USA Softball Team Has Crimson Tint

When the United States Softball Team takes the field for the Pan American Qualifier being held in Maracay, Venezuela this week, it will have a distinctly Crimson Tide feel.

Alabama Coach Patrick Murphy, who will serve as an assistant coach for Team USA, and All-America catcher Ashley Holcombe are on their way to Maracay, with a stop off in Miami on Wednesday.

"Ashley and I are very excited for the opportunity to represent the United States over the next two weeks in Venezuela," Murphy said. "It's the chance of a lifetime and we both are going to relish the experience. We have a great group of coaches, support staff and players coming with us to Maracay."

The event is a big deal for Team USA and the other 21 teams involved as it qualifies teams for both the Pan American Games in 2011 and the World Championships in 2010.

Team USA opens play on July 31 against the British Virgin Islands with games against Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador and Brazil among the 10 pool games the United States will play before reaching the medal round on August 7.

On the other side of the bracket Canada and the homestanding Venezuelan team stand as the top competition. Murphy has insider knowledge of the Canadian squad after serving as Team Canada's hitting coach at the 2004 Olympic Games.

Holcombe played in 62 games and made 60 starts as a senior in 2009, en route to being named an All-American. The Fayetteville, Ga., native was named to the SEC All-Defensive team and to the SEC All-Tournament team. Holcombe led the Southeastern Conference by an impressive margin with 10 pickoffs from behind the plate.

While Murphy and Holcombe are busy in South America, Tide All-American Brittany Rogers will be also be busy, playing for Team USA. Rogers, a four-time All-American centerfielder for Alabama from 2006-09, is playing on the U.S. squad competing at the Japan Cup in Sendai, Japan, July 31- Aug.2.

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