OKLAHOMA CITY - In Jennie Finch’s final game as a member of the USA Softball Women’s National Team, the Americans sent the icon out in fitting fashion as Team USA captured its fourth consecutive World Cup title at the 2010 KFC World Cup of Softball presented by Six Flags in Oklahoma City, Okla. Finch (La Mirada, Calif.), best known for her pitching, appeared at first base in the 5-1 victory over Japan, the 2010 ISF Women’s World Championship silver medalists.
Following the game, Finch left her cleats at home plate, with her husband Casey Daigle and son Ace by her side. Finch has been a member of the Women’s National Team for 10 years, helping the Red, White and Blue to an Olympic Gold Medal in 2004 and Silver Medal in 2008.
“I have had a career that has far surpassed anything that I could have ever imagined. Just thinking about everything that has happened, all I can say is ‘Wow.’ I’m incredibly blessed to have had all of these opportunities,” said Finch, a three-time ISF Women’s World Champion. “I am sad that this was the last time I’ll wear this uniform, something that means so much to me, but I’m so happy for the chance to wear it. I’m so happy that I could do what I love with these amazing women, who are not only my teammates but my best friends, and am so thankful for how they have touched my life. I’m not sure what comes next for me. I just know that softball will always be a part of my life.”
Natasha Watley (Irvine, Calif.), who had all of the team wear Finch’s signature glitter headband with the slogan “Dream and Believe” on the band, was perfect at the plate, going 3-for-3, scoring two runs and driving in one other to help Team USA to a fifth consecutive victory over Japan this season.
Team USA starter Monica Abbott (Salinas, Calif.) threw a complete game, allowing one run on four hits. Abbott struck out 10, moving her World Cup record total to 35.
“I don’t think Jennie will ever not be the face of softball,” Abbott said. “She carries it so well and she’s done more. I think that even though she’s retiring her on field skills, the limits are boundless for her. We should all expect the best from her. I think her impact on the game is going to jump up a level from here. Obviously, USA Softball wise, we’re going to need some people step up and hopefully some good young guns. Eileen Canney did a great job this week. It’s always fun to see that. Hopefully Cat (Osterman) will get healthy. I think it’s all up for grabs. Everyone is going to go out there and do the best that they can.”
Team USA opened the scoring in the bottom of the first. Watley reached on a leadoff single and scored on Jessica Mendoza’s (Camarillo, Calif.) base hit up the middle. The Americans tacked on two more in the second when Watley and Lauren Lappin (Anaheim, Calif.) came around on a triple down the right-field line by Caitlin Lowe (Tustin, Calif.). Watley reached on her 12th single of the tournament, a new World Cup record.
Japan scored its first run in the third when Misato Kawano scored on a single up the middle by Eri Yamada. Team USA added another run in the bottom of the third. Kaitlin Cochran (Yorba Linda, Calif.) walked and advanced to second on a wild pitch. She later scored after Andrea Duran (Salinas, Calif.) reached on an error.
Team USA added an insurance run in the sixth when Ashley Charters (Beaverton, Ore.) reached on a single and advanced on a sacrifice bunt from Lappin. Charters then took advantage of a wild pitch to move to third and scored on a sacrifice fly from Watley.
After giving up a two-out double to Misato Kawano in the fifth, Abbott retired the final seven batters she faced en route to her third win of the tournament. Naoko Matsumoto went 2-for-3 for Japan against Abbott.
Starter Makiko Fujiwara lasted just 1.2 innings, allowing three earned runs on five hits. Tomo Yasufuku allowed a hit and an unearned run in her 2.1 innings. In two innings, Naho Emoto gave up another two runs to Team USA.
Cochran ended the game with a single and two walks, while Charters went 2-for-3.
In the noon game against the USA Softball Women’s Futures National Team, a 3-0 loss for Futures, Finch tossed a three hit shutout. She struck out 12 and walked one. It was her final international start in the circle, and she was presented with that pitching rubber following the Championship Game.
“It felt awesome,” Finch said. “They are the future of USA Softball. They are the best of the best so I knew I had our work cut out for us. As a competitor, that’s what you focus on even with that last pitch. Of course, I knew it could be my last pitch.”
Vicky Galindo (Union City, Calif.) started the Red, White and Blue offense in the second inning with a double to right center that brought in Alissa Haber (Newark, Calif.). After Cochran flied out to right field and Finch lined out to center field, Haber singled up the middle. She then stole second.
With the 1-0 lead in the third, Watley singled to second base and Chelsea Bramlett (Cordova, Tenn.) reached on a fielder’s choice, which put Watley out at second. Bramlett stole second then scored when Mendoza hit a home run to center, making it a 3-0 game.
Angela “Tincher has had my number,” Mendoza said. “I’ve had some struggles against her in the past so as soon as I found out she was pitching I was like ‘All right Jess, she’s not going to beat you with that rise ball. Not again.’”
Tincher (Eagle Rock, Va.) took the loss for the Futures. In her five innings of work, she gave up six hits and walked one. She struck out two. In her inning of relief, Stacey Nelson (Los Alamitos, Calif.) faced three batters, none reaching base.
With the loss to the National Team, Futures was knocked into the Third Place Game to face No. 4 Canada. The Futures took an early 1-0 lead against Canada when Canada’s starting pitcher Danielle Lawrie, the two-time USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year, walked Katelyn Boyd (Phoenix, Ariz.) in after allowing two other walks and a single.
Canada tied up in the bottom of the third when Melanie Matthews scored on a wild pitch. Matthews was hit with a pitch by Futures starting pitcher Jordan Taylor (Valencia, Calif.) to reach base. The 1-1 tie stayed on the board until the sixth inning when the score changed to a 3-3 tie.
Valerie Arioto (Pleasanton, Calif.) led off the sixth with a solo shot to left field to break the tie and another run was put up off a single by Jenae Leles (Sacramento, Calif.) giving the Futures a 3-1 lead.
Canada tied it up in the bottom of the sixth when Caitlin Lever scored off an RBI groundout by Jen Salling. Jen Yee who singled earlier in the inning scored the tying run, scoring on a passed ball.
The evenly played game ended in the top of the seventh when the Futures put six runs up on Canada to take a commanding 9-3 lead that Canada was unable to overcome in the bottom of the seventh. A two RBI single by Leles and a single RBI by Raven Chavanne (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) scored the first three runs and in a bases loaded situation, the fourth run was scored when Jenna Caira walked in a run. With two outs, Molly Johnson (Tucson, Ariz.) singled to left field to put two more runs up in favor of the Red, White and Blue.
Taylor earned the win with 7.0 innings of play, retiring seven batters with a strikeout.
- Courtesy USA Softball