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USA Women's Olympic Softball Team, Black Hills Gold and Philip softball team together

Olympic relative ... Two time world fast-pitch softball champion Jennie Finch posed with distant relatives Philip’s Jordyn and Conner Dekker after the USA Women’s Olympic Softball team played the Black Hills Gold Team in Rapid City on July 15.

The USA Women's Olympic Softball Team played against South Dakota's Black Hills Gold team in Rapid City at Pete Lien Memorial Field on July 15 at 7:00 p.m.

The Philip girls softball team was part of the sold-out audience. Philip's 25-member team is coached by Arthur McIllravy, Jeremy Noteboom and Edna Knutson. "We felt fortunate to take along 20 of our team members and 10 others to attend this once in a lifetime opportunity," said Knutson.

The final score was seven to zero at the end of nine innings, though seven innings are standard play. Following the game, the Olympic team signed autographs.

Jennie Finch is a two time world champion fast-pitch pitcher and is heading to her second Olympics. She was a member of the 2004 Olympic gold medal softball team. She is married to Casey Diagle who plays for the Minnesota Twins. Finch happens to be a cousin to Philip's Brad Dekker and the Philip girls got to meet her at the softball game in Rapid. Several Philip players had her softball glove signed by Finch.

The Black Hills Gold team came back out onto the field, signed autographs, and posed for a photo with the Philip team. Members of the Philip girls' softball team who attended included: Shelby Bergeson, Misty Johnson, Kianna Knutson, Samantha Johnson, Jordyn Dekker, Kaci Olivier, Katlin Knutson, Ashton Reedy, Amanda McIllravy, Tyana Gottsleben, Sterling Ellens, Mandy Klingman, Tyshia Ferguson, Ellie Coyle, Destannie Noteboom, Annabelle McIllravy and Madyson Morehart. Others who attended were Barry Knutson, Tanya McIllravy, Krystal and Matrix Noteboom, Micky Reedy, Jerry and Dalton Ellens, Sandy Bergeson, and LeeAnn and Conner Dekker.

Knutson said, "We have players ranging from age seven to 15 years old. When we started coaching, the team was slow pitch. We've been working on gradually changing it over into a fast pitch team, and the girls are doing a great job. There are 25 girls playing on the team this year, so the program is growing as well."

Knutson said, "We will have a parents-vs-girls softball fun event on Saturday, July 26, starting at 6:30 p.m. There will be two games, the first with the girls 11 and under against their parents and the second with the girls 12 and older against their parents. We may have some crazy rules like the parents having to hit left handed if they are right handed, or even running backwards."