World Cup of SoftballOKLAHOMA CITY – The USA Softball Women’s National Team fended off a strong Japan team Monday evening as the Americans won their fifth straight World Cup of Softball title. Pitcher Jordan Taylor (Valencia, Calif.) threw 5.1 innings, holding the Japanese to just two runs on three hits and one walk. She struck out five to get her first win of the event. 

“I’m really excited that our team showed that USA Softball is still strong,” said Taylor, one of the 16 rookies on the National Team roster. “I’m really, really happy that we helped USA Softball win a fifth World Cup of Softball. We like to keep things positive so we never let the thought of losing cross our minds. Our team wanted to come out and make a statement. I think that we were able to do that.” 

Team USA walked its way to an early 2-0 lead. Rhea Taylor (Buford, Ga.), Stacy May-Johnson (Reno, Nev.) and Kaitlin Cochran (Yorba Linda, Calif.) all reached on one-out walks before a fourth consecutive walk to Valerie Arioto (Pleasanton, Calif.) brought home Taylor to give the Americans a 1-0 lead. Brittany Schutte’s (Fountain Valley, Calif.) sacrifice fly then scored May-Johnson as Team USA led 2-0 after the first inning. 

Team USA added its third run in the as Cochran reached on a two-out triple to right field and came in to score on a Arioto single down the right field line. 

Japan got on the board in the top of the fifth as Yu Yamamoto walked, stole second and advanced to third on an error before coming home on a groundout by Rie Nagayoshi. 

Team USA answered in the bottom half with another run when Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) reached on an infield single and stole second before pinch hitter Megan Langenfeld (Bakersfield, Calif.) came through with an RBI single to left field to put the Americans up 4-1. 

Japan trimmed that lead in half in the sixth as Eri Yamada singled and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a throwing error. 

Team USA came back out in the bottom half and tacked on two important insurance runs. Schutte led off the inning with a single to right field and pinch runner Kelly Grieve (Ashevile, N.C.) advanced to second and third on two illegal pitches by new pitcher Kasumi Hirahara. Taylor Hoagland (Flower Mound, Texas), who had earlier defensive miscues, then connected on a full count pitch for her first home run of the World Cup to give Team USA a 6-2 lead. 

“We’ve been up, we’ve been down because of inexperience and youth,” Head Coach Ken Eriksen (Tampa, Fla.) said. “I have to commend the young lady from Texas. She made a bad play then comes back with a clutch hit that was basically the difference in the score tonight. You’ve got to keep putting your petal down to the metal.” 

Japan threatened in the top of the seventh as Yuki Hayashu reached on a pinch hit single up the middle and Yukiyo Mine walked. Reliever Chelsea Thomas (Pleasantville, Iowa) then gave way to Keilani Ricketts (San Jose, Calif.) to record the game’s final two outs. After getting Kasumo Mizoe to strike out swinging, Yamada reached on a dropped fly ball that plated two runs to cut the lead to 6-4. Ricketts got Misa Okubo to pop up to end the game and secure her first save of the World Cup. 

Team USA’s six hits all came from different players as Arioto and Hoagland each drove in two runs. For Arioto, she ended the event with 11 RBI, 10 of those coming with two outs. 

“It was a tough game all around,” Eriksen said. “It was a tough fight. You can see that these young ladies really, really wanted to please the hometown crowd. Maybe they were trying a little too hard tonight to impress a little bit but they deserved the title. They’ve been worked really hard over the last three weeks. I think they’ll take this and head into the Pan Am Games with a lot more confidence.” 

Up next the team will travel to their respective schools and training bases before rejoining in October to represent the Red, White and Blue at the Pan American Games, Oct. 17-23, in Guadalajara, Mexico. The USA Softball Women’s National Team is looking for a seventh consecutive Pan American Games Gold Medal and 10th overall. 

The seventh edition of the World Cup of Softball is tentatively set to return to the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City from June 27-July 2, 2012. An official announcement will be made in December. 

Other World Cup of Softball VI action: 

Third-Place Game

Canada (4-2) 4, Australia (3-3) 1

Canada finished third at the World Cup of Softball with a 4-1 win over Australia. With the victory, the Canadians avenged their Sunday loss to the Aussies, which cost the team their first-ever appearance in the Championship Game. 

Australia struck first in the third-place game, scoring a run in the top of the third inning when Stacey McManus singled to shortstop to bring in Clare Warwick. Warwick reached base on a single up the middle then advanced to second courtesy of a Stacey Porter single to third base. With Chelsea Forkin reaching on a fielder’s choice to shortstop, Warwick advanced to third. 

Canada struck in the bottom half when Jenn Yee reached on a fielding error by first baseman Jodie Bowering scoring Melanie Matthews. Matthews reached on a fielder’s choice then advanced to second on Victoria Hayward’s sacrifice bunt. 

In the fourth, Canada broke the 1-1 open with two runs. The first batter to face Justine Smethurst, who came into pitch for Australian starter Kaia Parnaby, Danielle Lopez singled up the middle to score Jenny Gilbert. Hannah Schwarz followed with a bunt that scored Joey Lye, who reached base on a bunt. 

The Canadians added to their 3-1 lead with another in the sixth. With Lopez on third, Hayward singled through the right side to advance her home. Lopez and Hayward both finished the game going 3-for-1 with one run scored and an RBI. 

Jennifer Caira earned the win for Canada, her third of the tournament. She pitched a complete game, allowing eight hits and two walks while striking out two. 

Fifth-Place Game

Great Britain (2-4) 6, Czech Republic (0-6) 1

Great Britain improved one spot in 2011 to fifth-place after finishing in sixth at the 2006 World Cup of Softball with an 0-6 record, as they defeated the Czech Republic 6-1. Czech scored a run in the top of the first off a sacrifice fly and would record three hits on the game while Great Britain recorded 10 hits. 

A sac fly by Eva Rendlova scored Czech’s sole run of the game, plating Tereza Jakesova who walked to be the first base runner of the game. She stole second and reached third on a singled by Lenka Jaklova. 

Great Britain scored three in the first which saw starting pitcher Vendula Draha work 0.1 innings and record the loss. Kristi Yoshizawa led off the inning with a single bunt and was followed by Laura Thompson who walked. A double by Stacie Townsend scored Yoshizawa. After an intentional walk was issued to Jessica Legendre, Leah English singled for another Great Britain run brining about a pitching change for the Czech Republic. Kristyna Kalinova came in to pitch the remainder of the game. A walk issued to Naomi Jones was good for the third run, giving Great Britain an early 3-1 lead. 

Two more runs were put up in the second off an error by Czech Republic shortstop Eliska Pojerova when she dropped a ball and Townsend and Thompson scored. The Brits put up the final run of the game in the bottom of the fourth off a Legendre single that scored Townsend. 

-Courtesy of ASA/USA Softball

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