Hawkeyes to a Big Ten Conference runner-up finish this season. "There is still a tryout, and I am at the tryout. I need to be ready to go from day one because you want to go out there, play well, and make a statement."
May-Johnson left her mark on Team USA in her debut season. She led the Americans to gold medals at the World Cup of Softball VII and the Pan American Games and a runner-up finish at the Canadian Open Fast Pitch International Championships.
She went 33-for-79 to post a .418 batting average, ranking first on the team in hits and third in batting average. May-Johnson also had team highs in RBIs (30), runs scored (26), and home runs (six). Her performance led to her being named the 2011 USA Softball Female Athlete of the Year.
May-Johnson says there are pieces returning that should allow the team to replicate its success from a season ago. Individually, she expects nothing less from herself.
"The team is only going to get better," says May-Johnson. "The core of the team is still under 25 (years old) and when you're that age, there is only one thing to do, and that is to get better.
"For me, I have a lot more experience than the average player on the team, which is still to my benefit. Last year, I played well, but I did what I have been doing for a long time. I fully expect to do that again."
May-Johnson and Team USA play three exhibition dates before playing in the World Cup of Softball VII June 27-July 2 in Oklahoma City. The national team is also slated to compete July 4-9 at the Canadian Open Fast Pitch International Championship in Surrey, B.C., Canada, and July 13-22 at the International Softball Federation Women's World Championship in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada.