OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – A year removed from being knocked off by Japan for the World Cup of Softball title, the USA Women’s National Softball team brought the title to American soil with a 5-2 win over Japan in the II World Cup of Softball.
The U.S. got a stellar performance from Cat Osterman, who tossed a two hitter and struck out 11 to compliment the U.S. offense that launched three homeruns to continue its hot hitting.
The United States struck early in the game, plating two runs in the first off Japan pitcher Ueno, who had allowed only six runs in her last seven games against the U.S. Caitlin Lowe led off with a single up the middle and advanced to second when Natasha Watley reached first on an error by Ueno.
“It feels so amazing to be here,” said Lowe, who hit .524 and tied the team high with 11 hits in six games. “Everyone was so pumped up to play Japan. I wanted to start the team on the right note, and I was really excited to be able to do that.”
Jessica Mendoza, who led the team with 16 RBIs and three homeruns during the tournament, hit a single to left field to score Lowe and advance Watley to third. A passed ball allowed Watley to score and give the U.S. a 2-0 lead. Mendoza tied Lowe with a team-leading 11 hits and was second in overall World Cup batting average with a .611 clip.
“Coming off last year and having another team beat you on your own turf really set the tone for the whole tournament,” said Mendoza of her accomplishments. “Having over 6,000 fans saying your name, I mean there’s nothing you can do but hit the ball hard.”
The U.S. expanded the lead in the fourth as Stacey Nuveman launched her first home run of the year, a shot to centerfield. With a World Cup-best .615 batting average, Lovie Jung followed two hitters later with her second home run of the tournament on a 0-2 offering.
Japan threatened with a run in the sixth when Ito reached first on Osterman’s only walk of the game. Fujimoto entered for Ito as a pinch runner and advanced to third on two straight groundouts. A wild pitch by Osterman scored Fujimoto, halting the U.S.’s chance of a shutout.
Andrea Duran led off for the U.S. in the sixth and, on a full count, crushed her second home run of the World Cup and the team’s third home run of the game over the left field fence.
Yamada, who accounted for both hits against Osterman on the night, singled up the middle and advanced to second on a sac bunt. Masumi Mishina reached first on an error by Osterman and Yamada scored, but Mishina was tagged out trying to advance to second.