USA Schutt Elite ousts Canada from 2004 Canada Cup, 3-2
SURREY, B.C. - Helped by a costly two-out error in the seventh, USA Schutt Elite pulled out a 3-2 decision over Canada on Thursday night in front of a partisan crowd of close to 4,000 spectators at Softball City. With pinch runner Jackie Rinehart (Reno, Nev.) perched on second base, Vicki Galindo’s (Union City, Calif.) grounder was bobbled by the second baseman, allowing her teammate to come across with the eventual winning run. Monica Abbott (Salinas, Calif.) worked the final two innings in relief of Alicia Hollowell (Suisun, Calif.) to boost her mark to 4-0.
The victory helped USA finish second in the Red Pool with a 6-1 record, while the Canadian Olympic Team (3-4) failed to qualify for the playoff rounds. The Japanese Elite Team claimed all seven of its contests to secure the top spot in the Red Pool, while Australia was unblemished to win the White Pool. USA Schutt Elite will face either Japan or China on Friday at 1 p.m. to begin the double-elimination portion of the tournament.
“We did a lot of good things tonight,” said Miller. “Although we had some opportunities to break the game open, we were able to come through with big hits at the right time. Having different people delivering in the clutch is a positive sign of a good team. Monica (Abbott) came in facing a tough situation in a hostile environment and was able to earn the win for us. This is a really good step for our club, hopefully we can continue this momentum into the playoff rounds. I am proud of how we competed in front of such a large crowd and was impressed with our base-running, specifically by (Vicki) Galindo, Rinehart and (Emily) Zaplatosch. There were several encouraging things from today that we all hope to build upon.”
In the bottom of the second, Erin White drew a leadoff walk from Hollowell and attempted to score on Cindy Eadie’s one-out double to right
center. However, a textbook relay from right fielder Lisa Dodd (San Diego, Calif.) to second baseman Caitlin Benyi (Scottsdale, Ariz.) to catcher Emily Zaplatosch (Scottsdale, Ariz.) resulted in the second out. Hollowell would then overpower Erin Cumpstone on four pitches to keep the game scoreless.
Galindo put USA Schutt Elite on the board in the third with a two-out single up the middle that brought home Zaplatosch. After Dodd was retired, Zaplatosch had reached on an infield hit and moved into scoring position on a groundout by Catalina Morris (Sonoita, Ariz.).
Caitlin Lowe (Tustin, Calif.) opened the fourth with an infield hit and raced down to second when Canada did not cover the base. The speedster swiped her sixth stolen base of the tournament with a theft of third and increased her squad’s lead to 2-0 on Caitlin Fox’s (San Diego, Calif.) sacrifice fly to deep center. Consecutive singles by Benyi and Andrea Duran (Selma, Calif.) ended Ani Nyhus’ tenure in the circle, but reliever Kaila Holtz put out the fire by setting down Sara Dean (Valenica, Calif.) on a grounder and having Dodd watch strike three.
Rachel Schill roped a double to start the home portion of the inning and Angela Lichty legged out a bunt to give the hosts runners on the corners with none out. Hollowell induced an infield fly by White before Alison Bradley punched an 0-2 offering up the middle to cut Canada’s deficit in half at 2-1. The hurler whiffed Eadie and Cumpstone to strand the duo of runners. Zaplatosch smashed a single into center field to start the fifth and Morris executed a sacrifice to advance pinch runner Norrelle Dickson (Orange, Calif.). Lowe reached on a two-out infield hit to move Dickson to third and stole second base soon after. Holtz worked out of trouble by having Fox tap a grounder to shortstop Lichty. Canada countered with a leadoff single by Kim Sarrazin in the bottom of the frame before Hollowell handled the next two batters. Schill collected her second single of game with a shot through the left side to bring the crowd to life before Hollowell fanned Lichty on a 3-2 pitch to preserve the 2-1 USA advantage.
White earned her second free pass at the outset of the sixth and Benyi misplayed Bradley’s grounder to not only give Canada runners on the corners with none out, but also chase Hollowell from the circle. Eadie greeted reliever Abbott with an RBI single into shallow left to even the score at 2-2. Abbott had Cumpstone foul off a bunt attempt to Zaplatosch for the first out before Noemie Marin reached on an infield hit to fill the bases. The southpaw caught pinch hitter Jackie Lance looking on strikes and used a tremendous defensive play from Fox to escape the inning. The shortstop back-handed a ball hit by Kristy Odamura and sprinted over to third to record the final out.
Helped by the error in the seventh, USA Schutt Elite grabbed a 3-2 lead it would not relinquish. Dodd stroked a leadoff single and Zaplatosch dropped down a bunt to move pinch runner Rinehart into scoring position. Morris chased a high pitch from Holtz to go down on strikes for the second out and then second baseman Odamura bobbled Galindo’s grounder for an error, allowing Rinehart to come across with the go-ahead run. Following Lowe’s third hit of the contest, Fox slapped an infield hit. However, Galindo was gunned down at the dish to maintain the one-run margin entering the last part of the frame.
Lowe finished 3-for-4 and Zaplatosch was 2-for-2.to pace USA Schutt Elite, which totaled 10 hits. Hollowell allowed six hits and two runs (one earned) with nine strikeouts in five innings, with Abbott yielding two hits with one punchout. For Canada, Nyhus gave up five hits and two runs over 3.1 innings, with Holtz suffering the defeat after surrendering five hits and the unearned run in her 3.2 frames.