The USA Softball National team opened the 2005 World Cup on Thursday evening with a shocking 2-1 loss to Canada (1-0).
Committing three errors in the field while connecting on just five hits, the U.S. (0-1) team faced its first international loss since 2002 when it suffered a 6-1 defeat to Japan at the U.S. Cup in Honolulu.
“Today we sputtered in a few areas,” said head coach Mike Candrea. “The game is about pitching, playing defense and hitting, and we failed at times in all three. It’s a game of precious outs. And as the game progressed, I felt like we were going to cash in on some opportunities and break it open. We just never could get the key hit today and it’s a good lesson for us. No matter who you are or what uniform you have on, you have to be ready to play. My hat goes off to Canada. They played a great game.”
The U.S. will look to bounce back on Friday evening when they square off against 2004 Olympic silver medalist Australia at 6 p.m.
Starting pitcher Alicia Hollowell (Suisun, Calif.) was tagged with the loss after tossing three innings allowing four hits and two unearned runs. The Red, White and Blue saw three pitchers in the game while Canada relied on the arm of 18-year old Danielle Lawrie (Langley, BC) who recorded seven strikeouts and just five hits in the game.
Canada pushed its first run across early in the top of the first inning when Kristy Odamura (Richmond, BC) reached on a muffed throw by U.S. first baseman Jaime Clark (Tustin, Calif.). After stealing second, Odamura scored on an RBI single by Sheena Lawrick (Calgary, AB) to give the Candians a 1-0 lead.
The defending three-time Olympic gold medalist bounced back, however, in the bottom half of the inning tying the game 1-1. A one out single and stolen base from newcomer Caitlin Lowe (Tustin, Calif.) gave the USA its first runner in scoring position. 2004 Olympian Jessica Mendoza (Camarillo, Calif.) came through with a single to right to plate Lowe for the 1-1 tie.
Shifting the momentum, Canada took the eventual 2-1 victory lead in the top of the third inning scoring on two hits and the second of three U.S. errors. A lead off single from Odamura followed by a Vicky Galindo (Union City, Calif.) wild throw put the Canadians in scoring position again. Doing the damage for a second time, Lawrick drove a single to centerfield scoring Odamura as Canada took a 2-1 advantage.
Struggling from the plate, the U.S. found Lowe once again in scoring position in the third, but a line out from Kellie Wilkerson (Jacksonville, Fla.) and a called third strike to Tairia Flowers (Tucson, Ariz.) halted the U.S. scoring opportunity.
The U.S. saw its only other scoring opportunity in the fifth inning when Watley reached on a Canadian fielding error and Lowe singled to left field sending Watley to second. Back-to-back fly outs however, ended the U.S. hopes to tie the game.
Lawrie and crew then closed the game retiring six consecutive U.S. batters to hold on for the 2-1 victory.
Lowe led the U.S. going 2-for-3 while Lawrick drove in both of the Canadian runs.