The USA Softball National team opened the 2005 Japan Cup in decisive manner, recording a dominating 9-0 run-rule victory in five innings against rival Australia. Its sixth meeting with the Aussies this summer, the U.S. posted nine hits, seven of which were extra base hits.
The U.S. scored in all four at-bats, while leftfielder Jessica Mendoza led the way with a 3-for-3 outing that saw her finish a home run shy of the cycle after posting two doubles, a triple, three RBIs, and two runs scored.
“I was just really fired up to play here in Japan,” said Mendoza. “I always enjoy coming here and Australia is a big rivalry with us. It’s always an honor to put this jersey on and today I was really feeling it and tried to keep it going.”
Jaime Clark and Tairia Flowers each added home run efforts to the victory while winning pitcher Jennie Finch stifled the Aussie offense, allowing just two hits with five strikeouts. Rightfielder Caitlin Lowe was 2-for-2 with two runs scored.
“I felt really good out there today,” said Finch. “With the warm weather, we were ready to get things going and we did. I was just trying to throw strikes and use my defense. Jenny Topping (catcher) called a great game behind the plate.”
“We got some key hits today and started early,” said head coach Mike Candrea. “We really kept the momentum going every inning. This group is competitive and always comes ready to play.”
The fiery bat of Mendoza led the U.S. offense in the first inning. A base on balls earned by leadoff Natasha Watley combined with a blooper base hit from Lowe put two runners on board before Mendoza rocketed a two RBI triple down the right field line for an early 2-0 advantage.
The U.S. added three more extra-base hits to extend the lead to 6-0 in the bottom of the second. A walk issued to Flowers put a runner on board before veteran Laura Berg roped a triple to right field to plate her. Berg later scored on a wild pitch, and a two-out base hit bunt from Lowe rallied the Red, White and Blue to keep going.
The power of Mendoza struck again with a double to right center that scored Lowe. Stacey Nuveman followed with a drive to the left center fence to score Mendoza with the team's sixth run.
Flowers extended the lead to 7-0 in the third inning when she connected on a full count solo home run to centerfield.
The U.S. offense continued its assault as Clark put the final 9-0 score on the board with a two-run home run to centerfield in the fourth.
Starting Australian pitcher Sharon Bell was tagged with the loss as Kym Tollenaere and Belinda Summerville each recorded base hits. Australia failed to put a runner in scoring position.
The U.S. returns to the field on Saturday, July 30, against China at noon before a re-match with 2005 World Cup Champions Japan at 2:30 p.m.
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