OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – The USA Softball Women’s National Team found themselves on the losing side for the first time in the 2013 Canadian Open Fastpitch International Championship on Sunday.

The Americans dropped a 5-0 decision to Japan and now must move on to play Monday at 8 p.m. ET against Australia. The winner of Monday’s game will move on to face Japan for the tournament championship at 10:30 p.m. ET on Monday.

Pitching dominated from the start in USA’s Sunday night matchup with Japan. Aside from a Misa Okubo single in the top of the second, both teams failed to get anything going offensively through the first three innings of play. Another three up, three down inning for Team USA in the top of the fourth preserved the scoreless game entering Japans fourth at-bat.

The biggest scoring threat came at that point in the game came in the bottom of the fourth when back-to-back Japan singles were followed by an intentional walk to load the bases. The rally prompted a pitching change for Team USA as Cheridan Hawkins (Anderson, Calif.) entered the circle and managed two straight outs to end the threat.

In the top of the fifth, Amanda Chidester (Allen Park, Mich.) lead off with a base hit that ended any hopes of a third straight Yukiko Ueno no hitter. Two batters later, Nicole Hudson (Webb City, Mo.) singled for the second USA hit of the game and gave the Americans runners on the corners but Rhea Taylor (Buford, Ga.) was picked off at third to end any chances of a USA run coming in the fifth.

In the bottom of the fifth, Japan exploded for five runs off of four hits and a USA error to open up the game. When the dust settled and the inning came to a close, Team USA found themselves trailing 5-0.

Following the huge Japan scoring run, the sixth inning resumed to a pitching duel with both teams failing to record a hit. The Americans found themselves in need of five runs in the top of the seventh if they wanted to extend the game any further but two strikeouts and a fly out dashed any chances and Team USA fell to Japan 5-0.

With the loss the Americans move to 6-1 in the Canadian Open Fastpitch International Championship and will now face the winner of Canada and Australia who played later in the evening on Sunday. The elimination game will take place at 7 p.m. CT on Monday.  You can follow all of the action live by visiting www.USASoftball.comwww.USASoftball.com.

Team USA 7, Canada 4

OKLAHOMA CITY –The USA Softball Women’s National Team will move on to play Japan on day two of the playoff portion of the Canadian Open Fastpitch International Championship on Sunday the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America and USA softball announced today. Team USA used three runs in both the fourth and sixth innings to lock up the win over cross-border rival Canada on Saturday.

As the visiting team on the scoreboard, Canada batted first in the game and took advantage of the opportunity to take an early lead. With two-outs, Jenn Yee took a Sara Nevins (Pinellas Park, Fla.) pitch deep over the fence to make it 1-0 Canada. In the bottom half of the first, Raven Chavanne (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) singled to give Team USA a base runner but fellow Lady Vol alum Lauren Gibson grounded into a 4-3 double play to end the inning.

Both teams went three up, three down in the second and the score remained 1-0 heading into the third inning.

In the bottom of the third an error and hit by pitch gave Team USA two runners but the inning came to a close when Taylor Thom (Cedar Park, Tex.) was thrown out at third for the third out. Canada managed two base runners of their own in the top of the fourth but also failed to convert any runs and the score held.

With one swing of the bat Lauren Gibson (Pasadena, Md.) broke the scoring drought in the bottom of the fourth when she connected on a 2-1 pitch for her second home run of the tournament. Later in the inning, with Amanda Chidester (Allen Park, Mich.) and Valerie Arioto (Pleasanton, Calif.) in scoring position, a Thom double scored both giving the USA a 3-1 lead entering the fifth inning.

Unfortunately for the Americans, the lead was short lived. In the top of the fifth a hit batter and a walk gave Canada two base runners and USA Coach Ken Eriksen decided it was time to change pitchers opting for Jessica Moore (Sutter, Calif.). Moore struck out the first batter she faced but Victoria Haywood doubled in the next at-bat to score both Canadian base runners tying the game at three. In the next at-bat, Jenn Yee singled to bring Hayward home from second helping Canada to reestablish the lead.

USA started the bottom of the fifth with leadoff hitter Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) at the plate. Moultrie, who is typically known more for her slapping and speed than home runs, showed her versatility with a solo homer to tie the game up for the third time on the night.

Another three up, three down inning for Canada in the sixth sent the 4-4 tie into the bottom half of the inning. Determined to break the knotted score, Amber Freeman (Lakewood, Calif.) singled to put a USA base runner onboard and in the next at-bat Thom doubled to score the run and break the tie. Later in the at-bat a passed ball allowed Thom to come around to third and a wild pitch shortly after brought her home to give Team USA a 6-4 advantage. The scoring didn’t end there however, minutes later Chavanne singled to score Moultrie pushing the lead to 7-4. When the inning was finally complete Canada found themselves trailing and down to their final at-bat to get back into the game.

Nevins returned to the circle to start the seventh for Team USA and earned the win by closing out the game with three strikeouts. The lefty finished the contest with 5.1 innings pitched, allowing just four runs and recording eight strikeouts.

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