Oklahoma City — The USA Softball Women’s National Team captured the World Cup championship for the second straight time Monday night with a 3-0 win over Japan Monday night at Hall of Fame Stadium.
A strong offense and dominant pitching bolstered the U.S. to a 6-0 mark, scoring 40 runs and only surrendering two during the third annual event.
The trend continued Monday night.
Tairia Flowers (Tucson, Ariz.) took the first pitch of her first at-bat and ripped it over the center field fence to give the team a 1-0 lead in the second inning. It marked her third home run of the World Cup, which tied the tournament record set by Jessica Mendoza (Camarillo, Calif.) last year.
“I’ve been aggressive at the plate and hitting good pitches the entire tournament,” Flowers said. “I like knowing that I can help my pitchers out.”
Crystl Bustos (Canyon County, Calif.) added to the single-run lead in the fifth inning when she capped a nine-pitch at-bat with a two-RBI double to left field that scored Natasha Watley (Irvine, Calif.) and Mendoza.
“I was just looking for a pitch I could hit hard,” Bustos said. “The pitcher and I could have gone all night if I had to.”
Bustos ended the tournament batting .538 with eighth RBIs and two home runs.
Cat Osterman (Houston, Texas) made her second start at the World Cup after throwing against China in pool play. She came out strong with 10 strikeouts through four innings, including seven straight strikeouts between the second and fourth innings.
“I was sticking to my game plan until they made the adjustments, which they never did,” Osterman said. “Our defense was where they needed to be and made plays when they needed to be made.”
Osterman set a new single-game World Cup record with 13 strikeouts, passing her own record of 11 she set last year.
Japan started to make a rally in the top of the seventh inning when Aki Uenishi drew a walk. The rally was short-lived, however, when Uenishi violated the “look-back rule” by not committing to a base when the ball was in the pitcher’s circle.
“The runner was jumping off the base,” Osterman said. “As soon as I got the ball in the circle I turned and looked at her.”
Japan finished 4-2, with both losses coming to Team USA.
The Red, White and Blue will be making its last stop of the summer when it heads to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in search of a sixth-straight gold medal at the 2007 Pan American Games.