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Team USA Tops Mexico and Chinese Taipei to Advance to the General Tire World Cup of Softball IX Title Tilt
IRVINE, Calif. – Team USA captured two wins on Saturday at the General Tire World Cup of Softball IX to remain undefeated and claim a spot in the Championship Game.
In its first game of the day, Team USA overcame a seventh-inning comeback from Mexico to capture a 3-2 win before earning a 14-0 (four-inning) win over Chinese Taipei.
"We came out better in the second game, but we've still got some work to do," said USA Head Coach Ken Eriksen. "We're still a really young team, but these girls realize it's about the 17 athletes and the name across the front of their chest, not the back. They understand the privilege they have to wear that uniform and don't take one second for granted."
Championship SUNDAY (July 13) Game Schedule:
Game One - USA (Seed #1) vs Canada (Seed #2) - 10 a.m. PDT - Live on ESPN
Game Two - Venezuela (Seed #7) vs Philippines (Seed #6) - 12:30 p.m. PDT
Game Three - Mexico (Seed #5) vs. Winner Game Two - 2 p.m. PDT
Game Four - Japan (Seed #4) vs. Chinese Taipei (Seed #3) - 4 p.m. PDT
Game 21: USA 14, Chinese Taipei 0 (4)
USA got things started early against Chinese Taipei, scoring four runs in the top of the first inning to propel them to a 14-0 (four- inning) run-rule victory.
"We were trying not to think about things too much heading into this game," said Michelle Moultrie. "We just tried to play as hard as we could, whether base running, at-bat or on defense. We're starting to mesh really well together and getting to know each other's personalities even more and each game we keep getting better."
USA got two batters on base with back-to-back hit-by-pitches to Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) and Raven Chavanne (Thousand Oaks, Calif.). A sac-bunt from Lauren Gibson (Pasadena, Md.) moved the runners over and a walk to Valerie Arioto (Pleasanton, Calif.) loaded the bases. Amanda Chidester (Allen Park, Mich.) connected for a double to center field to plate two runners, and an errant throw from the third baseman allowed Arioto and Chidester to score.
Chinese Taipei was retired in order in the bottom of the first with two strikeouts from Jessica Moore (Sutter, Calif.) and a groundout to Sam Fischer (Simi Valley, Calif.). Moultrie led off the top of the second inning with a double to center field and came around to score on a double from Gibson. With one runner on, Arioto connected for her fifth home run of the General Tire World Cup of Softball IX to give the U.S. a 7-0 lead.
USA continued to attack offensively with a single from Chidester and an RBI double from Taylor Hoagland (Flower Mound, Texas), which plated Hallie Wilson (Tustin, Calif.) who pinch ran for Chidester. Jessica Plaza (Huntington Beach, Calif.) got her second hit of the game with an RBI single to left field to score Hoagland and push the lead to 9-0.
Chinese Taipei would get their first hit of the game in the bottom of the second as Hsiang Yun Wang singled to center with two outs. With one runner on, Moore recorded her fourth strikeout to end the inning. USA added another run in the top of the third inning with a solo home run from Gibson.
Jaclyn Traina (Naples, Fla.) entered the circle for Team USA in the bottom of the third and produced a three-up and three-down outing to bring USA back to the plate. USA loaded the bases in the top of the fourth with two singles from Fischer and Plaza and a double from Hoagland. A single from Chavanne produced another run for USA and an error on the first baseman allowed Kelsey Stewart (Wichita, Kan.), who served as a temporary runner for Plaza, and Martinez to score. With Chavanne on third, an error by the shortstop put Kellie Fox (San Diego, Calif.) on base safely, scoring Chavanne and giving USA a 14-0 lead.
Needing just three outs to secure the win, Arioto entered the circle for USA and issued back-to-back strikeouts. With two outs, Szu Shih Li hit a single to center field, but a ground ball to Fischer produced the final out of the game.
Up next for the U.S. is the Championship Game of the General Tire World Cup of Softball IX against Canada at 10 a.m. PDT with the game airing live on ESPN. Heading into the finals, Arioto is leading the U.S. offensively with a 2.375 slugging percentage and a .500 batting average (6-for-12) with 12 RBI and five home runs. From the circle, Jolene Henderson (Elk Grove, Calif.) is leading the pitching staff with a .512 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 13.2 innings pitched.
Game 19: USA 3, Mexico 2
Team USA battled through adversity to take a 3-2 win over Mexico in their first game of the day at the General Tire World Cup of Softball IX. Heading into the seventh inning with a 2-0 lead, back-to-back home runs tied the game up with the U.S. winning with a sac-fly from Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.).
"We honestly played so terrible this game," said USA Head Coach Ken Eriksen. "I really have no words on the effort from our veterans playing with us. You hit the ball, you run hard and stay disciplined. The difference between last night and this morning was a complete 180."
Both sides were retired in order to start off the game until Mexico put the first base runner of the game on with a leadoff single from Melissa Taukeiaho. A failed bunt attempt led to a popup, Jolene Henderson (Elk Grove, Calif.) struck out the next batter and a line drive to Lauren Gibson (Pasadena, Md.) at second base kept Taukeiaho put to bring the U.S. back to the plate.
The Red, White and Blue got their first hit of the game in the bottom of the second as Amanda Chidester (Allen Park, Mich.) hit a two-out single. Kelli Fox (San Diego, Calif.) sent a line drive to the centerfield gap to double and move the runner to third but Mexico's defense picked up a hard ground ball from Destinee Martinez (Corona, Calif.) to end the inning.
Mexico was retired in order with three groundouts to start of the third inning. With two outs, Raven Chavanne (Thousand Oak, Calif.) utilized her speed to get an in-the-park home run off a fly ball to left field to put USA up 1-0.
Henderson retired two straight batters with a strikeout to start off the fourth inning and a ground out to Hallie Wilson (Tustin, Calif.) brought USA back to the plate. Gibson led off with a walk and advanced to second on a fielder's choice on a sac-bunt from Valerie Arioto (Pleasanton, Calif.), who also reached base safely. Kelsey Stewart (Wichita, Kan.) entered to pinch run for Gibson at second base and advanced to third on another sac-bunt from Chidester, but a strikeout and pop fly to center kept the U.S. from plating another run.
Mexico led off the top of the fifth inning with a single to left field, but Henderson continued to shine with back-to-back strikeouts and a groundout to Chavanne at third base. USA tacked on another run in the bottom half of the inning as Haylie McCleney (Morris, Ala.) led off with a double to left field and advanced to third on a sac-bunt from Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) . A single from Chavanne plated McCleney to give USA a 2-0 lead.
Sara Nevins (Pineallas Park, Fla.) entered the circle for Team USA in the top of the sixth inning, issuing a leadoff single to Jessica Traxler. A ground ball to Chavanne at third got the runner out at second and Nevins issued back-to-back strikeouts. Arioto led off the U.S. at-bat with a single to center and Taylor Hoagland entered as a pinch runner. Chidester then hit a shot to third base, who caught the line drive and picked off Hoagland at first for a double play. A fly out from Fox ended the inning to bring Mexico back trailing USA 2-0.
Jaclyn Traina (Naples, Fla.) entered the game in the top of the seventh and issued a solo, first-pitch home run to Taukeiaho. Adriana Perez followed with another solo shot to tie the ball game. Traina issued a strikeout to the next batter faced, but a walk to the next batter prompted another pitching change for USA as Henderson re-entered the game. With one runner on base and one out, Mexico bunted Erika Garcia to second and a groundout to Stewart at second base ended the threat.
With the game on the line in the bottom of the seventh, McCleney connected for her second hit of the game with one out, hitting a hard line drive to right field and legged out a triple. With a 2-0 count, Moultrie hit the sac-fly to left field to plate the speedy McCleney and seal the 3-2 win for USA.
For the U.S. pitching staff, Henderson earned the win after going five and two-third innings from the circle. Henderson racked up six strikeouts with three hits allowed. Nevins captured two strikeouts in her one inning pitched, while Traina issued one strikeout, one walk and allowed two runs in her one-third inning pitched.
For Mexico, Pinon took the loss, pitching the whole game for Mexico with seven strikeouts, seven hits, one walk and three runs allowed.