USA Schutt Elite downs Chinese Taipei 3-0
SURREY, B.C. Vicki Galindo (Union City, Calif.) snapped a scoreless tie in the bottom of the sixth inning with a two-run triple to lift the USA Schutt Elite Team to a 3-0 triumph over Chinese Taipei on Saturday afternoon to kick off the 2004 Canada Cup. Vanessa Iapala (San Diego, Calif.) added a sacrifice fly and the U.S. was backed by shutout pitching from Alicia Hollowell (Suisun, Calif.) and Monica Abbott (Salinas, Calif.), as the duo limited the Chinese to three singles.
“Although we had a slow start offensively, Chinese Taipei made several great defensive plays,” said Head Coach Jay Miller. “When we were able to put some leadoff runners on base, it proved to be the key for us. Vicki came through with a big hit and both Alicia and Monica pitched well in their first time out of the box. Our opponent has qualified for the Olympics and we did not seem to struggle at all. I felt that we were in control and that it was only a matter of time before we scored.”
After Hollowell set down Chinese Taipei in order to begin the game, Caitlin Benyi (Scottsdale, Ariz.) poked a single up the middle with two out for USA Schutt Elite’s initial base runner. However, pitcher Chia Yen Wu would jam Iapala on an infield fly.
Po Jung Chen delivered Taipei’s first hit off Hollowell with a one-out single in the third before the hurler rebounded with a strikeout of Meng Ting Lai. After Chen successfully nabbed second, Hollowell would halt the threat by fanning Hsiao Ping Wang for the third out. Galindo began the bottom of the fourth by being hit by a pitch and was later called out for leaving first base early. Benyi collected her second hit of the contest with an infield single but Chinese Taipei turned an inning-ending, 5-4-3 double play on Iapala’s grounder.
Hui Wen Huang greeted reliever Abbott with a leadoff single in the fifth before the southpaw fanned Chiu Ching Li for the first out. A sacrifice bunt by Li Chiu Chang moved her teammate into scoring position but Abbott induced a pop-up to shortstop Kristie Fox (San Diego, Calif.) to keep the game scoreless. Soon after, USA threatened again when Andrea Duran (Selma, Calif.) drew a one-out walk and swiped second with two out.
Zaplatosch would send a high liner to second base that Tzu Hui Pen would snare to strand the runner. USA drew first blood during the following inning on Galindo’s two-run triple to the fence in center field that plated Fox and Caitlin Lowe (Tustin, Calif.). Fox had opened the frame by smashing a single to left, spelling the end of Wu’s tenure in the circle. Lowe slapped a base-hit off reliever Po Jen Lin to put USA Schutt Elite in business with a pair of runners aboard with none out and Galindo cranked the pitcher’s 0-1 offering to the bring across two runs. Following a pop-out by Benyi, Iapala lofted a sacrifice fly to center to boost her squad’s advantage to 3-0.
“It felt good to come through on a team like this with so many good players,” said Galindo. “It was very important for us to begin the tournament with a win since it gets us off on the right foot as we move through pool play.”
Abbott notched the victory by working three scoreless frames in which she allowed two hits and had one strikeout. Hollowell registered six punchouts and gave up one hit in her four innings. The top three hitters in Miller’s lineup, Lowe, Galindo and Benyi, were a combined 4-for-8. USA Schutt Elite will continue pool play tomorrow at 1 p.m., when it faces the Japanese Elite Team at Softball City.