Eriksen to coach U.S. softball for Tokyo Games

As softball makes its return to the Olympics next year in Tokyo, the United States will have a familiar face leading its 2020 squad.

Ken Eriksen, a mainstay with USA Softball since 2002, on Tuesday was named head coach of the U.S. women's team.

"Ken Eriksen has a proven track record in not only leading our women's national team program to the top of the podium, but also maintaining that success and developing world-class athletes," USA Softball CEO Craig Cress said in a statement. "His accolades speak volumes and, in the 11 years that softball has been off the Olympic program, he has been a constant for our women's national team. He has built upon the legacy established before him, and we are confident that he will guide the team to the gold in 2020."

After joining the national team program in 2002, Eriksen took over as head coach in 2011, three years after softball was removed from the Olympic program for 2012 and 2016. He also served as an assistant coach under Mike Candrea when the U.S. won gold at the 2004 Athens Games.

"Coach Candrea's philosophy has been one for the ages. He always puts the 'game' above everything," Eriksen said. "It's all about the 'game' and how you approach it with people that fit your approach as a coach. His simplicity and his athlete-centered approach has lent itself well to Team USA ... I am proud to be selected as the next head coach to lead Team USA to its re-entry into the Olympic Games in Tokyo 2020. It goes without saying that if you don't have people and an organization that believes in you none of this is possible."

Eriksen, who also leads the helm at South Florida, has led the U.S. to two WBSC World Championship golds (2016, 2018) and a Pan Am Games gold medal in 2011.

The 2020 Summer Olympics are July 24-Aug. 9.