Ress plays for U.S. in World Sports Festival

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By Larry Goffinet

VIENNA, Austria—Tell City junior Josalyn Ress helped a United States team place second in an international fastpitch softball competition earlier July 10-12.

Ress pitched and played left field for the United States Foxes in the Friendship Games at the World Sports Festival.

The competition was sponsored by People to People, a group started by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1956. He believed that direct interaction between ordinary citizens around the world could promote cultural understanding and world peace.

Ress was previously an academic ambassador on a People to People sponsored trip to Europe. The group learned of her softball ability and asked her to play for one of two U.S. teams in this year’s age-15-18 girls softball competition at the World Sports Festival, which included nine other sports.

Five teams competed in the softball tourney. Seven were scheduled to do so, but two pulled out because of the swine flu threat.

Since softball isn’t big in Germany yet, the German team was composed of daughters of Americans stationed in Germany.

Besides that team and the two from the United States, there were also ones from Austria and the Czech Republic.

Ress’ team played six games in the three-day competition, July 10-12. After three pool games, her team advanced to the championship game of the single-elimination bracket by beating the other U.S. team and Germany.

Ress’ team then lost to the Czech Republic in the championship game.

Each team had 16 players, and there were four pitchers on Ress’ team. A requirement that each player play equal time and pitch no more than two or three innings per game may have hurt her team’s chances in the title game.

Ress pitched three scoreless innings, facing only 10 batters. But two other pitchers gave up enough runs for the Czech Republic to win by the run rule.

Ed Ress, Josalyn’s father, said the Czech Republic had a good team. “They were pretty sound, pretty fundamental.”

Josalyn Ress said the games featured “a lot more bunting, a lot more small ball,” than most of her games in Indiana.

The pitching rubber was 43 feet from home plate, which is the U.S. college distance but is three feet farther than for Indiana high schools. Ress said the longer distance didn’t hurt her, though.

“It added more movement to my ball,” she said. But “my control was still pretty accurate.”

She said the Foxes’ most exciting game of the tourney was a pool contest against Austria in which she played left field. “We came back to win 5-4 after being behind the whole game.”

Ress did not know what her final pitching or hitting statistics were for the tourney, though she said, “I hit pretty well.”

People to People events are not primarily about statistics anyway, though, but about contact between different cultures.

On that basis, Ress would rate the trip a success.

“It was really neat to meet new people and experience playing against people from different areas,” she said.

She also said the experience “kind of gave me a different attitude. I think I’m more flexible now.”