OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. –The USA Softball Women’s National Team took third place following a 2-1, eight-inning shootout with Australia in the Canadian Open Fastpitch International Championship on Monday. The loss eliminated Team USA from the tournament and propelled Australia into the finals where they fell to Japan, 2-0.
Pitching dominated the first half of the semifinal matchup on Monday night. USA’s Jessica Moore (Sutter, Calif.) started in the circle and held Australia without a run for four innings of play. Unfortunately for the Americans, Kaia Parnaby of Australia had just as much success in the circle for Australia. Both teams managed base runners throughout the four innings but continued to come up short in the scoring category.
Finally in the top of the fifth, after back-to-back singles, Australia’s Godfrey picked up an RBI base hit that scored Weaver from third giving the Aussie’s a 1-0 lead. Team USA loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning but a double play followed by a strikeout ended any chances of them tying in the fifth.
Both teams reverted back to their old ways in the sixth inning going three up, three down.
Trailing by one in the top of the seventh, the Americans made quick work of Australia’s batters retiring the first three to the plate. In the bottom half of the inning, down to their last at-bat, Raven Chavanne (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) led off with a single and a Lauren Gibson (Pasadena, Md.) sac-bunt in the next at-bat gave USA a runner at second with Lauren Chamberlain (Trabuca Canyon, Calif.) stepping to the plate. With a full count, the power hitter blasted a base hit to centerfield well enough to bring the USA run around from second to score. USA had tied it at one and sent the contest to extra innings.
In the top of the eight, Australia’s McManus started at second per International Tie Breaker policy. A steal of third base quickly put her in position to score and that’s what she did on a Godfrey single giving Australia a 2-1 lead.
That score held to the bottom half of the inning and USA again found themselves in need of one run to keep the game alive. Lindsay Ziegenhirt (Elk Grove, Calif.) started the at-bat on second for Team USA and a Destinee Martinez (Corona, Calif.) single moved her around to third giving USA runners on the corners with just one out. Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) hit a grounder to shortstop in the next at-bat for the second out of the inning. Down to their last batter, Chamberlain stepped back to the plate needing hoping to duplicate her efforts from early in the fifth but on a 2-2 pitch, she popped up to shortstop for the final out.
Team USA will return home for a brief break before traveling to Puerto Rico in early August for an International Softball Federation (ISF) World Championship/Pan American Games qualifying tournament. You can follow all of the action live by visiting www.USASoftball.com.
**courtesy of USA Softball