USA knocks off No. 1 Arizona 6-1
TUCSON, AZ --- A record 3,541 fans packed Hillenbrand Stadium on Friday evening as the USA Softball National Team, the No. 1 team in the World, defeated the No. 1 ranked University of Arizona Wildcats 6-1. The win pushed the U.S. to 24-0 in tour action while the pre-Olympic tour win streak continues to 136 dating back to May 3, 1996.
Returning to the same field where her #27 jersey is retired on the outfield wall, USA pitcher and former Wildcat pitcher Jennie Finch (La Mirada, CA) picked up the win for Team USA recording 13 strikeouts while allowing just one run. The 6’1” hurler moved to 8-0 overall, while Team USA has now outscored tour opponents 218-9.
“Tonight was really special for me coming back to Hillenbrand Stadium,” Finch said. “My emotions were definitely racing but once the game started I moved into a rhythm and things were going well. The tour has been a blast and playing here tonight has definitely been the highlight.”
The Red, White and Blue took an early 1-0 lead over the Wildcats thanks to the bat of lefty Jenny Topping (Whittier, CA). She poked a single to the right field wall plating designated player Crystl Bustos (Canyon Country, CA) who earlier reached on a walk.
But it wasn’t too long before the Wildcats shortstop Kristie Fox responded taking a 1-1 pitch deep to left field for a solo home run to tie the ball game in the second. It was the first run U.S. starting pitcher Finch has allowed in 42 and 2/3 innings of tour action.
Tied 1-1, the U of A lead didn’t last long as the U.S. put three insurance runs on the board in the third with the swing of Jessica Mendoza (Camarillo, CA). A two-out Lisa Fernandez (Long Beach, CA) line drive base hit down the left field line kick started the U.S. arsenal. Back-to-back walks to Topping and Arizona alum Lovieanne Jung (Fountain Valley, CA) loaded the bags before the left-handed bat of Mendoza pushed the U.S. to a 4-1 lead as she jolted a 2-1 pitch to the left field gap for her third double of the tour.
Adding two additional runs in the top of the sixth, the U.S. loaded the bases before a fielder’s choice RBI from Bustos scored Laura Berg (Santa Fe Springs, CA). The U.S. squad sealed the eventual 6-1 victory in the top of the third with a sacrifice fly to left field, her first of the tour, from Fernandez that plated Watley for the U.S. sixth and final run.
Finishing 2-for-2, Fernandez led the U.S. bats while Watley, Amico, Topping, and Mendoza each contributed one hit a piece. Osterman added two innings from the circle with four strikeouts totaling 17 strikeouts in 24 batters faced.
The arm of UA workhorse Alicia Hollowell halted the hot hitting streak of designated player Bustos who ended a remarkable 23-game ride.
The toughest week in tour action thus far, the U.S. squad will travel to Los Angeles on Saturday before battling the No.2 defending National Champion UCLA Bruins on Sunday at 1 p.m. at Easton Stadium.