Olympic bronze medalist Japan limited the United States to just three hits en route to a 3-1 win to claim the inaugural World Cup of Softball.
Japan came out swinging hot bats, jumping on top 2-0 in the top of the second on three hits. Satoko Mabuchi and Emi Naito led off with a pair of singles. Sachiko Ito moved the runners with a sacrifice bunt, and both scored on Mikiko Tanaka’s single to center field.
“We didn’t make the plays early in the game and that put them in a good situation early on,” U.S. head coach Mike Candrea said. “People need to realize that what happened in 2004 was not by luck. These are really good teams. I laugh every time someone says that there isn’t any competition around the world because it is evident by this result there is a lot of competition.”
The United States, who lost for the second time in the tournament, had an opportunity in the fourth as Caitlin Lowe and Jessica Mendoza led off with singles. A failed sacrifice attempt by Stacey Nuveman resulted in Lowe being thrown out at third and Nuveman being doubled off at first. Kellie Wilkerson kept the U.S. hopes alive as she singled to score Mendoza following a fielding error by Mabuchi.
The United States had another scoring opportunity in the sixth following a pair of walks and a passed ball, but Yukiki Ueno worked out of the jam to go on for her first win over the United States.
Cat Osterman suffered her second international loss, giving up a pair of runs on five hits while striking out eight.