PLANT CITY, Fla. - Last Thursday at the International Softball Federation’s world headquarters complex in Plant City, Florida, 22 teams from eight different countries began what would be seven days of 16-and-under girls’ fastpitch competition. It all came to a climax this evening as Brazil defeated the South Florida (Tampa) Mini Bulls, 3-2, in the gold medal game, after Puerto Rico had posted an 8-2 triumph over the Oviedo (Fla.) Blaze in the bronze medal game.
The title game defeat was South Florida’s first loss of the tournament, having been 8-0 up to that point.
Brazil claimed the 2010/2011 Easton Foundation Youth World Cup title thanks to an RBI from catcher Daniela Fukunishi in the bottom of the sixth inning. South Florida second baseplayer Delaney Rickey singled to open the top of the seventh and was successful stealing second base, but when she got thrown out trying to steal third, it was only left to pitcher Milena Calixto to entice Macie Hand into a fly out and then striking out Amanda Green to bring the Brazil players spilling out of the dugout to join their teammates in celebration.
The Bulls had opened the game with a run in the top of the first, only to see Brazil tie the score in their first at-bat. The eventual champions went up 2-1 an inning later before South Florida tied it at two in the top of the fourth Morgan Litchfield crushed a home run over the left field fence.
Shortstop Leticia Matsuoka finished 2-for-3 with a run scored and one RBI for the winners while three different Mini Bulls had two hits apiece.
The bronze medal game saw Oviedo up 1-0 after two-and-a-half innings, but Puerto Rico scored four times – with two outs – in the bottom of the third and then, after Oviedo cut it to 4-2, put three more runs on the board an inning later for the beginning of the end. Oviedo did look like they were going to come right back, getting back-to-back singles and a walk with one out in the top of the fifth, but pitcher Lissette Garay struck out the next two batters to get Puerto Rico out of the bases-loaded jam.
Garay would finish with eight strikeouts in four-and-two-thirds innings to record the save after relieving starter Jocelyn DeLeon following an Aleshia Ocasio lead-off double, then a fielder’s choice in the top of the third.
Oviedo finished with a game-total of three errors and their last eight batters of the game went down in order, eliminating any hope for overcoming a Puerto Rico team that won six of their last seven games of this tournament.
Catcher Yahelis Munoz finished 2-for-4 at the plate and led the winners with four runs batted in. She also scored one run. Dayanira Diaz, who entered the game as Puerto Rico’s leading hitter (.500 batting average in 41 plate appearances), went 2-for-3 and scored two runs.
Losing pitcher Haley Wiseman and left fielder Kiley Dechau each went 2-for-3 for Oviedo, with Wiseman driving in both of her team’s runs.
At the end of 2011 the ISF’s IX Jr. Women’s World Championship (19-and-under fast pitch) will take place in Cape Town, South Africa, (December 6-17), with 16 national teams from five regions expected to participate.