(Mankato, MN) – A professional softball team that completed its inaugural season in Mankato has qualified for the Olympics.

The Aussie Peppers of Minnesota was created in partnership with Aussie Spirit, an Australian national softball team looking to qualify to compete in Tokyo in 2020.

Spirit was dominant in last week’s qualifier in Shanghai, China, and earned the remaining qualifying bid to Tokyo after defeating tournament host China 9-3.

The Australians weren’t the only ones to benefit from the Pepper partnership.  The Peppers youth organization saw a 50% increase in fall fastpitch participation after the Aussie Pepper season.

“Our goal was to bring in world-class softball teams and players that the youth would see as role models and inspiration to dream of being a professional or making the Olympics themselves one day,” said Matt Mangulis, Vice President of Mankato Area Girls Fastpitch Association.  “To say we achieved our goals would be a huge understatement.”

Australia joins the United States, Italy, Japan, Canada, and Mexico as the only six competing nations at the games.

The Land Down Under will be vying for their fifth Olympic medal.

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