RIO de JANEIRO, Brazil — With a 10-0 shutout over Cuba, the USA Women’s National Team secured the top spot in its pool at the XV Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The team (3-0) has allowed no hits in three games and will play tomorrow against the winner of Canada vs. Venezuela, as continues its quest for the program’s eighth Pan American gold medal.
The Red, White and Blue offense exploded in the first inning for four runs off six consecutive hits. Caitlin Lowe (Tustin, Calif.) and Natasha Watley (Irvine, Calif.) both singled to shortstop. Jessica Mendoza (Camarillo, Calif.) then followed with a single to load up the bases.
Crystl Bustos (Canyon County, Calif.) put up the fourth hit in the first with a single to left field that scored two runs and forced Cuba to make a pitching change with no outs. Andrea Duran (Selma, Calif.) continued the offensive explosion with a single to centerfield that plated Bustos and Kelly Kretschman (Indian Harbour Beach, Fla.), who had singled, and gave the team an early 4-0 lead.
Two more runs scored in the second after Bustos sent a shot over the right field fence that plated Watley, who reached on a single down the first base line.
“It was great to get out there and play today when our game times have been so unpredictable this week,” said Bustos of her four-RBI performance. “It was great to get an early lead on the Cuban team as well as a first-place spot in our pool.”
The team tacked on three more runs in the fourth when Laura Berg (Santa Fe Springs, Calif.) reached to lead off the inning and scored on a double to left centerfield by Mendoza. Watley, who had singled, scored when Kretschman reached on an error, and an RBI single by Duran plated Mendoza for the final run of the inning.
Lovie Jung (Fountain Valley, Calif.) gave the U.S. its final run with a solo shot to centerfield in the top of the fifth.
Cat Osterman (Houston, Texas) started for the team in the circle, her first start of the tournament. She struck out the first five batters, and after walking the sixth, she did not allow any other base runners to reach the remainder of the game.
Osterman struck out the side in the final inning, finishing the game with 14. With her no-hitter, the USA pitching staff has not allowed a hit in 17 consecutive innings of play.
“I think we played well today and it was good for me to be able to get out there and play,” said Osterman. “I felt comfortable out there and the field was in better playing condition. I am excited how the team is playing and I can’t wait to get into medal rounds tomorrow.”
The U.S. will play either Venezuela or Canada tomorrow at 4:00 p.m. (2:00 CST). The U.S. has already faced both Venezuela and Canada during the month of July. The Americans beat Venezuela 13-1 at the Canada Cup and 9-1 at the KFC World Cup of Softball, and they posted a 7-0 win over Canada at the World Cup.