NORTH MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) — The Australian National Softball team punched its ticket to the 2020 Olympics after taking the top spot at this year’s Asia/Oceania qualifier.
Earlier this week, we caught up with the National Pro Fastpitch’s Aussie Peppers of Minnesota, a partnership between Softball Australia and the Mankato Peppers.
“It was really special. We got to know the Aussies really well, became friends with them," Aussie Peppers GM Matt Mangulis said. "They’re a great partner for the Peppers, we were rooting for them the whole time. To see them qualify, it was like watching your best friend make it in. It was special to our American players to help this country achieve their goals.”
Many of the players suiting up for the Australian national team spent this summer playing at Caswell Park in North Mankato, as part of the NPF, competing against other teams that partnered with national squads.
“The NPF really is the best players in the world," Mangulis added. "It’s a tough season, you’ll see some of the best pitchers and hitters in the world. It pushed the Aussies to get better, and improve every at-bat, improve every situation they had that they came up against.”
Many of the youth softball players in the area had a chance to not only watch world-class softball, but be part of the action.
“Everybody got a chance to be part of it, and part of the team," Mangulis continued. "The kids were inspired by that, and going forward, we hope that we can keep inspiring kids to do great things.”
Australia joins the United States, Italy, Japan, Canada, and Mexico as the six squads competing in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.
Australia took the bronze medal back in 2008.