Redbird Softball Heading to Curaçao for Week-Long Trip
Curacao marks the fourth time head coach Melinda Fischer has taken a team on an international trip
Curacao marks the fourth time head coach Melinda Fischer has taken a team on an international trip

Nov. 16, 2012

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NORMAL, Ill. - The Illinois State softball team will travel to Curaçao, an island in the Caribbean off of the coast of Venezuela, from Nov. 16-24 for its fourth international tour in program history. The Redbirds will play in eight games against local softball competition, provide softball clinics for natives, take part in a community service activity and immerse themselves in a foreign culture through sightseeing and exploration.

"This is a great opportunity for our players and staff to learn a lot about another culture, country, way of life and way of playing softball," head coach Melinda Fischer said. "You not only learn things about people from other parts of the world, but you learn about yourselves and how you adjust to a different situation. We're definitely going to be out of our comfort zone, so I think it will be interesting to see how we adapt and bond. It gives them so many memories that they can cherish forever."

The program went to Australia two times previously, in 2000 and 2004. Then, in 2008, the squad traveled to Belize. The NCAA allows teams to take international trips once every four years, and mandates that they come during a time when there are no classes ongoing. Teams are allowed 10 extra practices than they normally would get in addition to the competition they will take part in.

"Especially this season, with having graduated some key pitchers from last year, this is a great opportunity for our young kids to get some experience in the circle," Fischer said. "We do return a relatively experienced defense around the pitching, but our pitching is definitely inexperienced. This is a great opportunity for us to continue to evaluate our team."

Curaçao, formerly part of the Netherlands Antilles, became its own country on Oct. 10, 2010. While it is still a constituent country of the Netherlands, Curaçao lost its international sport affiliation when the Antilles disbanded. Thus, the Curaçao Softball Association is currently in the midst of attempting to affiliate with international organizations and tournaments.

The Curaçao Softball Association is considered one of the oldest organizations of its kind in Latin America. The nation began playing women's softball around 1950 and men's softball in 1967. During the past 40 years, Curaçao has participated in Pan American Championships and Games, South American Championships, world championships and Olympic qualifiers. The national team came to Normal in 1990 to participate in the International Softball Federation Women's World Championship.

"The Curaçao Softball Association extends a cordial welcome to the delegation of the Illinois State University softball team, and hopes that they will have a pleasant and memorable stay on Curaçao," Julius O. Hellburg, Secretary General of the Curaçao Softball Association said. "Our softball players still remember the cold and rainy weather during the 1990 ISF World Championship, but also have fond reminiscences of the warmth of the friendly people of Normal, Ill."

The Redbirds will play two games on Sunday, Nov. 18, Monday, Nov. 19, Wednesday, Nov. 21, and Thursday, Nov. 22. Their opponents will be Pichingolo Nissan, S.B.C. The One, S.B.C. Soto, S.B.C. Paradise, S.B.C. Santa Rosa Angels and a junior baseball team

The trip will be chronicled daily through Storify, photo galleries and game recaps on GoRedbirds.com, as well as on Twitter through the handle @ISU_Softball.

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