Oxford resident playing on U.S. fast-pitch softball team
By Steven Hoffman
Oxford resident John Rozich is currently in Parana, Argentina playing for the U.S. men’s fast-pitch softball national team in a qualifier tournament for the Pan-Am Games that will be held in the summer of 2015.
“It’s always an honor to play for your country,” Rozich said in an Oct. 17 interview, explaining that he was invited to try out for the U.S. squad in January of this year. He is a catcher and outfielder on the squad.
“I’ll be playing a little bit of both positions,” he said.
Success on the diamond is nothing new for Rozich. He was a standout catcher on the Oxford Area High School baseball team. He then went on to play for four years at Kutztown University, earning numerous accolades. He was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1999, and spent several years playing in the team’s minor league system.
Rozich said that he played modified softball for several years before picking up fast-pitch softball. He currently plays for the New York Gremlins, one of the top teams in the country, in the men’s Major Division, during the spring and summer. He said that he has been working very hard to compete at an elite level.
The U.S. team will compete in the men’s fast-pitch world tournament next June, followed closely by the Pan-Am Games.
Rozich played professional baseball, but he said that the challenge of hitting or playing catcher in softball is much greater at the elite level. That’s because the distance from the pitcher’s mound to home plate is just 46 feet. The best men’s softball pitchers can throw the ball in the upper-80s. Rozich said that trying to hit, or catch, a ball thrown at that speed from that distance is the same as trying to hit or catch a fastball in excess of 110 miles an hour at sixty feet, six inches, which is the distance from the pitcher’s mound to home plate on a standard baseball diamond.
The U.S. team will be in Argentina for about two weeks.
To contact Staff Writer Steven Hoffman, email firstname.lastname@example.org.