8:39 pm - Tuesday December 12, 2017

Fernandez and 2004 U.S. Olympic Softball Team inducted into U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame

Three-time Olympic Gold Medalist Lisa Fernandez (Long
Beach, Calif.) and the 2004 U.S. Olympic Softball Team were inducted
into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame’s Class of 2012 by the United States
Olympic Committee (USOC) on Thursday evening at the Harris Theater in
Chicago. Fernandez was one of six individuals who was honored in the
individual category while the 2004 U.S. Olympic Softball Team was the
only team honored.

The broadcast of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
presented by Allstate, hosted by Jimmy Roberts and Alex Flanagan, will
be broadcasted on NBC Sports Network on Thursday, Aug. 23 at 7 p.m. ET.

CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS FROM THE INDUCTION CEREMONY AND EVENTS
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“It was such a spectacular two days seeing all my old teammates and
coaches,” said three-time Gold Medalist Lori Harrigan. “What this team
and staff did in Athens 2004 was incredible and something so magical in
the Olympic movement and Olympic history. We are so grateful for this
honor and to be recognized among some of the World’s best for our
accomplishments.”

Recognizing the ongoing support that fans give U.S. Olympians,
Paralympians and hopefuls in their training and competition, the U.S.
Olympic Hall of Fame presented by Allstate was one of the first major
sports halls of fame to incorporate fan voting into the selection
process. Fernandez and the 2004 team are the first softball athletes to
be inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame.

“I am completely overwhelmed by this honor,” said three-time Olympic
Gold Medalist Lisa Fernandez. “Never did I ever think that playing the
game of softball that I love so much would allow me to reach this level
of accomplishment. This is bigger than anything I have dreamed of.
What we have been able to accomplish as a sport is incredible. There is
no greater honor than being inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of
Fame.”

Dubbed the “Real Dream Team” on the cover of Sports Illustrated
magazine, the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team went 9-0 in Athens, a record that
included eight consecutive shutouts and four run-rule wins. In total,
the Americans outscored opponents 51-1, not allowing an opponent to
score until 55 2/3 innings into the tournament when Australia scored in
the sixth inning of the Gold Medal Game.

Members of the 2004 U.S. Olympic Softball Team are Laura Berg (Santa Fe
Springs, Calif./Fresno State), Crystl Bustos (Canyon Country,
Calif./Palm Beach Community College), Fernandez (Long Beach,
Calif./UCLA), Jennie Finch (La Mirada, Calif./Arizona), Amanda Freed
(Cypress, Calif./UCLA), Lori Harrigan (Las Vegas, Nev./UNLV), Lovieanne
Jung (Fountain Valley, Calif./Arizona), Kelly Kretschman (Indian Harbour
Beach, Fla./Alabama), Jessica Mendoza (Camarillo, Calif./Stanford),
Tairia Mims Flowers (Tucson, Ariz./UCLA), Stacey Nuveman (La Verne,
Calif./UCLA), Leah O’Brien-Amico (Chino Hills, Calif./Arizona), Cat
Osterman (Houston, Texas/Texas), Jenny Topping (Whittier, Calif./Cal
State Fullerton) and Natasha Watley (Irvine, Calif./UCLA). The three
alternate members were Jaime Clark (Tustin, Calif./Washington), Nicole
Giordano (Saugus, Calif./Arizona) and Lauren Lappin (Anaheim,
Calif./Stanford). The team was coached by Mike Candrea (Tucson,
Ariz./Arizona Head Coach) with assistant coaches Ken Eriksen (Tampa,
Fla./South Florida Head Coach) and John Rittman (Palo Alto,
Calif./Stanford Head Coach).

“First of all, what a great honor for the 2004 Olympic team and Lisa to
be inducted into the Olympic Hall of Fame,” said 2004 and 2008 Olympic
head coach Mike Candrea. “This team set the standard for our sport as
they performed flawlessly in Athens and dominated the world. They put
together a great performance by great athletes and truly committed to
the process of being the very best ever. I am so proud to have been a
part of this great group of athletes, coaches, and the USA Softball
family.”

Members of the 2004 U.S. Olympic Softball Team set 18 Olympic records in
Athens. No U.S. Olympic Team has ever given a more dominant performance
with as many team and individual Olympic records broken en route to the
Gold Medal. Among the teams records set were the most hits (73), highest
team batting average (.343) and highest slugging percentage (.559).
Fernandez set the individual record for batting average with .545 while
Crystal Bustos’ 10 RBI and five home runs were also records.

The U.S. pitching staff, led by Fernandez, had the lowest combined
earned run average (.12) in Olympic history. One run is also the fewest
allowed by a team in Olympic history. And dominant pitching was no fluke
in Athens as the team also had a .22 ERA during the “Aiming for Athens”
Olympic preparation tour, in which they went 53-0 in 30 cities.

While the team relished in on-the-field triumphs, the 2004 U.S. Olympic
Softball Team battled off-the-field tragedy. The team wore “SC” on their
helmets to honor Sue Candrea, coach Candrea’s wife, who passed away from
a brain aneurysm 10 days before the team left for Greece. Sue was
traveling with the team in central Wisconsin on the “Aiming for Athens”
tour.

“It is an incredible honor for all of us to be inducted, together, into
the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame,” said three-time medal winner Stacey
Nuveman. “Our Gold-Medal performance in Athens was truly a team effort,
which makes this team honor very fitting. We had a special group and
overcame very difficult circumstances to win in such a dominant fashion
in 2004. I could not be more proud of our team and our accomplishments.
Thanks to you the fans who voted for us, and I cannot wait until the
induction ceremony in July!”

Other honors garnered by the 2004 U.S. Olympic Softball Team were the
2004 USOC Team of the Year award and the 2004 ESPY for Best Female
Olympic Performance. Candrea was named the 2004 USOC Coach of the Year
and for her individual performance in Athens, Fernandez was a finalist
for the 2004 USOC SportsWoman of the Year award.

Fernandez is part of a rare class of U.S. Olympians who hold three
Olympic Gold Medals from three Olympic Games. In 1996, 2000 and 2004,
Fernandez led the Americans to the Gold Medal, the only pitcher to
appear in three Olympic finales. Most notably, she entered the final
game of the 1996 Olympic Games in the sixth inning and earned the save
as Team USA defeated China 3-1 for the inaugural softball Olympic Gold
Medal. Overall, she achieved a 7-2 record in the circle throughout her
Olympic career, allowing only 20 hits, seven walks and six runs (four
earned) while striking out 93 over 74.2 innings of Olympic play.

“When I heard I was a finalist for this opportunity, it meant so much to
my family, especially my mom and dad,” added Fernandez. “With my dad
being born in Cuba and my mom born in Puerto Rico and for me being
synonymous with representing the United States, this truly is the most
amazing honor. I literally yelled when I got the call and when I called
my parents we were all very emotional. Honestly, I am speechless and so
thankful for my teammates, coaches, and so many who guided me during my
career. Especially to the USOC as the support they provided with
strength training, nutrition, psychology, the training center in Chula
Vista, the list goes on and on. It really assisted our team to put on
the amazing performance that we did.”

While Fernandez is most renowned for her work in the circle, she also
recorded 76 at-bats over three Games. Fernandez hit .333 (23-for-76)
overall in Atlanta, Sydney and Athens with three doubles, three home
runs and 15 runs batted in (RBI) and 13 runs scored.

“Being an Olympic athlete, well there is no greater level,” added
Fernandez. “That every four-year cycle is something so precious as
there literally is just one moment in time. It is like an addiction
that comes with it because it is the ultimate test of greatness and you
have just a small window of opportunity to be your absolute best. It is
most special because you represent, literally your entire country. When
you go into that arena, you have millions of people cheering you on and
that sense of pride is incredible. I still remember those people who
would say thank you….and to know you did something for them in your
own element of sport is breathtaking. And to think that the sport of
softball provided me all these opportunities and experiences is never
what I expected when I first picked up the ball as a child.”

A rare pitcher/hitter, Fernandez has the distinction of holding four
individual Olympic records in addition to those she helped set as a
team. In 2000, she struck out 25 Australian batters, a record. She holds
the Olympic record for fewest runs allowed. In 2004, she achieved the
highest batting average (.545) in Olympic play and hit three doubles,
another record. Fernandez currently resides in the Los Angeles area
and is an assistant coach for the UCLA softball program.

About ASA
The Amateur Softball Association, founded in 1933, is the National
Governing Body of softball in the United States and a member of the
United States Olympic Committee. The ASA has become one of the nation’s
largest sports organizations and now sanctions competition in every
state through a network of 76 local associations. The ASA has grown from
a few hundred teams in the early days to over 210,000 teams today,
representing a membership of more than three million. For more
information on the ASA, visit http://www.asasoftball.com/
<http://www.asasoftball.com/> .

About USA Softball
USA Softball is the brand created, operated and owned by the ASA that
links the USA Men’s, Women’s, Junior Boys’ and Junior Girls’ National
Team programs together. USA Softball is responsible for training,
equipping and promoting these four National Teams to compete in
international and domestic competitions. The USA Softball Women’s
National Team is one of only two women’s sports involved in the Olympic
movement to capture three consecutive gold medals at the Olympic Games
since 1996. The U.S. women have also won nine World Championship titles
including the last seven consecutive as well as claimed five World Cup
of Softball titles.

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