US records victory against Portland All StarsU.S. records 7-0 victory against Portland All Stars
PORTLAND, OR – The USA Softball Olympic team collected its 34th consecutive win of the 'Aiming for Athens' tour on Thursday evening with a 7-0 victory against the Portland Ringor All Stars. A 12 hit outing for the U.S. offense led by five perfect innings from starting pitcher Cat Osterman (Houston, TX), the win marked the third consecutive shut out and eighth overall along the ASA grassroots portion of the ‘Aiming for Athens’ tour. Just shy of 2,000 in attendance, the 7-0 triumph also continued the pre-Olympic tour win streak to 148.
Leadoff slap hitter Natasha Watley (Irvine, CA) laid a perfect bunt to lead the first inning for the Red, White and Blue. Recording her 11th stolen base of tour, Watley advanced to second before a sacrifice bunt from Leah O’Brien-Amico (Chino Hills, CA) pushed Watley to third. The U.S. top hitter on the tour Crystl Bustos (Canyon Country, CA) then belted a line drive RBI base hit down the left field line to give the U.S. an early 1-0 lead. Her 63rd RBI through 34 games, the third baseman and 2000 gold medalist is batting .550 and has tallied 17 total home runs thus far.
Adding two security runs in the second, the U.S. put runners on board early thanks to the small ball. Back-to-back base hit bunts from Jessica Mendoza (Camarillo, CA) and Kelly Kretschman (Indian Harbour Beach, FL) put two runners on with no outs when Laura Berg (Santa Fe Springs, CA) sacrificed her at bat with a bunt to advance Mendoza and Kretschman. Her second of three hits of the game, Watley then chopped a two RBI base hit for the comfortable 3-0 advantage.
The Ringor All Stars, comprised of collegiate players from Oregon, threatened in the top of the sixth after their first runner reached base on a fielding error from relief pitcher Jennie Finch (La Mirada, CA). The tying run reached the batters box after a blooper infield base hit from All Star Adrian Alo put two runners on board. But the U.S. defense responded after a ground out to second baseman Amanda Freed (Cypress, CA) ended the inning keeping the U.S. on top 3-0.
Freed also responded at the plate in the sixth contributing a double to left field plating pinch runner Lauren Lappin (Anaheim, CA) who entered for Fernandez, who earlier connected on a base hit. Tairia Mims Flowers (Tucson, AZ) then drew a walk while a Mendoza fly out moved the runners to second and third. Jenny Topping (Whittier, CA) was then called to the plate and was successful recording the sacrifice fly for the 5-0 lead. Another RBI single from Watley later in the inning would seal the 7-0 win for the home team.
With the win, south paw Osterman moved to 11-0 in tour action recording nine strikeouts in five perfect innings.
“I felt a little rocky at first,” Osterman said. “But then I got into my groove and got things going. I had to work to get out of some situations when I got behind in the count but overall I felt really good tonight. This tour has been so helpful to see difference hitters and make adjustments for every at bat.”
After a day of travel, the U.S. will continue ‘Aiming for Athens’ action in a double header in Spokane, WA on Saturday, June 12 beginning at 5 p.m.