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U.S. Blanks China to Claim Pool A Top Spot

 BEIJING, China — With over 10,000 fans packed into Fengtai Stadium, the USA Softball Women’s National Team defeated host China, 2-0 to secure the top spot in Pool A at the XI ISF World Championships. 

Cat Osterman, who has become the go to pitcher for the USA, picked up her third win in six games to lead the USA to a perfect 6-0 record in pool play. China fell to 5-1 with the loss. 

The USA, who scored 10 runs in the first inning last month against China at the II World Cup of Softball, settled for only one run in the first inning that would prove to be enough. Caitlin Lowe led off with an infield single and eventually scored on a wild pitch that shattered the glass behind home plate and delayed the game 30 minutes. 

China’s Zhou Yi led off the bottom of the first with an infield single, but was picked off first base by USA catcher Stacey Nuveman to end any possible scoring threat. 

Andrea Duran led off the second with a double to right field and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Tairia Flowers. The U.S. failed to capitalize on the scoring opportunity as she was left stranded when Lovieanne Jung struckout and Laura Berg grounded out to second. 

China put up a threat of its own in the home half of the second. Lu Yi led with a triple down the right field line, the only extra base hit allowed by the U.S. pitching staff in six games, but Osterman stepped up her game notch a groundout and a pair of strikeouts. 

Both teams remained hitless until the Red, White and Blue got things going in the top of the sixth inning. Jessica Mendoza led off the inning with a single to right field and Nuveman reached on a fielding error by the third baseman. After a pitching change, Duran singled to left center to plate Mendoza for the final run of the game. 

In the bottom of the seventh with the all of the fans on their feet trying to will their team to a come back, Osterman was credited with the final three outs as she fielded a grounder back to her, snagged a line drive back up the middle and struck out the final batter. 

“It was a very good ball game. Cat pitched a good game, throwing a shutout, and we put some runs on the board. Tonight was just a great fastpitch game at the highest levels,” said head coach Mike Candrea of his team’s victory. “We had some opportunities tonight that we didn’t capitalize on but overall we had a good performance.” 

The USA will close out pool play on Saturday when they face South Africa at 2:30 a.m. CT. No matter the outcome of tomorrow’s game, the USA will face Australia in the first round of the playoffs at 10 p.m. CT on Saturday.