Australia oust USA Schutt Elite from Champions Cup, 2-1
IRVINE, Calif. - Australia used a two-run homer in the second inning by Simmone Morrow and the pitching of Melanie Roche to capture a 2-1 decision over USA Schutt Elite in the opening semifinal of the Champions Cup on Sunday morning. Collecting their third victory against the Americans in nine days, and second of this tournament, the Aussies will face either Canada or Venezuela for all of the marbles at 2:30 p.m. USA Schutt Elite concluded its summer tour with an overall mark of 13-5, finishing 7-3 at the Canada Cup and 6-2 in the Golden State.
“I was so proud of the way we came out and competed under adverse circumstances today,” said Head Coach Jay Miller. “I can’t say enough about the effort by Alicia (Hollowell) and everyone on our team. It is a sad day for USA Softball but our performance made me proud of the players and people we have in our program.”
“We hit Melanie Roche harder than any time in the past few years and kept giving ourselves opportunities throughout the entire game. If a couple of the balls that resulted in double plays went our way, the outcome could have been different. Also, if Andrea Duran’s shot had stayed fair in the sixth, her three-run homer could have been the game-winner. Even though it didn’t show on the scoreboard, we were the better team today and Australia knew it.”
“Over the past three weeks, we have grown as a team and showed indications of great things for USA Softball in the immediate future. I am excited for our Olympic Team in Athens and what the future holds for us.”
The U.S. staged a two-out rally in the bottom of the first against Roche but came away with nothing to show for it. Vicki Galindo (Union City, Calif.) poked a double that right fielder Sandra Allen nearly tracked down with a diving effort, only to watch the ball tick off her glove. Kristie Fox (San Diego, Calif.) waged a 10-pitch battle with Roche before drawing a walk and the runners moved to second and third on a wild pitch. The hurler worked out of the jam by having Sara Dean (Valencia, Calif.) tap into the circle.
Marissa Carpadios opened the second by lashing a base-hit into left and Morrow followed with a two-run shot over the left field fence for a 2-0 lead. Righty Alicia Hollowell (Suisun, Calif.) rebounded to retire the next three batters in succession. Andrea Duran (Selma, Calif.) led off with a single in the home portion of the inning but was erased when Emily Zaplatosch (Scottsdale, Ariz.) lined into a double play.
USA Schutt Elite cut the deficit in half the following stanza, when Galindo stroked a two-out RBI single to plate Caitlin Lowe (Tustin, Calif.). Lowe had legged out an infield hit and was sacrificed to second by Norrelle Dickson (Orange, Calif.). Galindo sent Roche’s 1-2 offering into right field and moved to second on the relay throw to the plate. Fox would pop up to third baseman Stacey Porter to keep the margin at 2-1 in favor of Aussies.
Roche retired the next six U.S. hitters before walking Lowe with two out in the fifth. The speedster swiped second base for her 14th stolen base in 14 opportunities, only to be stranded when Dickson struck out. Porter started the sixth with a base-hit and later occupied second on a sacrifice by Morrow. Pinch hitter Natalie Titcume drew a walk from Hollowell and the hurler responded by whiffing Natalie Hodgskin to leave two runners aboard. The Red, White and Blue mounted a threat in the bottom of the frame, as Galindo improved to 3-for-3 with a leadoff single to left and Dean smashed a one-out hit into left field. However, Roche would induce a liner by Duran that was converted into a double play.
Hollowell went the distance, giving up six hits and the pair of runs, with seven strikeouts and three walks. Roche also surrendered six hits and registered five K. Galindo’s perfect outing enabled her to complete the summer tour with a .415 batting average and she paced the squad with 12 runs batted in.