SAN LUIS OBISPO – Cal Poly softball utility player Noa Yakir will have the opportunity to become the first Mustang to appear in the Olympic softball tournament as the senior was one of 12 initial players named to the Israel Women's National Team roster for qualifying tournaments in 2019.
"Being able to represent my country in the qualifiers for the 2020 Olympics is something I've been dreaming of since I was young. When (softball) was cancelled from the Olympics, my dream – and that of others – was crushed. Now that it's back, I have a chance and it's unreal," said Yakir, who made a career high 19 appearances for Cal Poly in 2018, started 10 times at catcher, recorded a perfect fielding percentage and batted .333. "Softball isn't a popular sport in Israel. However, when I got the invite to join the national team I was excited for the opportunity. The road there is going to be tough, but it's definitely possible."
After a 12-year hiatus, softball makes its return to the Olympics for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games. Six nations will be in the field with Japan having qualified as hosts and the United States as champions of the 2018 Women's Softball World Championship. To reach its first Olympic tournament, Israel would first need to finish as one of the top six nations at the European Softball Federation Championship (June 30-July 6, 2019). Those six countries, combined with the top two teams from the 2019 Africa Softball Championship, will play off for one spot at Tokyo 2020.
Yakir's previous experience with the Israel National Team came this past summer as she competed with Under-22 squad at the European Championship in Slovakia. She has also helped mentor and coach youth players in the organization.
Yakir is the first Mustang to earn an international call-up since outfielder Amanda Sandoval (2015-18), who represented Mexico at the 2016 World Cup of Softball in Oklahoma City and the 2016 Women's Softball World Championship in Surrey, B.C.
As a program, Cal Poly returns six starters from last year's squad and opens the 2019 regular season on Saturday, Feb. 9 versus Portland State and Marshall at the San Diego-hosted USD Tournament.