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August 18, 2021 |

Athletes Unlimited Softball Returning To Rosemont Aug. 28

By DION MARTORANO | Journal & Topics Sports

You saw a number of them competing in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics for their respective nations, but soon you will be able to see them up close at Parkway Bank Sports Complex in Rosemont.

Team USA softball Olympians Cat Osterman, Haylie McCleney and Hannah Flippen are among the players set to return for the second Athletes Unlimited Softball League, which kicks off Aug. 28. 

Team Canada’s Victoria Hayward, Team Mexico’s Danielle O’Tootle and Team Italy’s Erika Piancastelli were also among the list of players to commit earlier this year to return to the league.

Osterman, one of the most decorated and legendary softball players of all time, won the inaugural MVP award last season after earning 2,408 points over the five-week season. The unique league plays softball unlike any other before them. Osterman also announced earlier this year it will be her final season as a pro softball player, retiring as one of the best players ever.

Osterman’s teams last year went 13-2 despite a rotation of new players each week. 

“I’m really excited to return for Athletes Unlimited’s second year,” Osterman said in a release on Athletes Unlimited earlier this year. “Year one was an incredible experience, on and off the field, which made playing one more time an easy decision. I look forward to another amazing time and ending my career once and for all here in the U.S.”

Also announcing their return to the league this year are Aleshia Ocasio, Haylie Wagner, Jessica Warren and Megan Wiggins.

Instead of having traditional teams like the Chicago Bandits, players select their teams each week, depending on the four highest scoring players in the league each week. Players get points for each thing they do, like hitting a double, triple or home run, or stealing a base. Each helps the players accumulate points.

The full explanation of the rules and scoring system of the league can be found at https://auprosports.com/softball/how-we-play-softball.

Athletes Unlimited is the only pro sports league where player selection is led by the players themselves. A total of 20 players from the league last year were members of an Olympic roster this year. That doesn’t include two alternates on the U.S. roster.

The league featured 57 players last season and are aiming for 60 players this season.

The list of players expected to play can be found at https://auprosports.com/softball/athletes.

A total of four rotating teams will play from Aug. 28-Sept. 27. The league plays six games a week for five weeks for a total of 30 games in the season. Teams play three games a week and then a draft will decide the new teams the following week.

Two games a day are scheduled for Aug. 28, Aug. 29 and Aug. 30 for the first week. The league continues the same format with two games a day Sept. 4, 5, 6, 11, 12, 13, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26 and 27. Games are played Saturday-Monday each week.

Rosemont’s Toni Calmeyn, who served as the Chicago Bandits general manager from 2017-21, said that the Athletes Unlimited softball league will be sticking around Rosemont at Parkway Bank Sports Complex for 2021, 2022 and 2023 after a successful 2020 debut season.

The league was unable to have more than just a few fans in 2020 due to COVID-19, but they look to open the gates for the 2021 season with regular attendance.

List Of Olympians Who Played In Athletes Unlimited Last Year:

Team USA: Cat Osterman, Amanda Chidester, Haylie McCleney, Janie Reed, Aubree Munro, Kelsey Stewart, Ali Aguilar, Michelle Moultrie, Hannah Flippen (alternate), Taylor Edwards (alternate)

Team Mexico: Danielle O’Toole Trejo, Anissa Urtez, Tori Vidales, Sashel Palacios, Amanda Sanchez, Sydney Romero, Taylor McQuillin

Team Canada: Victoria Hayward, Sara Groenewegen, Kelsey Jenkins

Team Italy: Erika Piancastelli, Greta Cecchetti