BEIJING, China (courtesy USA Softball)--- The USA Women’s Softball team garnered two victories and an Olympic record for home runs in a game on Friday afternoon at Fengtai Field. The Noon game saw the U.S. record its third shutout with a 7-0 five-inning victory over 2006 World Championship silver medal team Japan. In game two, the U.S. entered the game down 1-0 in the fourth inning after the game was suspended on Thursday due to weather. Capitalizing on Canadian errors, the U.S. took the lead in the sixth and sealed the win in the seventh with an 8-1 victory.
The two wins move the U.S. to a perfect 4-0 in round robin play with competition tomorrow at Noon against Chinese Taipei. Currently the U.S. is on an 18-game Olympic win streak and during the 2008 Games has only allowed two hits in 24 innings.
“At this level you have to have great pitching, great defense and get timely hitting and I think that is what brought us through today,” said head coach Mike Candrea. “Monica did a heck of a job against the Japan hitters and Osterman finished a game up that we needed to get in there and keep the zeros on the board so we could finally get our bats going.”
“At this stage we just have to stay healthy and get some rest,” he added. “We have to keep our mind set where it is at right now. I liked our sense of urgency today and I think the kids came out today and really wanted to send a statement.”
With Natasha Watley (Irvine, Calif.) at the plate with a full count and no outs, the game resumed at 2:33 p.m. on Friday, August 15 after being suspended on Thursday. Previously pitching was Canadian Dione Meier, but when the game resumed Canada brought in ace lefty Lauren Bay Regula.
Earlier in the day, Canada held on to defeat China 1-0 with Regula earning the victory and recording six strikeouts.
The U.S. failed to garner a hit in the fourth inning as Regula and her defense shutout the U.S.
For the U.S., Monica Abbott (Salinas, Calif.) had previously been pitching in the contest that was halted, but today lefty Cat Osterman (Houston, Texas) started in the bottom of the fourth for the visiting U.S. team. Osterman was flawless straight out of the gate striking out the side sending the U.S. to the dugout looking to muster a run.
Crystl Bustos (Canyon Country, Calif.) led off the fifth inning with a walk as pinch runner Vicky Galindo (Union City, Calif.) then entered to run. Kelly Kretschman (Indian Harbour Springs, Fla.) laid down a perfect bunt moving Galindo into scoring position. Andrea Duran (Selma, Calif.) then stepped up to the plate and watched Regula toss four balls landing her at first base. With runners on, the U.S. just couldn’t connect as a strikeout from Stacey Nuveman (La Verne, Calif.) and a foul flyout from Lovie Jung (Fountain Valley, Calif.) kept the game at 1-0 Canada.
Osterman continued to dominate from the circle before the U.S. took control of the game in the sixth with a 4-1 lead thanks to Canadian errors. Canada entered the former starting pitcher Meier to begin the sixth inning as leadoff Flowers reached on a dropped fly ball from Canadian right fielder Alison Bradley. Watley then laid down a successful sacrifice bunt before Lowe landed at first base after a throwing error from shortstop Jennifer Salling. Mendoza then connected on a fielder’s choice the caused the first out of the inning with a play at the plate that called Flowers out. The presence of Bustos and her bat then drew an intentional walk to load the bases before Meier’s second pitch to Kretschman hit her elbow pushing Lowe across home plate to tie the game.
Mendoza then crossed home plate on a wild pitch from Meier before another Canadian error by Salling pushed two more runs across for the 4-1 advantage.
The U.S. put the game out of reach adding four more runs in the top of the seventh inning. Watley connected on a base hit bunt and stole second before Caitlin Lowe (Tustin, Calif.) drove in an RBI single for the first run of the inning and first earned run of the game. Mendoza then roped a double down the middle scoring Lowe from first base before another intentional walk to Bustos put runners on at first and second. Kretschman then singled to right field to load the bases before Duran connected on a two RBI single that pushed the eventual 8-1 win.
Through four games played, Bustos and Kretschman are both 4-for-9 with Bustos having four RBI, three home runs, seven runs scored and two intentional walks.
GAME 1: USA uses long ball to over power Japan 7-0 in five innings
The U.S. used a four-run first inning attack on Friday afternoon en route to a 7-0 run-ahead victory against Japan at Fengtai Field. Extending its 17-game Olympic win streak, the U.S. connected on eight hits including a new Olympic record with four home runs in the contest; two of which came from Jessica Mendoza (Camarillo, Calif.).
From the circle, Monica Abbott (Salinas, Calif.) garnered her first Olympic victory tossing five complete innings allowing just one hit and retiring four batters via the strikeout.
“Today was a great day for our team,” said Abbott. “Our offense is so strong and that was definitely a key because they put some runs on the board early and were ready to go. I knew it was my job to just get them back in the dugout so they could keep doing what they do so well. My arm is feeling great and it’s just an amazing feeling because I am at the Olympics.”
Leading from the plate was Mendoza who was 2-for-3 with four RBI.
After a scoring drought against Canada on Thursday afternoon, the U.S. bats unleashed early on Japan taking a quick 4-0 advantage in the first inning.
Leadoff hitter Natasha Watley (Irvine, Calif.) lit up the scoreboard for the U.S. immediately driving just the third pitch of her at bat to the right fiend fences for a solo home run and the quick 1-0 lead in the first. This marked the second solo home run for Watley in just three games played. The runs kept on coming as Caitlin Lowe (Tustin, Calif.) connected on a blooper double to the right center gap before scoring on a Mendoza home run to centerfield.
With a 3-0 lead, a throwing error from Japanese shortstop Rei Nishiyama put designated hitter Crystl Bustos (Canyon Country, Calif.) into scoring position at second base before Kelly Kretschman (Indian Harbour Springs, Fla.) drove the second double of the inning to right center sending Bustos speeding home for the 4-0 advantage.
Japan then lifted starting pitcher Naho Emoto after three earned runs for righty Mika Someya.
The U.S. threatened to really open the game with bases loaded and one out thanks to walks to Andrea Duran (Selma, Calif.), a fielder’s choice to Stacey Nuveman (La Verne, Calif.), and a walk to Tairia Flowers (Tucson, Ariz.). Batting through the line up, Watley had a chance to bring in a few more RBI but a ground out to the second baseman closed the inning with a comfortable U.S. 4-0 lead.
Cat Osterman (Houston, Texas) was entered as the starting pitcher but a game time decision changed things up with Abbott taking the lead in the circle in the bottom of the 1st inning.
Breaking a U.S. 15-inning hitless streak in the 2008 Olympic Games, Japanese leadoff hitter Ayumi Karino connected on a single off Abbott to begin the first inning. However, it was all Abbott and the U.S. defense as they retired the next six consecutive batters leading into the third.
To lead the third inning, Kretschman drove the ball to centerfield for her second hit of the game but the U.S. was held by Someya and crew moving to the bottom of half of the inning.
Abbott held strong in the circle as the U.S. put two more runs on the board once again from the long ball. Flowers then reached on her first single of the Olympic Games and moved to third on two ground outs before Mendoza struck once again with a towering home run to right field. Bringing Bustos to the plate, her power again overwhelmed the Japanese pitching with a rocket line-drive home run to centerfield. This continued her Olympic home run streak to four consecutive games and 11 for her Olympic career.
With a 7-0 advantage, Jung poked in her second single of the game in the top of the fifth inning. Then Flowers earned her second walk and both runners advanced on a Japanese wild pitch but a ground out sent the game to bottom of the fifth with the U.S. defending.
Abbott gave Japan no hope of scoring a run in the fifth as the game ended due to the run-ahead rule with the 7-0 difference.
With only three games left in round robin play, the team will face Chinese Taipei tomorrow at noon looking to extend their record to 5-0. Complete coverage of this event can be found at http://www.usasoftball.com/ including recaps, box scores, blogs and photo galleries.