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USA Tested, But Tops Mexico at Junior Worlds Qualifying

BOGOTA, Colombia - Despite a performance that included seven errors, the 2010-11 USA Softball Women’s Junior National Team beat Mexico 15-3 in six innings to improve to 4-0 at the III Pan American Championship (18-Under) in Bogota, Colombia. Team USA closes out pool play Thursday with a doubleheader against Canada and Brazil. 

“We had some shaky defensive moments but I am really proud of our offensive performance today,said Head Coach Karen Johns (Starkville, Miss.). On the day that we needed them the most, they stepped up to the plate and bailed us out. Our pitching was on target again but our offense is what got the job done for us against Mexico.

The bunt was the problem for the Americans, as Devanie Gutierrez scored Mexico's only earned run the top of the second when she advanced home on a sacrifice bunt from Maria Mercado Contreras. Gutierrez reached on a bunt then advanced when third baseman Chelsea Goodacre (Temecula, Calif.) misplayed a Grecia Garcia Silva bunt. A bunt from Maria Mata Fuentes advanced Gutierrez to third. Ivette Lopez Gonzales, bunting, then reached on another error that scored Garcia. After Goodacre misplayed a bunt from Saidy Lopez that allowed her to reach, Maria Gandanilla grounded out to second base to end the inning. 

Stefania Aradillas Alanis started out the third with a single to right center. She advanced to second when the next batter, Kim-Li Gil Sanchez, reached on an error by third baseman Lauren Chamberlain (Trabuco Canyon, Calif.), who replaced Goodacre. Alanis advanced to third on a Gutierrez sacrifice bunt. She scored on an error by catcher Chelsea Zgrabik (Nokomis, Fla.), who left the plate unattended when it was thought the batter, Fuentes, had struck out on what turned out to be the second strike in a 1-2 count. Fuentes later lined out with a highlight reel catch that sent shortstop Shelby Pendley (Albuquerque, N.M.) leaping into the air. 

Shelby's catch was amazing,” Johns said. “It was incredible. Not only did she get us out of that inning, I think she really shifted the momentum back to our team. It was a real turning point.

The USA defense was able to shut down Mexico in the fourth and fifth, then the Red, White and Blue offense took over, scoring 10 runs in the sixth. Chamberlain doubled to left field, scoring Kylee Lahners (Laguna Hills, Calif.) and moving Lauren Haeger (Phoenix, Ariz.) to third base. With the game at 6-3, Hallie Wilson (North Tustin, Calif.) doubled, scoring Haeger, who singled, and moving Chamberlain to third. Cheyenne Cordes (Fairfield, Calif.) then walked. An illegal pitch from Lopez, who moved from third to pitcher, scored Chamberlain and advanced Wilson and Cordes. Wilson and Cordes later scored on two more illegal pitches. 

After Madison Shipman (Valencia, Calif.) singled to shortstop, Mercades Arzapalo Aguilar took the circle for Mexico. She allowed Lahners to double, scoring Amber Freeman (Lakewood, Calif.), who reached on a single and advanced on a wild pitch. Haeger doubles to score Lahners. A triple from Chamberlain scored Haeger. On a passed ball, Chamberlain scored. Wilson grounded out to end the 10-run sixth. 

Team USA had 17 hits, including five doubles and two triples. 

Cheyanne Tarango (Anaheim Hills, Calif.) worked the first three innings for Team USA, striking out three while allowing all three of Mexico's hits. Ally Carda (Elk Grove, Calif.) worked the next three innings, striking out six.

- Courtesy USA Softball