Bunkyō, Tokyo, Japan — A total of 31,448 fans packed the Tokyo Dome this evening to catch game one of the USA vs Japan All-Star Series, in which the USA Softball Women’s National Team (WNT) fell 5-1 to Japan the Amateur Softball Association (ASA)/USA Softball announced today. The first-ever softball event to be held at the historic Tokyo Dome, the U.S. and Japan will continue the series tomorrow and Saturday in Sendai, Japan.
“Anytime we play Japan it’s going to be a tough game,” said Assistant Coach Howard Dobson (Orange, Texas). “It comes down to who makes that one big play or that one big hit, and they got the right swing at the right time. We had the bases loaded a couple times, the timely hitting just didn’t come through for us. It’s a three game series, so we’ll come back tomorrow and learn from what we did today. We just need to take it one inning at a time.”
Japan got on the board early in the bottom of the first inning, plating a run after a one out infield single was followed by back-to-back singles. Japan continued to add pressure with two runners in scoring position with only one out, but Kelsey Stewart (Wichita, Kan.) came up with a big play to throw a runner out at home on a ground ball to second base before a fly ball to Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) ended Japan’s at-bat.
The U.S. offense was retired in order through the fourth inning, when the Red, White and Blue would load the bases for the first time in the game. Starting off the U.S. at-bat was Kasey Cooper (Dothan, Ala.) who got things going after reaching on a walk. A single from Amanda Chidester (Allen Park, Mich.) put two runners on for the Eagles and a single from Haylie McCleney (Morris, Ala.) loaded the bases for Team USA. With runners on each bag, Japan was able to grab a hard hit fly ball from Delaney Spaulding (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) for the third out of the inning.
Team USA’s Jessica Moore (Sutter, Calif.) continued her strong showing in the circle for the U.S. through the bottom of the fourth inning. After issuing a leadoff single, Moore came back with a strikeout, fly out and a popup to Spaulding at shortstop to bring the U.S. back to the plate.
The ballgame would become tied in the top of the fifth inning when the U.S. plated a run to make it a 1-1 game. After a leadoff walk to Bianka Bell (Tampa, Fla.), Janie Takeda (Placentia, Calif.) beat out a bunt to put two runners on. Entering the game as a pinch runner for Bell, Jazmyn Jackson (San Jose, Calif.) advanced to third and Takeda moved to second on a sac bunt by Moultrie. With two runners in scoring position, Stewart hit a deep fly ball to center field, with the speedy Jackson tagging up and scoring off the sac fly.
With one out in the bottom of the fifth, Japan put a pair in scoring position with singles. An RBI single plated the first two runs of the inning for Japan and a two-run home tagged on two more. Jaclyn Traina (Naples, Fla.) then entered the circle for the U.S. With two outs and a runner on second base, Traina retired the final out of the inning with a ground out to Stewart at second, with Team USA now trailing 5-1.
The U.S. would load the bases again in the top of the sixth inning after a leadoff single by Chidester and a hit by pitch to Arioto. A one out walk to Spaulding loaded the bases, but the U.S. would be retired with a popup and fly out to left field to keep them from bringing in additional runs.
Japan went down in order in the bottom of the sixth on a pair of strikeouts from Traina and a popup to Stewart. Down to their final at-bat, the U.S. would get one runner on base after a walk to Stewart but a pair of fly outs ended the game with Japan getting the 5-1 win.
Moore suffered the loss, issuing three strikeouts and five runs through four and two-third innings in the circle. Traina pitched the remaining one and a third innings, issuing two strikeouts. Yamato Fujita earned the win for Japan, giving up one run and two walks while issuing two strikeouts.
The U.S. and Japan return tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. JST (4:30 a.m. CT) for a rematch at Shellcom Sendai. Live stats can be found online at ASAUSASoftball.com.
About ASA/USA Softball
Founded in 1933, the Amateur Softball Association (ASA)/USA Softball is the National Governing Body of Softball in the United States and a member of the United States Olympic Committee. One of the nation’s largest sports organizations, ASA/USA Softball sanctions competition in every state through a network of 70 local associations and has grown from a few hundred teams in the early days to over 165,000 teams today, representing a membership of more than 2.2 million. ASA/USA Softball is responsible for training, equipping and promoting the six USA Softball National Teams that compete in international and domestic competitions. The USA Softball Women’s National Team is one of only two women’s sports involved in the Olympic movement to capture three consecutive gold medals at the Olympic Games since 1996. The U.S. women have also won nine World Championship titles as well as claimed eight World Cup of Softball titles. For more information about ASA/USA Softball, please visit http://www.asausasoftball.com.