USA Schutt Elite Upends Chinese Taipei, 1-0, in 10 Innings
IRVINE, Calif. - Sara Dean (Valencia, Calif.) delivered a bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 10th inning to score Norrelle Dickson (Orange, Calif.) with the only run of the game as USA Schutt Elite edged Chinese Taipei on Friday night. With the triumph, the U.S. secured the number one seed in its pool and will face either Storm USA or All-American Softball in the quarterfinal round of the Champions Cup playoffs on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. Right-hander Alicia Hollowell (Suisun, Calif.) crafted a two-hit shutout to pick up the win, finishing with nine strikeouts. A pitching duel saw the teams combine for just five hits.
“It was a great game for us to be in,” said Head Coach Jay Miller. “We received tremendous pitching from Alicia (Hollowell), as she made great pitches in several tough situations. We had a lot of opportunities but did not do a good job of making adjustments at the plate, letting a few chances slip through our grasp in regulation. To be in a tie-breaker under pressure should help us mature as a ballclub. Still, this was a solid team victory all around. Sara (Dean) hit the ball well all day and it was nice to see her hard work pay off with the game-winning RBI. Fortunately, Norrelle (Dickson) found the plate. It’s good to end pool play with a victory and should give us a boost heading into the playoffs.”
Dickson legged out an infield hit to start the home portion of the fourth and was sacrificed to second on a well-placed bunt by Vicki Galindo (Union
City, Calif.). Chia Yen Wu induced a fly ball to left by Kristie Fox (San Diego, Calif.) and had Andrea Duran (Selma, Calif.) ground out to short to preserve the scoreless tie.
Emily Zaplatosch (Scottsdale, Ariz.) poked a single with one down in the fifth and advanced to third following a throwing error on Vanessa Iapala’s (San Diego, Calif.) bunt. With Iapala aboard and pinch runner Jackie Rinehart (Reno, Nev.) perched on third, Caitlin Benyi (Scottsdale, Ariz.) flew out to shallow right and Caitlin Lowe (Tustin, Calf.) grounded out to the pitcher.
Chiu Ching Li thwarted Hollowell’s bid for a no-hitter with a flare into left to begin the sixth. The right-hander responded by having Hui Chun Yang and Miao-Yi Chen pop up bunts before whiffing Show Tzu Yen for her seventh strikeout. Po Jen Lin took over for Wu in the bottom of the sixth and retired USA in order.
Feng Yin Chen launched a double to the fence to open the seventh and moved over to third on a bunt by Ya Fen Wang. Chinese Taipei tried to manufacture a run with a suicide squeeze by Tzu Wi Pen, however, first baseman Iapala flipped the relay to Zaplatosch to nail Chen at the dish. Hollowell managed to keep the zeroes on the board with a punch-out of Hui-Wen Huang. The U.S. bats continued to slumber, going down one-two-three to send the contest into extra innings.
With the international tiebreaker in effect at the outset of the eighth and Chinese Taipei pinch runner Meng Ting Lai placed on second, Hsaio Ping Wang pushed her teammate to third with a bunt. Hollowell worked out of the jam by inducing consecutive infield flies by Li and Yang. Zaplatosch occupied second for USA Schutt Elite but could not score after fly outs from Iapala and Benyi and being called out for leaving the base too early on the tag-up situation.
After Chinese Taipei failed to crack the ice in the ninth, Benyi was positioned on second base. A bunt from Lowe put the potential winning run at third base but Dickson lined into a double play to the third baseman to extend the affair into another stanza. With Chen aboard, Wang executed a bunt before Hollowell caught Pen looking for her ninth K and had Huang foul out to Duran at third base.
In the bottom of the 10th, Dickson was placed on second but stayed there when the shortstop misplayed Galindo’s grounder. Fox laid down a bunt to advance her teammates to second and third and Duran was intentionally walked to load the sacks. Dean stepped into the batter’s box and arched a sacrifice fly into left field to bring across Dickson with the lone run of the game. The ball was not hit too deep so Dickson’s speed became an asset and she slid in past the sprawling catcher to beat the tag.