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USA Blanks Japan to Advance to Title Game of World Championships

 CARACAS, Venezuela - Cat Osterman (Houston, Texas) completed her first seven-inning game of the ISF World Championships, a one-hit, 12 strikeout performance, that helped lead USA Softball to a 4-0 defeat of Japan and a spot in the title game of the ISF Women’s Softball World Championship in Caracas, Venezuela. Looking to capture its ninth World title, USA Softball will face either Canada or Japan on Friday at 6:30 p.m. CT. 

“This is definitely one of my better performances. I have had better but on this stage and at this time of the tournament, I think it’s the best performance I could throw,” said Osterman who earned the win at the 2006 World Championships. “I am no stranger to Japan and they are no stranger to me so I had to bring my best to the table. We did a good job at keeping them off balance and I am glad to get this win in the books.” 

Making her third start, Osterman was tested for the first time of the World Championships. Rei Nishiyama reached on a walk and advanced to second when Yamada singled to first base. USA first baseman Jennie Finch (La Mirada, Calif.) dove to first for the out but Yamada was called safe. The runners would reach second and third on a wild pitch but two Osterman strikeouts left them stranded. 
The U.S. took a 3-0 lead in the first inning with the team again capitalizing on a bases loaded opportunity. 

After today’s game, the United States is hitting .583 with bases loaded. Caitlin Lowe (Tustin, Calif.) began to set the table with a single down the middle. Jessica Mendoza (Camarillo, Calif.) drew her fifth walk of the tournament and Alissa Haber (Newark, Calif.) finished up the loading of the bases with a single to right field. Kaitlin Cochran (Yorba Linda, Calif.) reached on a fielder’s choice to first base. First baseman Shizuyo Hamamoto went for the out at home but over threw the catcher, allowing Lowe and Mendoza to score. A sac fly by Andrea Duran (Selma, Calif.) gave the U.S. one more run and an early 3-0 lead. 

Japan’s one hit and the U.S.’s two hits in the first inning would be all the hits fans would see until the fifth when Lauren Lappin (Anaheim, Calif.) led off the inning with a double to left field. A sac bunt by Watley advanced Lappin to third. Lappin would go on to score the fourth run of the game when Mendoza hit a single to left field. Mendoza would be called out on the play at second. A groundout to pitcher accounted for the other out of the inning but the U.S. edged their lead to 4-0 going into the top of the sixth. 

“You always like to come out early and put runs on the board first. I think we had a really good first inning. When you have the best in the world in the circle, with Cat, it doesn’t really get any better than that,” said Head Coach Jay Miller. “The defense made some great plays and Cat shut the door on them early, really setting the tone and giving a boost to the team.” 

Japan brought in a new pitcher in the bottom of the sixth removing starting pitcher Sayuri Yamane who took the loss for Japan. She worked 5.0 innings with three strikeouts. 

After allowing two to reach in the first, Osterman and the USA defense allowed no runners to reach until the seventh inning when Eri Yamada led off with a walk. Two fielder’s choices and a strikeout later, earned a win, working her first full game of the World Championships 

In other tournament news, home team Venezuela was knocked out of the tournament by China in a 6-1 win. Canada avoided elimination in two games in the bottom of the seventh. Against Australia, Caitlin Lever hit a double in the bottom of the seventh. by Australia in the bottom of the seventh. Australia was leading 2-0 from the fourth inning on until the bottom of the seventh when Canada scored three runs for the win. Canada and China played in the nightcap with Canada scoring a run in the seventh off an RBI single by Sheena Lawrick to win the game. Japan and Canada will compete in the bronze medal game tomorrow at 3:30 p.m.CT and the winner of that game will advance to play the United States at 6:30 p.m.CT. 

- Courtesy of USA Softball