FIBS mourns the passing of former Team Italy women’s softball manager Barry Blanchard

FIBS mourns the passing of former Team Italy women’s softball manager Barry Blanchard
Barry Blanchard, who led Team Italy to victory in the Olympic Softball Qualifier in Macerata in 2004 and the Azzurre squad to the 2004 Athens Games passed away at the age of 86 in his native Australia

Federazione Italiana Baseball Softball (FIBS) President Andrea Marcon, on behalf of the board of directors and of the entire FIBS family, expressed his heartfelt condolences to the family of Barry Blanchard when he learned of the passing of the Australian-born Hall of Famer (Softball Australia 2013 Inductee). Managing Team Italy from 2003-2004, Barry Blanchard propelled the women’s softball team to the 2004 Athens Olympic Games after winning the 2003 Olympic Qualifier in Macerata. He will remain in Italian softball history as one of Italy’s finest coaches for his keen ability to analyze each game with careful detail to every play. Perhaps more importantly was the sense of family and unity that he instilled in his players. His group of softball daughters played with heart and gave their best effort to qualify for the 2004 Athens Olympics.

After suffering a 7-0 shutout to USA pitching ace Jennie Finch on opening day of the 2004 Olympics, the Italian women’s softball rebounded with a 7-5 upset over China with former Washington Huskies collegiate All-American pitcher Jennifer Spediacci picking up the win. Despite enduring an 8-0 loss to eventual silver medalist Australia, Team Italy lost a series one-run games to Greece, Taiwan, Japan and Canada. Having prepared his squad with 39 games around the world prior the Olympics, Barry Blanchard was just shy of landing Team Italy a bronze medal.

Inducted into the Softball Australia Hall of Fame in 2013, Barry Blanchard served on the Australian national team coaching staff for 17 years. After starting in 1995 with the Aussie men's national team, he became assistant coach of the softball team until the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. Barry Blanchard later returned as a video analyst and selector for the men's national team during the 2009 and 2013 World Cups. Esteemed Austrailian softball player Taylah Tsitsikronis said, "He was an incredible man. The crazy ideas and exercises he came up with showed us how invested he was in making all athletes better. Barry meant so much to so many people and without him I wouldn't be half the player I am today.” Barry Blanchard leaves behind his wife Beryl and daughters Joanne and Nerida. Forza #Italia!

by Roberto Angotti