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Cathi Aradi

USA Gold, USA Blue Both 3-0 at Canada Cup

USA Gold and USA Blue both remained unbeaten through the first three days of the Canada Cup at Surrey, British Columbia.

USA Gold, which will represent the US at the Pan Am Games beginning July 23, opened Canada Cup play Saturday with a pair of victories.

In the first game, Dot Richardson drove in four runs and Michelle Smith pitched a one-hitter to lead USA Gold to a 9-0 victory over White Rock Renegades Junior Team. Richardson doubled home a run in the bottom of the second inning and belted a three-run homer in the fifth. Crystl Bustos added a two-run homer and finished with three RBI.

Smith, who recorded nine strikeouts, retired the first eight batters before allowing a two-out single in the third inning.

In the second game, Danielle Henderson tossed a no-hitter and USA Gold pounded four home runs to defeat South Hill Selects 8-0. Henderson struck 14 of the 16 batters she faced and struck out the side in all but one inning. Henderson performed a softball rarity in the fourth inning when she struck out four batters in the inning. South Hill's Leanne Pettie reached base on a dropped third strike for the Selects' only baserunner.

Dot Richardson and Crystl Bustos each hit their second home run of the tournament, while Lisa Fernandez and Stacey Nuveman each added a home run. Fernandez and Bustos hit back-to-back first-pitch home runs to spark a five-run third inning.

After taking Sunday off, USA Gold resumed action Monday against the Japanese National Team. USA Gold had to overcome three errors and a three-run deficit to defeat Japan 6-3.

Japan used two USA Gold errors to score three runs in the top of the third and take a 3-0 lead. USA Gold answered with two runs in the bottom of the third on an RBI-double by Sheila Douty and a sacrifice fly by Christie Ambrosi to cut the lead to 3-2.

USA Gold tied the game in the bottom of the fifth and took the lead for good in the bottom of the sixth as Crystl Bustos slammed a three-run homer for her third home run in as many games.

Lori Harrigan pitched three scoreless innings in relief and Danielle Henderson pitched the final inning-and-a-third for her second victory of the tournament. Henderson entered the game in the sixth inning with two outs and the bases loaded, and recorded a strikeout to end Japan's threat.

USA Blue opened Canada Cup play with a single game Saturday, defeating White Rock Renegades Senior Team 7-0. Keri McCallum, Barbara Jordan and Teri Klement - batting first, second and third in the lineup - collected three hits apiece, as USA Blue finished with 13 hits. McCallum's solo home run sparked a three-run fourth inning to break open a close game.

Christa Williams pitched four perfect innings, striking out 10 of the 12 batters she faced. Sarah Dawson, recently added to USA Blue's roster, pitched the fifth and final inning.

Sunday, Amanda Freed and Courtney Blades combined for a five-hitter and 15 strikeouts as USA Blue defeated Team Canada #2 3-0. Kelly Kretschman broke a scoreless tie in the second inning with a two-out RBI-single and scored a run in a two-run fourth inning for USA Blue. Kretschman also helped preserve the shutout in the fourth inning, throwing a runner out at the plate from left field.

Freed recorded eight strikeouts in four innings pitched, while Blades added seven strikeouts in three innings.

Monday, Kelly Kretschman provided more heroics, belting a dramatic two-out, two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth to break a scoreless tie as USA Blue defeated the Chinese National Team 2-0. Christa Williams tossed a five-hitter and recorded 16 strikeouts.

USA Blue has held its first three opponents scoreless through 19 innings.

Both USA teams resume action Tuesday. USA Gold plays a pair of games, taking on Decatur Twister and Team China #2. USA Blue faces Illinois Hits.

Fifteen teams are competing in this year's Canada Cup. The teams are divided into two divisions and pool play continues through Thursday. The top four teams from each division advance to double-elimination playoff rounds beginning Friday. The championship game is scheduled for Sunday afternoon.

For boxscores and a complete schedule of remaining games, visit the ASA Canada Cup Home Page athttp://www.softball.org/99CanadaCup/99CanadaCuphomepage.html.