USA blanks Baylor
WACO, TX --- Not allowing a run, Team USA moved to 19-0 in ‘Aiming for Athens’ tour action Thursday night after recording two mercy rule victories over host Baylor University. Improving to a 134 game win streak in pre-Olympic tour play, the U.S. captured game one 8-0 with three home runs before finishing up the evening with a 10-0 victory. Third baseman Crystl Bustos (Canyon Country, CA) went 3-for-7 for the night with two home runs.
Measuring approximately 350 feet, she blasted a two-run shot in game two marking the furthest home run of her career hit during a game. Leading the hitting charts batting .583, the 2000 gold medalist has recorded 40 total RBI during the tour and is riding a 19-game hit streak. Outscoring overall opponents 187-8, the Red, White and Blue combined for 19 hits with five home runs on the night.
“It was definitely the furthest ball I have ever hit,” Bustos said with a smile. “I don’t know the distance, but I know it was pretty far.”
The U.S. bats welcomed the Baylor Bears in game one with two quick runs in the top of the first off a pair of doubles. A fielder’s choice from Leah O’Brien-Amico (Chino Hills, CA) put the first baseman on board before pitcher Lisa Fernandez (Long Beach, CA) connected on her fourth double of the tour to plate Amico for the early lead. Another double sent to right center from Jenny Topping (Whittier, CA) then scored Fernandez to push a 2-0 advantage.
A third run in the second inning, the U.S. continued its lead on a two out rally thanks again to the bat of Amico. A base hit bloop to right field scored Natasha Watley (Irvine, CA) who earlier reached on a walk.
Three consecutive home runs from gold medalists Crystl Bustos (Canyon County, CA), Fernandez, and Laura Berg (Santa Fe Springs, CA) put the U.S. ahead 8-0 in the top of the fifth. Bustos smashed her 11th home run of the tour with a towering solo shot to right center estimated at 300 feet. Then it was Fernandez’s turn who drove a 1-1 pitch deep to left field for a solo home run and a 5-0 lead. A single to left field from Lovieanne Jung (Fountain Valley, CA) followed by a base hit from Kelly Kretschman (Indian Harbour Beach, FL) put runners on before two-time gold medalist Laura Berg (San Fe Springs, CA) rocketed a three run home run to right field for the 8-0 mercy rule decision.
Shutting out the Bears, winning pitcher Fernandez tossed the duration of the five inning game allowing just two hits and no runs. On the flip side, Fernandez led the offense going 3-for-3 with a single, double and home run.
“This tour has really been good for us over the last month,” Fernandez said. “It has challenged us both mentally and physically. We are excited to go home for a few days and catch our breath and then get back at it always working towards our final goal of the gold in Athens.”
Behind the arm of winning pitcher, Jennie Finch (La Mirada, CA) the U.S. continued its dominance in game two defeating the Bears 10-0. Totaling nine strikeouts, the 6’1” right-handed pitcher moved to 6-0 on the tour with a 0.00 ERA.
Silent through the first two innings, the U.S. offensive arsenal combined for one run in the top of third to take an early advantage. A two-out rally, Amico singled through the right side bringing the powerful Bustos to the plate who connected on an RBI double plating Amico for the lead. Baylor threatened with runners at second and third in the bottom of the fourth after reaching on two hits before advancing on a stolen base. However, the strength of Finch in the circle halted the Baylor drive as she retired the final two batters via strikeout.
Pulling ahead to secure the win, the U.S. scored nine additional runs in the top of the fifth off a combination of five Baylor errors and six hits. Leading the inning, Amico singled back to the pitcher before three consecutive defensive Bear errors plated two runs. Two outs recorded didn’t stop the U.S. however, as Kretschman added to home run alley connecting on a two RBI homer sent straight to dead center just over the scoreboard. Batting through the line up, it was Amico again, who led all hitters going 3-for-4, with a two RBI double before Bustos slammed her longest recorded home run at 350 feet leading to the eventual 10-0 win.
Through 19 games, Team U.S. is hitting a team.419 while averaging 9.8 runs a game. The pitching staff has allowed just eight runs with a combined 0.45 ERA.
After a few days of rest and recovery, Team USA will continue tour action on Tuesday, March 16 when they begin competition in the Kia Classic in Fullerton, CA.
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 sports organizations and now sanctions competition in every state through a network of 91 local 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 the brand created, operated and owned by the ASA that links the USA Men’s, Women’s, Junior Boys’ and Junior Girls’ National Team programs together. USA Softball is responsible for training, equipping and promoting these four National Teams to compete in international and domestic competitions. The USA Softball Women’s National Team is one of the only two women’s sports involved in the Olympic movement to capture back-to-back gold medals at the Olympic Games since 1996. The U.S. women have also won seven World Championship titles including the last five consecutive.