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Cathi Aradi

Another Split for USA Gold and Team IGA

USA Gold and Team IGA Split Doubleheader In Challenge Series

Dani Tyler drove in the game's only run with a triple in the top of the 11th inning and Becky Witt made a game-saving catch as Team IGA defeated USA Gold 1-0 in the first game of a double header Friday at Garland, Tex. as the two teams resumed play in the Coca-Cola USA Softball American Challenge Series. The win evened the series at 4-4-1, but USA Gold regained the lead in the series as Julie Smith led a 13-hit attack in a 10-1 victory over Team IGA.

Game one was a pitcher's duel between USA Gold's Lisa Fernandez and Team IGA's Courtney Blades as both pitchers went the distance. Blades pitched a two-hitter and survived seven walks for the victory, while Fernandez allowed three hits and recorded 16 strikeouts.

The game was scoreless until the 11th when Lisa Carey was placed on second due to the international tie-breaker rule. After Michelle Venturella's sacrifice moved her to third, Tyler hit a liner down the left field line for a run-scoring triple, the only extra-base hit of the game.

USA Gold threatened in the bottom of the 11th with runners on first and second with two outs. Stacey Nuveman hit a liner that appeared destined to be the game-winning hit, but Witt made a diving catch for the final out of the game.

In the second game, Christie Ambrosi's RBI-triple sparked a three-run first inning to give USA Gold an early lead. After adding a run in the second, USA Gold put the game away in the fourth inning, using three errors to score six runs. Smith highlighted the inning with a three-run single as Shelly Stokes scored all the way from first base. Amanda Scott had a two-run single in the inning. Smith, Scott, Fernandez and Leah O'Brien-Amico had two hits apiece for USA Gold.

Michelle Smith pitched a three-hitter and recorded 11 strikeouts for USA Gold. Kirsten Voak, who pitched for the USA Junior National Team last month, went the distance in her first appearance for Team IGA. Six of the 10 runs allowed were unearned.

The two teams play again tonight in Garland, then conclude the series Monday at Oklahoma City, Okla.

For boxscores and play-by-play listings, visit the ASA website at http://www.softball.org.