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Three former ASU softball players to represent Mexico in 2020 Olympics

Mexico players celebrate after defeating Canada 2-1 during a playoff game at the Softball Americas Olympic Qualifier tournament in Surrey, British Columbia, Saturday Aug. 31, 2019. With the win Mexico qualifies for the 2020 Olympics. A Canadian win against Brazil on Sunday would also give them a berth at the Tokyo Games. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)

TEMPE, Ariz. – Dallas Escobedo Magee, Chelsea Gonzales and Sashel Palacios dreamed of playing together on the Olympic stage. That dream is now a reality.

The former Arizona State softball players punched Mexico’s ticket to the 2020 Tokyo Games with a 2-1 win against Canada at the Softball Americas Olympic Qualifier in Surrey, British Columbia on Aug. 31.

“The fate of Mexico softball was riding on this,” said Palacios, who has been competing for Mexico’s national team for the past seven seasons at catcher. “It was honestly the highlight of my career. That type of pressure and environment was the best I’ve ever been a part of.”

Mexico is one of five teams that has qualified for the six-team Olympic competition, joining host Japan, the World Champion United States, Italy (the winner of the Europe/Africa Qualifier) and Canada. The final Olympic spot will be awarded to the winner of the WBSC Asia/Oceania Qualifier, Sept. 24-28 in Shanghai.

Softball was a part of the Summer Olympics from 1996 to 2008, but it was removed for 2012 and 2016. While it has been added for 2020, it has not been proposed by the organizers of the 2024 Games in Paris so its future remains in doubt.

The Mexico National Softball Team teamed up with the National Pro Fastpitch League to practice and play together for two months preparing for the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, but the games didn’t go as planned, with losses to Puerto Rico and Canada. Facing Canada on its home soil added to the pressure, but Brittany Cervantes and Marissa Bravo delivered RBIs in front of a packed Softball City stadium to back Escobedo Magee’s three-hit, one-run, complete-game, seven-strikeout performance.

Gonzales, a second baseman who was named to All-Pac-12 First Team in 2017, said seeing Palacios behind the plate and Escobedo on the mound when they defeated Canada reminded her of their times at ASU.

“Just being behind them was kind of like a little throwback,” she said. “That was definitely a lot of fun.”

She said preparing for this moment since the International Olympic Committee announced softball was returning to the Olympics in 2020 was a tough journey, but she feels fortunate to be doing it with her former ASU teammates.

Palacios, who earned multiple honors during her four years as a catcher at ASU, including a Pac-12 Player of the Week award, said being a Sun Devil molded her into the player she is today.

“This opportunity is to show the greatness ASU instilled in me as a competitor and honestly as a woman,” she said. “I think I’m honestly hitting the peak of my athletic ability, and I owe a lot to what I learned at ASU and the woman that I became while playing there.”

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