Dallas EscobedoBOGOTA, Colombia - The gold medal game was worth the wait after all. At 3:15 a.m. local time in Bogota, Colombia, the 2010-11 USA Softball Junior Women’s National Team (9-0) stood atop of the podium at the III Pan American Championship, receiving their gold medals following a 3-1 defeat of Canada. The game, once scheduled for 5 p.m. Saturday, started at 12:45 a.m. Sunday due to various rain delays. 

“To say that I am proud of these young woman for what they accomplished would be an understatement, ” Head Coach Karen Johns (Starkville, Miss.) said. “It takes a lot to remain focused and ready for seven or eight hours. The team did an absolutely incredible job keeping themselves in game mode from the semifinal earlier this afternoon through Canada’s last at bat. They were tired but they never let that show. They performed like champions.” 

The Americans struck first when a Lauren Chamberlain (Trabuco Canyon, Calif.) single through the left side plated Kylee Lahners (Laguna Hills, Calif.), who reached on a walk. In the third, Chamberlain doubled to make it a 2-0 advantage when she plated Hallie Wilson (North Tustin, Calif.), who tripled to center field. Lahners would score again in the seventh when she crossed the plate as Wilson was caught stealing second base. 

Dallas Escobedo (Glendale, Ariz.) improved to 3-0 in the tournament, striking out five batters while allowing three hits. Lauren Haeger (Phoenix, Ariz.) relieved Escobedo in the sixth. In her two innings of work, Haeger gave up one earned run, when Natalie Windeman singled through the right side to score Jennifer Gilbert in the seventh inning. 

The Americans secured a spot in the gold medal game after topping Puerto Rico 6-1 in the semifinal, which started around 3 p.m. In the eight inning bronze medal Game, Canada outlasted the Puerto Ricans for a 2-1 victory, advancing to face Team USA. 

All three medaling countries have now qualified for the next International Softball Federation (ISF) Junior Women’s World Championship, December 2011, in Cape Town, South Africa. Also advancing to South Africa from the Pan American Championship are fourth place finisher Brazil and fifth place finisher Argentina. 

After leadoff Lahners was hit by the first pitch of the first inning against Puerto Rico, Wilson put Team USA on the board with a two run homer to centerfield. Cheyenne Cordes (Fairfield, Calif.), who reached on a walk, also scored on an Ally Carda (Elk Grove, Calif.) single to shortstop. 

Puerto Rico responded with a Malerie Figueroa sacrifice fly to centerfield that scored Aleimalee Lopez, who doubled then advanced to third on a passed ball. The Puerto Ricans, who combined for four hits including a double would not score again, leaving runners on base in the fourth, fifth and seventh. 

Chamberlain started the third with a double to centerfield. On a Madison Shipman (Valencia, Calif.) single to second base, Chamberlain advanced to third. Shipman stole second then Cordes reached first on a walk. With bases loaded, Carda hit a sac fly that scored Chamberlain. Shipman was called out at the plate on the same play. Cordes scored on a double steal, advancing home when Shelby Pendley (Albuquerque, N.M.) stole second. 

In the fourth, the Red, White and Blue scored their last run when Lahners doubled down the left field line to plate Kourtney Savarola (Arnold, Md.), the pinch runner for Amber Freeman (Lakewood, Calif.). Freeman led off with a single to left center. 

- Courtesy USA Softball

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