OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – The USA Softball Women’s National Team returned to action on Tuesday night just two days after falling to Japan in the finals of the General Tire World Cup of Softball. Following a Monday traveling to Surrey, British Columbia, Team USA took the field against the California A’s in the Canadian Open Fastpitch International Championship. Despite falling down 1-0 early, the USA bats rallied late and the Americans came out on top 4-1.
The A’s jumped on the board first in the top of the opening inning when Lyndsay Doyle homered off of USA starting pitcher Cheridan Hawkins (Anderson, Calif.) but the lefty pitcher tightened the clamps and struck out two batters to close out top frame of the inning. The USA hitters couldn’t get much going in the bottom half and Team USA trailed 1-0 after one inning of play.
Hawkins struck out three consecutive batters in the top of the second but the USA bats continued to struggle in the bottom half going three up, three down.
Pitching won out on both sides in the third inning and the 1-0 California A’s lead remained until the USA National Team opened things up in the bottom of the fourth. Raven Chavanne (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) led off the at-bat with a single to give Team USA a base runner. Two batters later, a walk for Valerie Arioto (Pleasanton, Calif.) gave the USA two runners on and a groundout from Amanda Chidester (Allen Park, Mich.) advanced the runners to second and third before big hitting Amber Freeman (Lakewood, Calif.) came through with a clutch double to score both Chavanne and Arioto and give Team USA a 2-1 lead.
Later in the at-bat, with Freeman still standing on second base, Taylor Thom (Cedar Park, Texas) doubled to bring her around and give Team USA a 3-1 advantage.
Hawkins began the top of the fifth with some success as the Oregon Duck struck out one batter and retired another on a groundout but back-to-back singles gave the California A’s hope and prompted USA Head Coach Ken Eriksen to make a pitching change.
Arioto moved to the circle in the top of the fifth in relief of Hawkins and promptly retired the first batter she faced to end the half inning. On the offensive side, the Americans continued to pick up the pace scoring their fourth run of the day. Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) led off the inning with a single and an RBI double two batters later from Lauren Gibson (Pasadena, Md.) scored Moultrie and gave Team USA the 4-1 lead.
That score would hold the remainder of the game as Team USA secured the win in their Canadian Open Fastpitch International Championship opener. Hawkins, who threw 4.1 innings, finished with nine strikeouts and picked up her first win as a member of Team USA. The Americans will return to action on Wednesday with a rematch against Japan who recently beat them to take home Gold at the General Tire World Cup of Softball. Visit www.USASoftball.com for all of the action from the 2013 Canadian Open Fastpitch International.
**courtesy of ASA/USA Softball