USA Junior Women advance
Jun 29, 2007
USA Junior Women advance to gold medal game with 3-0 win over Japan
ENSCHEDE, Netherlands – A four-hit shutout from Ashley Brignac (River Ridge, La.) and several key hits propelled the United States into the gold medal game with a 3-0 victory over defending world champion Japan Friday evening at the ISF Junior Women’s World Championships.
It marks the first win since 1995 that a USA Junior Women’s team has had over Japan at a Junior Women’s World Championship. Japan had been 4-0 against the Red, White and Blue at the past two Junior World Championship (1999 and 2003).
“I thought we did a nice job coming out and putting runners on base, which gave us opportunities,” said head coach Jay Miller. “We put a runner on base in every inning, which is what you need to do. That’s a good sign heading into the gold medal game.
“We got a great pitching performance by Ashley and Rosey called a great game. We made the plays defensively, we needed to make. The big key was keeping the leadoff runner off base every inning. That really makes it easier for the defense. We had some big hits throughout order, which is another good sign going into the final game.”
The USA struck first, scoring an unearned run in the second inning. Monica Harrison (Garden Grove, Calif.) singled and then Neena Bryant (Placentia, Calif.) reached on an error to put two on with no one out. Tiffany Huff (Saugus, Calif.) reached on a fielder’s choice, but on the play, second baseman Marina Kira flipped the ball past the shortstop covering second base and into the outfield, allowing Harrison to come around and score.
In the fourth inning, the USA struck for two more runs to make it 3-0. Bryant singled to lead off the inning and eventually was driven in by a double from Huff to left-center field. After Rosey Neill (Laguna Hills, Calif.) moved her to third base with a ground out, Brittany Lastrapes (Laguna Niguel, Calif.) drove her in with a single to center field.
Those runs would be more than enough for Brignac, who turned in a dominating performance against one of the top offenses at the tournament. She scattered four hits in seven innings, walking none and striking out 10. The win moves her to 4-0 for the tournament.
“I think this was our best game since we’ve been here,” Brignac said. “Everyone was pumped and now we’re ready for tomorrow. The elements were a little difficult, but I’m used to that. The rain is the worst one to deal with, but you have to do what you have to do. Just about everything was working for me today. I stayed with my best pitch and that’s what they were going after. If we face [Japan] again, I’ll have the same game plan.”
At the plate, the USA pounded out 10 hits, led by three from Alissa Haber (Newark, Calif.). Harrison and Huff each had two hits while Lastrapes, Maggie Viefhaus (Pacific, Mo.) and Bryant each had one.
“It doesn’t matter who we see,” Miller said. “It wouldn’t surprise me to see Japan, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see another team. Any of the three teams left, we have seen. Whoever it is, I think the kids will be ready.”
The Red, White and Blue, now 9-0, advances to the gold medal game Saturday at 2 pm local time, 7 am Central, against the winner of the bronze medal game. The USA has played in each of the previous five gold medal games at this event, held every four years. In four of those five times, the USA faced Japan. The USA beat China in 1987, lost to Japan in 1991, beat Japan in 1995 and fell to Japan in both 1999 and 2003.