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Team USA Opens Italian Softball Week with Wins over Australia and Italy
AZZANO DECIMO, Italy - The USA Softball Women’s National Team started their European run strong on Thursday going 2-0 with wins over Australia and Italy on the opening day of Italian Softball Week.
Jolene Henderson (Elk Grove, Calif.) earned the win in game one as Team USA defeated Australia 7-3. In the second game of the USA doubleheader, Jackie Traina (Naples, Fla.) started in the circle and threw five innings, allowing just one run, as Team USA cruised to a 7-1 victory.
“We played well tonight for most of both contests,” said USA Head Coach Ken Eriksen. “There were spurts where we let up a bit but I think some of that has to do with fatigue from traveling just a day ago. With that said, we were able to take care of business and get the two wins that we wanted. Now we’re in good shape going forward.”
USA 7, Australia 3
Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) was 3-3 at the plate in game one sparking Team USA’s offense throughout their 7-3 win over Australia. She singled in the second inning, doubled in the fourth and tripled in the sixth. The lefty speedster finished with two runs and one RBI in the contest.
On the defensive side, Henderson looked sharp on the rubber through four innings as Australia managed just one run on two hits as Jolene struck out four and walked just two. Jessica Moore (Sutter, Calif.) earned the save entering the circle in the fifth and allowing just two runs on four hits.
Team USA jumped to an early 2-0 lead in the first when Raven Chavanne (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) singled and advanced to second on an error in the next at-bat. A walk to the following batter loaded the bases for Samantha Fischer (Simi Valley, Calif.) who delivered with a hard ground ball to right field scoring two.
Australia got a run back in the top of the fourth on a Tsitsikronis homer but Team USA stole it back in the bottom half of the inning when Kelsey Stewart (Wichita, Kan.) doubled to left field scoring Moultrie from second.
Trailing 3-1 Australia tied the game in the top of the fifth when Bowering singled to left field scoring Godfrey and Porter but Lauren Gibson (Pasadena, Md.) quickly broke the tie in the bottom half with a solo homer to center field.
Moore held Australia scoreless in the sixth and Team USA added three runs to their lead to jump ahead 7-3. Another scoreless inning in the top of the seventh sealed it as the USA Women moved to 1-0 in the Italian Softball Week event.
USA 7, Italy 1
A big fourth inning opened up a previously low scoring game for Team USA in their second matchup of the evening. Taking on the host team Italy, Traina lead the way in the circle allowing just one run in five innings in the circle. From the plate, Kellie Fox (San Diego, Calif.) was 2-4 with a single and a huge grand slam in the top of the fourth to bust open the scoring for the USA National Team.
Holding a 5-1 lead, Team USA added runs in the fifth and sixth innings. Taylor Hoagland (Flower Mound, Texas) doubled to left field in the fifth to score Valerie Arioto (Pleasanton, Calif.) and a Moultrie triple in the sixth scored Hallie Wilson (Santa Ana, Calif.).
Sara Nevins (Pinellas Park, Fla.) entered to pitch to start the bottom of the sixth and allowed just one hit in the final two innings as Team USA took the 7-1 win to move to 2-0 in the tournament.
The USA Women will return to action on Friday night as they take on Australia for a second time at 9 p.m. local time (2 p.m. CDT). Visit www.USASoftball.com for complete Team USA coverage as they compete in Italian Softball Week and move on to the International Softball Federation (ISF) Women’s World Championship beginning August 15.
**courtesy of ASA/USA Softball