College Softball Offers an Anchor for Tokyo Olympic Hopefuls

With the worldwide pandemic still dictating the rules of sports, everyone’s eyes are already set on the Summer Olympics in Tokyo this summer, and players are in heavy preparation mode. This season, the NCAA Division I softball is providing players with the much-needed training ground for the Games.

UCLA's Bubba Nickles College Softball Gets More Interesting

UCLA’s Bubba Nickles and Rachel Garcia, as well as Arizona’s Dejah Mulipola, are among the players fighting for the 15 spots on the Olympic U.S. squad. Tatyana Forbes (North Carolina) and Nicole Mendes (Oklahoma) announced they would be playing for Mexico in Tokyo, while Gabbie Plain (Washington) is among the finalists for Australia’s team.

The good news for U.S. college softball is that Nickles, Garcia, and Mulipola have all decided, together with head coach Ken Eriksen and Team USA, to stay with their college teams for the season. The coach said this was the better decision, as the three players will have daily training as part of their college program, and that will keep them sharp and ready for the Olympic squad when the time comes.

UCLA players celebrate Rachel Garcia’s three-run home run in the 10th inning against Washington during the Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City, Sunday, June 2, 2019

That way, college softball gets a much-needed boost from having these three talented players back on the field. It’s often the case in Olympic years that college programs suffer because players join their country’s training schedule, but that won’t be the case here.

Still Involved in Team USA’s Preparation

Rachel Garcia during a game for UCLA Despite their decision to stay with their college softball teams, the three girls are still actively involved in Team USA’s preparation for Tokyo. Given the pandemic, Garcia says, they’re doing their best to keep updated on everything. They have Zoom calls and team meetings, as well as the opportunity to go and train with the team anytime they are needed. Head coach Eriksen shared that he’s not at all worried about whether players will be ready to play at an Olympic level because he knows college programs really well and trusts in their efficiency.

Shaquille O’Neal Joined the Panel of The Boys to Pitch a Special Idea

During a panel for the virtual New York Comic-Con, where the cast of “The Boys” was taking questions on the show’s second season, Shaquille O’Neal surprised the actors with a special appearance. The showrunner Eric Kripke introduced Shaq as a superfan, but the Los Angeles Lakers legend maintained an increasingly stern tone while he kept demanding to be added to the show as one of the members of the superteam known as The Seven.

Shaquille O’Neal Said His Superhero Name Would Be Black Demon

Shaquille O’Neal The biggest surprises during Shaq’s cameo included the ways he played with the filter on his phone. He took the form of a demon and even showed-off lightning powers that he warned he could unleash. In his question to the panel, Shaq demanded to be part of the Seven and asked who is the major prankster while on set. He also added that his biggest power was that he could transform anytime.

Karl Urban and Laz Alonso Were Pointed Out as the Biggest Pranksters On Set

The Seven from the series The Boys Shaq said that he wanted his name to be Black Demon and that he also possesses many other powers. The cast was delighted by the humorous attitude of the former basketball player and unanimously agreed that Karl Urban was the biggest prankster of them all. The star from Dredd, Lord of The Rings, and Star Trek plays Billy Butcher on The Boys – a foul-mouthed superhero hunter. He defended himself by pointing to another prankster, his co-star Laz Alonso. Urban added that Alonso is a sly prankster who would set everything up and walk away quietly to watch the aftermath of his prank.

The show is looking at the conclusion of its second season, which will now be available on Amazon Prime. The season finale is said to feature big implications that will lead to questions about the direction of the series as it goes into its third season. The scripts for the third season are just now being written, and it is expected that it will enter its production phase in 2021.