OKLAHOMA CITY – The USA Softball Women’s National Team will look to defend its World Cup of Softball title on Sunday at 7 p.m. CT with a match up against Japan, who sealed their spot in the Gold Medal Game after defeating the USA Softball Women’s Elite Team 3-2 earlier in the day. Closing out pool play tomorrow morning at 9:30 a.m. against Venezuela, Team USA locked up the No. 1 seed with two wins today, including an 8-1 (five innings) win over the Netherlands and an 11-0 (four innings) win over China. Also seeing action in the day was the USA Softball Women’s Elite Team, who had a 1-1 outing on the day. The USA Elite picked up a 13-0 (four inning) shutout over New Zealand in their first game of the day before dropping a 3-2 thriller to Japan.
USA Elite 13, New Zealand 0 (four innings)
The USA Softball Women’s Elite Team continued their strong offensive showing at the World Cup of Softball XI in a 13-0, four inning win over New Zealand in their first game of the day. Led by two home runs from Amanda Lorenz (Moorpark, Calif.), the USA Elite combined for 11 hits.
Cheridan Hawkins (Anderson, Calif.) got the start in the circle for the USA Elite, retiring back-to-back batters with a strikeout before a fly ball to Brooke Vines in left field for the third out of the inning. Setting the pace for the U.S. offense, Ali Aguilar (Orangevale, Calif.) led things off with a walk. A bobble on a sac bunt by Allexis Bennett (Corona, Calif.) allowed Aguilar to reach second safely to put two runners on for Lorenz. Lorenz answered the challenge, blasting a ball deep over the left field fence for a three-run home run. A double, hit batter and single loaded the bases for Annie Aldrete (Monterey, Calif.), and a fielder’s choice allowed the fourth run of the inning to score.
New Zealand would get their first runner of the game on base in the top of the second inning, but the U.S. defense put in work with a double play and ground out to bring their offense back to the plate. Emily Griggs (Wichita, Kan.) led off with a single to center and swiped second to put a runner in scoring position. After advancing to third on a passed ball with two outs, a walk to Kristen Brown (Levittown, N.Y.) put runners on the corner. Madilyn Nickles (Merced, Calif.) punched a ball through the infield for an RBI single to extend the lead to 5-0.
A single in the top of the third put the sole runner of the at-bat on for New Zealand, keeping the score at 5-0, USA Elite. In the bottom of the frame, the USA Elite offense erupted for an eight-run inning. Starting off the rally was Brooke Vines (Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.), who roped a ball to the outfield for the first run of the at-bat. Vines would score the second run of the game on a passed ball. One batter later, Lorenz would connect for her second home run of the game to make it a 9-0, USA Elite lead. The scoring continued with a bases loaded walk and an Aguilar single.
Up 13-0 through three innings of play, Hawkins returned to the circle needing just three outs to clinch the “W”. Retiring the first batter with a fly ball, a walk would put a runner on base, but two more fly outs would end the game with the USA Elite taking away the shutout win.
Hawkins earned the win for the USA Elite, going the distance with two strikeouts and just one hit through her four innings of work. Offensively, Lorenz racked up five RBI in a 2-for-3 outing, both hits coming via the home run.
USA 8, Netherlands 1 (five innings)
A perfect 4-for-4 outing for Haylie McCleney (Morris, Ala.) paved the way to a Team USA 8-1 (five innings) win over the Netherlands in the annual “Pink Out” game at the World Cup of Softball XI. McCleney was flawless at the plate, collecting three singles and a walk off double in the bottom of the fifth inning.
USA’s starter Ally Carda (Elk Grove, Calif.) retired the Netherlands with three straight strikeouts to bring the potent U.S. offense to the plate. Wasting no time, Haylie McCleney (Morris, Ala.) reached on an infield single and swiped second to get into scoring position. Back-to-back walks to Kelsey Stewart (Wichita, Kan.) and Bianka Bell (Tampa, Fla.) loaded the bases, but a popup kept them at bay. They didn’t stay put long, as a bases loaded walk to Valerie Arioto (Pleasanton, Calif.) plated the first run of the game for the U.S.
Another run would cross the plate on a ground ball, fielder’s choice from Kasey Cooper (Dothan, Ala.), before a walk to Delaney Spaulding (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) loaded the bases for the second time in the inning. Making her first start of the World Cup of Softball, Paige Halstead (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) roped the ball down the left field line for a two-run single, giving the U.S. a 4-0 lead.
Two strikeouts from Carda in the circle and a ground out to third and the U.S. stepped back to the plate. After Cooper reached on a defensive miscue, Jazmyn Jackson (San Jose, Calif.) connected for the long ball over center field to put the U.S. up 7-0.
The Netherlands would get on the board in the top of the fourth inning after back-to-back singles with two outs and a fielding error would allow the runner to cross the plate. The game would hold at a 7-1, U.S. lead until the bottom of the fifth. Halstead singled to center with one out and was lifted for a pinch runner in Janie Takeda (Placentia, Calif.). A single from Jackson would put two runners on for McCleney, who hit a deep fly ball to right field to plate the go ahead run.
Japan 3, USA Elite 2
The USA Softball Women’s Elite Team suffered their first loss at the World Cup of Softball XI in a 3-2 decision to Japan. It was a nail biter of a game, as both teams stayed tied up through the seventh inning with Japan earning the eventual walk-off win.
“I’m proud of the girls and the way they competed,” said Head Coach Tairia Flowers (Tucson, Ariz.). “We put ourselves in a position to win the game, and just fell short on a couple of execution points. For this being a lot of the team’s first international experience, and for them to go toe-to-toe with a team like Japan, speaks volumes about their talent.”
Japan struck first in the bottom of the first inning after Eri Yamada doubled with a runner on third to make it a 1-0 ball game. The USA Elite bats were silenced in their first two outings before loading the bases in the top of the third as they looked to get a rally going. Starting with a leadoff single from Astin Donovan (Guilford, Conn.), Allexis Bennett (Corona, Calif.) reached safely on an infield single and Bailey Landry (Prairieville, La.) singled to put three U.S. runners on. Japan’s Yamato Fujita issued two strikeouts and a ground out to end the threat.
The bats were silenced for both sides through the third until the USA Elite took the lead in the top of the fourth. Mysha Sataraka (Honolulu, Hawaii) singled with one out to put a runner on base for Madeline Jelenicki (Santa Clarita, Calif.), who answered the call with a two-run shot over the center field fence. The 2-1 lead did not last long, however, as a defensive miscue allowed a runner to score to tie the game up at 2-2.
Both sides would threaten to regain the lead through the next few innings, with both offenses stranding runners through the sixth innings. Heading to the top of the seventh tied up a two runs each, USA Elite got their offense going as Amanda Lorenz (Moorpark, Calif.) hit a one-out double to put a runner in scoring position. Sataraka was hit by a pitch to put two runners on, but a fly out and a hard hit line drive was caught to keep the runners from advancing.
After a leadoff double from Yu Yamamoto at the top of the Japanese lineup, Carley Hoover (Clemson, S.C.) entered the circle in relief. Hoover retired the next batter with a ground out to Sam Fischer (Simi Valley, Calif.) at first, allowing Yamamoto advanced to third. Japan would earn the walk-off win, however, after a ground ball back to Hoover in the circle as Yamamoto slid into home safely.
With the loss, the USA Elite earned the No. 2 overall seed in Pool B and will face the winner of Australia vs Puerto Rico tomorrow at 4 p.m. CT. for the Bronze Medal Game.
“We had a lot of opportunities to score tonight, which doesn’t happen a lot against Japan,” said Fischer. “We didn’t push the runs across, but had opportunities and that’s what we’ll take into tomorrow. We have runs to score.”
USA 11, China 0 (four innings)
Nine runs through the first three innings helped lead Team USA to an 11-0 (four inning) win over China. Leading the way for the U.S. at the plate was Valerie Arioto (Pleasanton, Calif.), who had a 2-for-2 outing with a home run and two RBI.
USA’s offense got to work from the start as Raven Chavanne (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) did what she does best with a leadoff single. After appearing to tweak something as she ran through the bag, Chavanne left the game with Kasey Cooper (Dothan, Ala.) entering the game in her place. Kelsey Stewart (Wichita, Kan.) beat out a bunt to put two on for the U.S. before a fielding error on a bunt by Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) loaded the bases for the Eagles. A walk to Amanda Chidester (Allen Park, Mich.) plated the first run of the game for Team USA, and Arioto tacked on another run with a sac fly. The U.S. added another run after Delaney Spaulding (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) singled to bring Moultrie home.
Delanie Gourley (Lakeside, Calif.) got the start in the circle for the U.S., and kept China’s bat at bay with a pair of pop outs and a strikeout to bring the U.S. offense to the plate. Another four runs were tacked on by the Red, White and Blue in the top of the second as Janie Takeda (Placentia, Calif.) singled and came around to score on a double by Cooper. With Cooper on second, Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) blasted a ball over the right field fence for a two-run home run to extend the lead to 6-0. Two batters later, Arioto followed up with a solo shot to make it a 7-0, USA ball game.
The U.S. offense continued to push, tacking on another two runs in the top of the third inning after back-to-back doubles from Cooper and Stewart. Team USA would seal the run-rule win in the top of the fourth after Arioto reached on a one-out single, moved to third on a double by McCleney and scored on an RBI single from Spaulding. McCleney would also cross the plate after a wild pitch, extending USA’s lead to 11-0.
Needing just three outs to seal the win, Jessica Moore (Sutter, Calif.) entered the circle in relief of Gourley, and retired the side with a pair of strikeouts and a ground out. With the win, Team USA earned the No. 1 overall seed in Pool A, and will face Japan in the Gold Medal Game tomorrow at 7 p.m. CT.
“We felt good coming into the game,” said Moultrie. “Coach Eriksen had worked with us all one on one earlier in the day, giving us different approaches to take to the plate. We just tried to stay short, and make adjustments that will help us later through the summer.”
Great tickets are still available for the World Cup of Softball XI, and can be purchased outside the ASA Hall of Fame Complex at the Ticket Booth. For complete coverage of Border Battle VIII and the World Cup of Softball XI including bios, rosters, live stats, streaming and results log on to 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 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).