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Cathi Aradi

USA Downs Puerto Rico to Finish Pool Play at Junior World Championships Undefeated

CAPE TOWN, South Africa - Four 2011 USA Softball Junior Women’s National Team athletes combined for five home runs Wednesday at the 2011 International Softball Federation (ISF) Junior Women’s World Championships in Cape Town, South Africa, helping the United States run-rule Puerto Rico 12-3 in five innings. With the win, Team USA secured the No. 1 seed in Pool A with a 7-0 record. 

The Americans start playoff action Thursday at 5:30 p.m. South African Standard Time/9:30 a.m. CT against Australia, the No. 2 seed in Pool B. The winner will play again at 5:30 p.m. Friday while the loser will play at noon SAST/4 a.m. CT. 

Center fielder Hallie Wilson (North Tustin, Calif.) and left fielder Kourtney Salvarola (Arnold, Md.) were issued consecutive walks to start the bottom of the first. With two outs after second baseman Kylee Lahners (Laguna Hills,  Calif.) struckout and first baseman Lauren Chamberlain (Trabuco Canyon, Calif.) reached on a fielder’s choice that put Wilson out at third, starting pitcher Ally Carda (Elk Grove, Calif.) singled up the middle to score Salvarola. Lauren Haeger  (Phoenix, Ariz.), the designated player, followed suit with an RBI single that scored Chamberlain for a 2-0 lead. 

“I was pleased that the team was able to come out and score runs early,” said Karen Johns (Whippany, N.J.), who is in her second year as head coach. “When you take the lead with your fifth batter, it takes a little bit of the pressure off.” 

Puerto Rico responded with a Monica Santos double to right field off Carda. With a Nicole Osterman sacrfice bunt, Santos moved to third. Malerie Figueroa grounded out but Yahelis Munoz followed with an RBI single to left field. It marked the first earned run of the tournament for the U.S. pitching staff. 

Cheyenne Cordes (Fairfield, Calif.) ledoff the second with a home run to center field. Another run scored when Salvarola, who doubled, crossed the plate on a Lahners single. Chamberlain then made it a 6-1 contest with a center field homer, her second of the tournament. A Carda single led to Jocelyn De Leon coming in to pitch for Puerto Rico. 

Haeger singled then catcher Amber Freeman (Lakewood, Calif.) hit a flyball, bringing Cordes back to the plate for the second time. She hit a three-run home run to give the U.S. a 9-1 advantage heading into the third. 

“I just went up there nice and relaxed, looking for a pitch. Both of my home runs were off first pitch strikes,” said Cordes, who is  9-for-15 in the tournament. “I was just nice and relaxed, not thinking about anything important. I just went up there and swung.” 

With Haeger in the circle, another Puerto Rico run scored on a wild pitch. 

The American’s lone run of the third came from a Chelsea Goodacre (Temecula, Calif.) leadoff home run. Batting for Lahners, Goodacre hit one over the center field fence, marking the first long ball of her USA Softball career. 

“It was releiving to hit that home run,” Goodacre said. “After having a few bat at-bats earlier this week, it was nice being able to go back to what I know. It is a great feeling to have any hit for for your country but a home run is even more special.” 

Puerto Rico scored another run on a wild pitch in the fourth. 

After Cordes flied out to center field to start the bottom of the fourth, just narrowly missing a third home run, Cheyenne Coyle (West Hills, Calif.) knocked one over the fence. It marked her first home run since joining the USA Softball Junior Women’s National Team in July as a replacement for injured shortstop Shelby Pendley (Albuquerque, N.M.). 

Erin Gabriel (Poland, Ohio) pitched the fifth for the U.S., striking out one batter. Carada, who threw a no-hitter against China earlier in the tournament, improved her record to 2-0 in the circle with the win. 

Live stats for all of the U.S. games in Cape Town are available at USASoftball.com. Selected playoff games will be streamed live through the tournament website (http://jwwc2011.co.za/). 

-Courtesy of ASA/USA Softball