Surrey, B.C., Canada — It was a gritty performance by a resilient group of athletes as the USA Softball Women’s National Team (WNT) edged Australia 5-3 at the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Women’s World Championship. In a highly anticipated matchup between two strong international squads, the U.S. came out on top behind timely hitting and gutsy performances from both the offense and the pitching staff.
“Every time that Australia scored we answered back,” said Head Coach Ken Eriksen (Tampa, Fla.). “That’s the mark of a good team. Even more important than that, we had a great showing by athletes like Jazmyn Jackson, Aubree Munro, Kasey Cooper and Ali Aguilar, athletes who are in their first World Championship. Our pitching staff was set up really well, they had a great game plan going into the game with Ally Carda starting it out, Jess Moore coming in relief in the middle and Jaclyn Traina coming in to shut the door at the end. If you can have your staff set up like that, with three of the best pitchers in the world, it makes it a lot easier on the coaching staff. We can’t look past the Philippines tomorrow. We’ve got to keep taking it day-by-day in this tournament.”
The U.S. had a chance to take an early lead in the top of the first after Kelsey Stewart (Wichita, Kan.) singled up the middle and moved to second on a wild pitch. Australia’s Vanessa Stokes was able to get a strikeout for the second out of the inning before issuing a walk to Valerie Arioto (Pleasanton, Calif.) to put two runners on base. The U.S. was kept off the board, however, after a hard hit fly ball from Delaney Spaulding (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) was caught for the third out of the at-bat.
Australia was able to strike first in the bottom of the frame after a rare pair of misplayed balls by the U.S. defense. A leadoff runner would get on base after the first fielding error of the inning before Ally Carda (Elk Grove, Calif.) was able to get two quick outs with a popup and a fly ball to center. The second error of the at-bat put runners on the corners before a single to left field plated a run.
Trailing by one, the U.S. responded and then some in the top of the second inning to take the lead. Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) led off with a single, but was thrown out at second after a dropped fly ball by Amanda Chidester (Allen Park, Mich.) to center field. A walk to Kasey Cooper (Dothan, Ala.) put two runners on before Jazmyn Jackson (San Jose, Calif.) drilled the ball back up the middle, where it managed to continue through the infield to give Chidester enough time to score from second. A single from Haylie McCleney (Morris, Ala.) loaded the bases, but not for long as Stewart hit a sac fly to left field to give the U.S. a 2-1 lead.
Carda retired the Australian side in order in the bottom of the second to bring the Red, White and Blue back to the plate. After a pitching change for the Aussies, Arioto set the tone for the at-bat by belting a solo home run over the left field fence. Two quick outs setup the opportunity for a two-out rally, a challenge which the U.S. accepted and answered as Chidester blasted a ball for the second home run of the at-bat to make it a 4-1 ballgame.
The game would get interesting in the bottom of the third after a leadoff single and a hit batter put two early base runners on for Australia. This prompted a pitching change, as Jessica Moore (Sutter, Calif.) entered in relief and did what she does best. Issuing strikeouts to the next three batters, Moore was able to shut down the Aussie rally with no damage done.
The game stayed at a 4-1, U.S. lead until the bottom of the fifth when Australia pushed across another run after a string of hits. Once again, the resiliency and fight of the Red, White and Blue was shown as the Eagles plated a run in the top of the seventh to regain a three-run lead. Moultrie got things going for the U.S., putting the leadoff runner on after getting hit by a pitch. After two strikeouts from Justine Smethurst, who entered in relief in the top of the third, Jackson picked up her second RBI of the game with a single to center field to bring Moultrie home.
Australia looked to get a rally going in their last at-bat of the game after a one out single was followed by a double to push another run across. Holding a 5-3 lead, Jaclyn Traina (Naples, Fla.) entered the game in relief of Moore. Issuing a walk to her first batter faced, Traina quickly rebounded by getting the next two batters to popup to earn the save.
For the offense, Jackson had a phenomenal night at the plate, going 2-for-3 with two RBI. Arioto also demonstrated her patience at the plate, three times being issued a walk in addition to her solo home run. From the circle, Carda picked up one strikeout while allowing just two hits in her two innings pitched. Moore earned the win for the U.S., striking out eight Australian batters while allowing just two runs over four and a third innings pitched.
“The atmosphere was really cool to experience,” said Arioto. “Australia’s always good, but we stayed really calm. I think that was really important for us to not get out of control and have confidence in ourselves. We also went out aggressive. There were a lot of times where we had two outs or two strikes and we got base hits. We always stayed in the game and passed the bat, so that was great to see.”
Team USA will return to action tomorrow afternoon for their final Championship Round game against the Philippines at 5 p.m. PT. Live stats and links for pay-per-view streaming can be found 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.
About the World Baseball Softball Confederation
Headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland — the Olympic Capital — the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) is the world governing body for baseball and softball. WBSC has 213 National Federation and Associate Members in 142 countries and territories across Asia, Africa, Americas, Europe and Oceania, which represent a united baseball/softball sports movement that encompasses over 65 million athletes and attracts approximately 150 million fans to stadiums worldwide annually.
The WBSC also governs all international competitions involving official National Teams. The WBSC oversees the Softball World Championships (Men, Women, U-19 Men, and U-19 Women), Premier12, World Baseball Classic, and Baseball World Cups (U-12, U-15, U-18, U-23 and Women’s).