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Team USA Wins Battle of Unbeatens Over Canada at the World Cup of Softball IX, 5-3
IRVINE, Calif. – In their first televised appearance of the 2014 season, seven U.S. batters came up with hits that led to a 5-3 win over Canada on Thursday night at the General Tire World Cup of Softball IX the Amateur Softball Association (ASA)/USA Softball.
Lauren Gibson (Pasadena, Md.) led the way for Team USA's offense, going a perfect 3-for-3 with one RBI. Valerie Arioto (Pleasanton, Calif.) also shined for the U.S., connecting for her third home run of the tournament with a two-run homer in the third inning.
"We have two diverse game plans going at the same time," said USA Head Coach Ken Eriksen. "It's nice when you can put them together when you've got speed on the base paths and the big bombers are up at the same time, but if the home run hitters are not hitting home runs look at the diversity we have out on the base paths. We created a lot of runs in the game tonight. We had the right personnel at the right positions."
Game Twelve: USA 5, Canada 3
It was a shaky night defensively for the U.S., but despite a few defensive miscues, Team USA was able to capture a 5-3 win over Canada. The U.S. jumped to a 3-0 lead during the third inning and sealed their win with an additional run in the fourth and fifth innings.
"I think as a whole the team did really well," said Gibson. "Our defense is coming together and so is our hitting and pitching."
The U.S. put a base runner on in the top of the first as Gibson hit her first single of the game to left field with two outs, but a ground out to Canada's second baseman Jennifer Yee ended the at-bat for the U.S. Hallie Wilson (Tustin, Calif.) would get things going again in the top of the second inning with a one-out single to center. Jessica Plaza (Huntington Beach, Calif.) then hit into a fielder's choice where both runners reached safely after a bobble by the third baseman. A pop-up left the runners at bay before Wilson was caught stealing to end the inning.
Canada would get their first base runner of the game in the bottom of the second inning as Megan Gurski reached on an infield single. The runner would fail to advance as Sara Nevins (Pineallas Park, Fla.) retired the next two batters with strikeouts.
The offense for Team USA picked up in the top of the third as Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) singled to center field and scored on a triple from Gibson. Arioto then connected for her third long ball of the tournament with a two-run homer over center field to put the U.S. up 3-0.
USA tacked on another run in the top of the fourth as Haylie McCleney (Morris, Ala.) hit a single to center field and scored on a single from Raven Chavanne (Thousand Oaks, Calif.).
Sara Nevins (Pineallas Park, Calif.) was a forced to be reckoned with from the circle, stifling the Canadian batters through her four innings of work. Nevins retired six Canadian batters via strikeout and allowed just two hits.
Jolene Henderson (Elk Grove, Calif.) entered the circle for the U.S. in the bottom of the fourth. A hit batter put one runner on base for Canada, but Henderson bounced back with a strikeout for the first out. Larissa Franklin then connected for an infield single before a walk loaded the bases for Canada. Victoria Hayward dealt the first blow to the U.S. with an RBI single to plate one run. Yee then reached base on a fielder's choice as Gibson got the runner out at second, but an errant throw plated another Canadian runner to shorten the U.S. lead to 4-3.
Both sides were kept quiet through the next inning until Gibson walked in the top of the seventh inning. Kelsey Stewart (Wichita, Kan.) entered to pinch run for Gibson and advanced to third base after Arioto grounded out to third base. With the runner on third, Kellie Fox (San Diego, Calif.) laid down a squeeze bunt, scoring Stewart and putting the U.S. up 5-3.
Jessica Moore (Sutter, Calif.) pitched the final inning of the game for the Red, White and Blue. Moore retired the first batter with a strikeout and followed up with a ground ball to first baseman Wilson for the second out of the inning. A single from Yee put a runner on base for Canada, but another ground ball to Wilson ended the game.
Sara Plourde took the loss for Canada, lasting just two and two-third innings. Plourde collected two strikeouts with six hits and three runs allowed. Karissa Hovinga entered in relief for Plourde in the middle of the third inning and collected one strikeout with one walk, one run and four hits through three and one-third innings. Jenna Caira closed out the game for Canada, getting two strikeouts with one run allowed.
For the U.S. pitching staff, Nevins picked up her first win of the General Tire World Cup of Softball. Henderson picked up one strikeout with two hits, one walk and three runs in two complete innings. Moore tabbed one strikeout and one hit in her one inning pitched.
Up next for the U.S. is a rematch with Japan, who defeated the U.S. in last year's General Tire World Cup of Softball finals. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. PDT with the game airing live on ESPN.
**courtesy of ASA/USA Softball