USA improves to 36-0 on tour
SPOKANE, WA --- With over 3,000 fans in the stands, the USA Softball Olympic team continued to dominate tour competition recording back-to-back shut out victories on Saturday night in Spokane, WA. Outscoring the Spokane Area All-Stars, a roster of local collegiate players, 9-0 in game one and 8-0 in game two, Team USA improved USA to 36-0 along the ‘Aiming for Athens’ pre-Olympic tour. They have outscored opponents 329-10 along the tour, while the pitching staff has combined for a 0.27 ERA.
In game one, the bat of Stacey Nuveman (La Verne, CA) put two runs on board in the first for the U.S. after an infield base hit from Natasha Watley (Irvine, CA) and a fielding error by the Spokane third baseman Shawna Foster put a runner in scoring position. Nuveman’s double down the left field line plated Watley and pinch runner Jaime Cark (Tustin, CA) for the 2-0 lead. Another fielding error from the All Stars, then scored pinch runner Lauren Lappin (Anaheim, CA), who entered for Nuveman, giving the Red, White and Blue a 3-0 advantage.
Battling Spokane All Star pitcher Tia Bollinger, the speed of Watley was effective yet again in the second inning with her second infield base hit followed by a stolen base. The quick swing of Crystl Bustos (Canyon Country, CA) then scored run No. 4 for the U.S. sending the ball down the left field line for an RBI double.
With one out in the third, centerfielder Kelly Kretschman (Indian Harbour Beach, FL) took a 2-1 pitcher through the right side to score Lovieanne Jung (Fountain Valley, CA) who earlier sent a deep double to right center for the 5-0 advantage.
The Spokane All Stars put a runner in scoring position in the top of the fourth inning after a blooper base hit to right field from Ashley Richards followed by a sacrifice bunt from Holly Krzan. However, starting U.S. pitcher and two time gold medalist Lisa Fernandez (Long Beach, CA) ended the All Stars chances closing the inning with back-to-back strikeouts.
The U.S. loaded the bases in the fourth with Watley’s third hit of the game, a single from Leah O’Brien-Amico (Chino Hills, CA) and a hit by pitch to Bustos. A wild pitch put another run on the scoreboard for Team USA before another double from Jung to right center plated two more runs for the 8-0 difference. Kretschman then supplied a sacrifice fly for the final 9-0 mercy rule decision.
Fernandez moved to 9-0 with nine strikeouts while Watley had a tremendous outing going 3-for-3 for with two stolen bases and three runs scored.
In game two, the U.S. jumped ahead 3-0 on a two out rally in the bottom of the second. A hard hit single to right center from Kretschman followed by a fielding error by the All Star shortstop placed two runners on the bags. Amanda Freed (Cypress, CA) then connected with a two RBI double to secure the early lead while later crossing home thanks to Watley’s fourth hit of the evening.
The dangerous swing of Bustos pushed the lead to 4-0 in the third after she went yard on just the second pitch of the inning. Currently leading Team USA batting .553, she recorded her 18th home run in 36 games and leads the team with 67 RBI.
Pitching ace Jennie Finch (La Mirada, CA) allowed just one hit in the contest retiring six consecutive batters via the strikeout. She totaled eight in the contest and improved to 11-0 on the tour.
The No. 1 Team in the World wasn’t satisfied however with the 4-0 lead adding four more runs in the fourth to seal the mercy rule victory. Highlighted by a series of RBI doubles from Tairia Mims Flowers (Tucson, AZ), Amanda Freed (Cypress, CA) and Bustos, the U.S. was once again victorious.
From Washington to Alabama, after a day of travel, Team USA will take the field in Montgomery, AL on Monday June 14 continuing along the ASA grassroots portion of the ‘Aiming for Athens’ tour.
The Amateur Softball Association, founded in 1933, is the National Governing Body of softball in the United States and a member of the United States Olympic Committee. The ASA has become one of the nation’s largest and fastest growing sports organizations and now sanctions competition in every state through a network of 92 state and metro associations. The ASA has grown from a few hundred teams in the early days to over 240,000 teams today, representing a membership of more than three million. For more information on the ASA, visit www.asasoftball.com
About USA Softball
USA Softball is responsible for training, equipping and promoting women’s, men’s, junior girls’ and junior boys’ National Teams that compete in international and domestic competitions. USA Softball is one of the only two women’s sports to capture back-to-back gold medals at the Olympic Games since 1996 and has captured the past five World and Pan am gold medals. The USA Women’s Team has not lost a major international gold medal.