Rachel Garcia and Aleshia Ocasio are among the 15 players to sign two-year contracts for Athletes Unlimited Softball – the first of its kind the league offered in its third year.
Athletes Unlimited also added a softball tournament right after the Women’s College World Series. Athletes Unlimited announced the changes on Tuesday.
Garcia was a two-time UCLA US Collegiate Softball Player of the Year and US Olympic Champion, who won a silver medal in Tokyo. Athletes Unlimited drafted her last year but she didn’t play. Now she is ready.
“After taking some time after the Olympics, I’m looking forward to starting my professional career at AU next season,” Garcia said in a statement. “I’ve enjoyed seeing several teammates and friends compete against each other in AU and I’m looking forward to playing on the same field with the best players in the game. AU is expanding the game for professional female athletes and I’m looking forward to being part of something special. “
Ocasio is the reigning Athletes Unlimited champion. The pitcher earned 2,096 points in five weeks of individual competition against 60 of the world’s best players.
Others who have signed two-year contracts include last season’s Athletes Unlimited runner-up Amanda Chidester and third-placed Kelsey Stewart. Morgan Zerkle, Gwen Svekis, Amanda Lorenz, Haylie McCleney, Tori Vidales and Caleigh Clifton are also among the two-year signatories. Previous offers were all valid for one season.
Athletes Unlimited will add AUX softball in 2022. The two-week off-season tournament will take place June 13-26 and will allow one to capitalize on the excitement of the Women’s College World Series. 42 athletes will play 18 games in a yet-to-be-announced venue in a single city.
“I think Athletes Unlimited will always do whatever it takes to increase player engagement and that goes right with that thought process,” said Cheri Kempf, vice president of Athletes Unlimited. “How can we ensure that the players in professional sports feel more secure and how can we further expand their chances? The two-year commitment is part of it, as is AUX in softball. “
About a month later, Athletes Unlimited is kicking off its third regular season. Instead of the August / September window of time it had in the first two years, the league will return to the Parkway Bank Sports Complex in Rosemont, Illinois from July 29th to August 28th. There will be 60 players. More than half of last year’s players have re-signed, including Carrie Eberle, last year’s rookie of the year and fourth-placed.
Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: twitter.com/CliffBruntAP