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USA Defeats Canada to Advance to Semi-Finals of World Championships

 CARACAS, Venezuela – With a 16-1, five-inning, victory over Canada, USA Softball moves on to face un-defeated Japan in one of the most highly anticipated games of the ISF Women’s Softball World Championship in Caracas, Venezuela. The team combined for 16 hits to advance to play Japan, who they defeated in the title game of the 2006 World Championships. 

“I am really proud of the way this team came out and played. Our goal is to put runs on the board in the first inning and when you are visitor that’s very important. We did a great job at setting the tone early,” said Head Coach Jay Miller (Starkville, Miss.). “Monica was great in the circle and all our batters, 1-9, hit the ball well and kept the pressure on. It’s good to see us playing that way so close to the medal game.” 

Alissa Haber (Newark, Calif.) broke the World Championship record with most RBI in a World Tournament in her first at bat against Canada. The previous record was 16 set by teammate Jessica Mendoza (Camarillo, Calif.) in 2006. Haber hit a double down the left field line for three RBI in a bases loaded situation. To load up the bases, Natasha Watley (Irvine, Calif.) singled, Caitlin Lowe (Tustin, Calif.) reached on a dropped strike three and Mendoza walked. Kaitlin Cochran (Yorba Linda, Calif.) doubled to left field to score Haber and cause starting pitcher Jenna Caira to be pulled from the game. Ashley Lanz would only last one at bat as a hard hit ball by Ashley Charters (Beaverton, Ore.) hit her in the hand, causing her to leave the game. Tina Andreana entered, allowed two walks but no more runs were scored. 

“I take pride in my pre-game batting practice. I get the opportunity to hit every type of pitch and that helps me get ready to face all types of pitchers. My mindset is to no matter what make contact,” said Haber when asked on the success of her hitting. “I try to scout the pitchers before and get their strengths and weaknesses then put a plan together that meshes their strengths and weaknesses and my own. Then of course I always try to relax and have fun!” 

After a 30 minute top of the first, Monica Abbott (Salinas, Calif.) sped up the bottom half throwing 5 pitches, 4 strikes for three outs. 

Andreana kept runs off the board in the second inning but allowed four more runs to be scored in the third inning. Four U.S. batters would reach on walks while Watley and Mendoza turned in hits at the plate. Watley doubled to right field and Mendoza singled to right field, for two RBI a piece, to give the U.S. an 8-0 lead. 
Canada avoided the shut out in the bottom of the third when designated player Heather Ebert broke up the no-hitter with a single to center field. She advanced to second on a sac fly and would score off and RBI single by Melanie Matthews. Watley came through again in the fourth with a single to shortstop to take back the eight run lead at 9-1. 

In the top of the fifth, the damage was really done as the U.S. scored seven runs off seven hits. Highlighting the inning was a three-run homerun by Jennie Finch (La Mirada, Calif.), her third of the World Championships. This ties her for third in the record books. A two-RBI single by Mendoza and RBI singles by Cochran and Charters tallied the other runs giving the United States a 16-1 victory in five innings. 

Abbott finished the game with five strikeouts and one earned run. 

“I feel really good about today. I struggled a little early getting in a tempo and had some communication issues with my catcher but we got it figured out. Thankfully the offense picked me up and the defense was awesome today,” said Abbott on her second win of the 2010 Worlds. “Next time I get in I will be even more ready to play.” 

USA vs. Japan has been one of the most talked about games at the 2010 World Championships and fans will get the chance to see the two compete tomorrow at 4:30 p.m./CT. The U.S. holds the World Championship series record at 12-2 with the last loss during the 2006 semi-final game. The game will be aired via webcast at http://www.vtv.gov.ve/envivo.html. For complete coverage of the ISF World Championship, continue to check out www.usasoftball.com. 

- Courtesy of USA Softball