UCLA's Duran lone newcomer on U.S. softball team

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The U.S. national softball team announced its roster for this season Monday, with UCLA third baseman Andrea Duran the lone newcomer.

Duran, the player of the year in the Pacific-10, will join a team with a veteran core that has been together through the Olympics and last year's World Cup of Softball.

Crystl Bustos, a member of the U.S. teams that won Olympic gold medals in 2000 and 2004, will return to the team after a year away. Other members of the 2004 Olympic team that will be on the squad are outfielder Laura Berg, pitcher Jennie Finch, infielder Tairia
Flowers, catcher Stacey Nuveman, utility player Amanda Freed, second baseman Lovie Jung, outfielder Jessica Mendoza, pitcher Cat Osterman, catcher Jenny Topping and shortstop Natasha Watley.

The 17-player team will represent the United States at the second annual World Cup of Softball next month in Oklahoma City and later this year at the world championship in Beijing and the Japan Cup.

Pitcher Alicia Hollowell and outfielder Caitlin Lowe from the NCAA champion Arizona Wildcats will be on the national team for the second straight year. Third baseman Vicky Galindo and pitchers Monica Abbott and Jamie Southern will also return from last year's
national team, and Arizona coach Mike Candrea again will lead the U.S. team.

Lisa Fernandez, who took last year off while awaiting the birth of her first child, is taking another year off to be with her family.

After winning all three Olympic gold medals since softball was added at the Atlanta Games in 1996, the Americans finished second to Japan at last year's World Cup. The U.S. lost in international play for the first time in more than three years in a preliminary game against Canada and then lost the championship game to Japan.

This year's World Cup is July 13-17.

In August, the U.S. will seek an unprecedented sixth straight gold medal at the world championships and the No. 1 world ranking for the 20th straight year.