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USA Gold Sweeps Team IGA; Wins Challenge Series 8-5-1

USA Gold Sweeps Team IGA; Wins Challenge Series 8-5-1

USA Gold swept a doubleheader from Team IGA as the Coca-Cola USA Softball American Challenge Series concluded Monday at Oklahoma City, Okla. USA Gold won the first game 2-0, then posted a 4-3 victory in the nightcap.

In the first game, Lisa Fernandez tossed a one-hitter and recorded eight strikeouts to lead USA Gold. Fernandez pitched four perfect innings before issuing a leadoff walk to Nina Lindenberg in the top of the fifth. Fernandez carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning until Amanda Freed beat out an infield single for Team IGA's only hit.

The game was scoreless until the fifth inning when Laura Berg's two-out single put USA Gold on the scoreboard. USA Gold added a second run in the inning on a throwing error. Jennifer Brundage had two of USA Gold's four hits.

Team IGA pitcher Christa Williams finished with a four-hitter and struck out eight batters.

The win clinched the series for USA Gold, which took a 7-5-1 lead with one game remaining.

In the second game, USA Gold used three home runs to take a four-run lead, then withstood a Team IGA rally to hold on for the victory.

In the top of the first inning, Julie Smith drew a leadoff walk and, one out later, Lisa Fernandez homered to give USA Gold a 2-0 lead. Christie Ambrosi and Jennifer Brundage opened the fourth inning with back-to-back home runs to extend USA Gold's lead to 4-0.

Team IGA answered in the bottom of the fourth by scoring three runs without the benefit of a hit. After a pair of walks and a fielding error loaded the bases with nobody out, RBI-ground outs by Lisa Carey and Amanda Freed, and a wild pitch pulled Team IGA within 4-3.

USA Gold starter Michele Smith took a no-hitter into the sixth before allowing one-out singles by Kim Maher and Freed. Lori Harrigan entered the game in relief and retired all five batters she faced to pick up the save. Smith struck out eight batters, while Harrigan recorded three strikeouts.

USA Gold will represent the U.S. at the Pan Am Games, July 23-August 7 at Winnipeg, Manitoba. The 30 players selected to USA Gold and Team IGA are automatically invited to participate in the USA Softball Olympic Trials, Sept. 2-4 in Midland, Mich.

1999 Coca-Cola USA Softball American Challenge Series July 19, 1999 (at Oklahoma City, Okla.) USA Gold 2 Team IGA 0 USA Gold 4 Team IGA 3

July 17, 1999 (at Garland, Tex.) Team IGA 4 USA Gold 3 USA Gold 8 Team IGA 0 (5 innings)

July 16, 1999 (at Garland, Tex.) Team IGA 1 USA Gold 0 (11 innings) USA Gold 10 Team IGA 1 (5 innings)

June 26, 1999 (at Cincinnati, Ohio) Team IGA 5 USA Gold 0 USA Gold 0 Team IGA 0 (Game called after five innings due to inclement weather.)

June 25, 1999 (at Cincinnati, Ohio) USA Gold 1 Team IGA 0 Team IGA 4 USA Gold 0

June 23, 1999 (at Bloomington, Ind.) USA Gold 6 Team IGA 0 Team IGA 6 USA Gold 0

June 22, 1999 (at Bloomington, Ind.) USA Gold 2 Team IGA 0 USA Gold 2 Team IGA 1