USA Elite splits day one
PLANT CITY, FL --- The USA Elite team split day one of the 1st World University Softball Championship with a 3-0 victory over Japan in the afternoon and a 3-2 loss to Chinese Taipei in the evening. Continuing in round robin play, the U.S. will look to rebound on Wednesday as they play back-to-back games at 12 p.m. against Australia and 3 p.m. versus the Netherlands.
A shutout in game one, pitcher Alicia Hollowell (Suisun, CA) totaled 10 strikeouts as the bats of Andrea Duran (Selma, CA) and Norrelle Dickson (Orange, CA) led the offense with 2-for-4 performances.
A silent offense in game two, the U.S. allowed three runs in the first inning and struggled from the plate throughout the entire game. A two-run rally in the sixth thanks to doubles from Vicki Galindo (Union City, CA) and Sara Dean (Valencia, CA) just wasn’t enough as Chinese Taipei captured the 3-2 victory.
A slow start but strong finish lifted the USA Elite team to a 2-0 victory against Japan on Tuesday afternoon in the opening game of the 1st World University Softball Championship. A re-match from the 2003 Junior World Championship gold medal game, behind the arm of winning pitcher Hollowell, the U.S. scored two runs in the fifth to secure the victory.
“We were a little tentative out of the gate but finally connected in the fifth,” said head coach Jay Miller. “Alicia really pitched a solid ball game for us. She really battled and made the pitches that she needed to. This is a great win for our club and big step to build on as the tournament continues.”
Slow offense for both teams through the first, Japan put the game’s first runner on board in the bottom of the second with a base hit through the left side from centerfielder Mina Kowatari. A sacrifice bunt from Sakai Kaori put the Japanese in scoring position but the arm of Hollowell remained in charge ending the inning with a strikeout.
As the U.S. continued to struggle from the plate, Japan threatened again in the bottom of the third. With two runners advancing after a base hit and a fielder’s choice, back-to-back pop out bunts halted the Japanese rally as Hollowell contributed another strikeout to head to the fourth.
“It really felt good to come out and be in this uniform today,” said Hollowell. “We know of the rivalry with Japan and knew we had to come out stronger than ever. I felt pretty good out there and had to pick it up a notch to help my team in any way that I could.”
Team USA ultimately took charge at the plate in the fifth with a lead off single from first baseman Andrea Duran (Selma, CA). Consecutive walks would then load the bases for Jodie Legaspi (Garden Grove, CA) who put the U.S. on top 1-0 with an RBI single through the left side. Adding a security run, Norrelle Dickson sent a blooper over third base plating pinch runner Catalina Morris (Sonoita, AZ) for the 2-0 advantage.
The U.S. loaded the bases again in the sixth thanks to hits from Sara Dean (Valencia, CA) and Duran, but Japan held off the surge as the U.S. took home the 2-0 victory. Dickson and Duran led all hitters going 2-for-4 in the game.
In game two, Chinese Taipei took an early 3-0 lead in the first off back-to-back base hits and a series of throwing errors by the U.S. With runners at first and second, a fielding error from Lisa Dodd (San Diego, CA) off a pick off throw from catcher Heather Scaglione (San Diego, CA) advanced the runners. A bobbled fielder’s choice back to losing pitcher Monica Abbott (Salina, CA) then plated the first Taipei run before an RBI single from Taipei’s Hui Chen Chiang pushed the lead to 2-0. A second fielding error from shortstop Kristie Fox (San Diego, CA) soon put Taipei in a comfortable 3-0 in the first.
“We dug ourselves into a hole in that first inning,” said coach Miller. “We kicked the ball around and made some errors that cost us. Monica struggled but settled down from the circle and then we just didn’t give ourselves a chance offensively. We really couldn’t put anything together and they really played a nice game and made some good plays. We have to bounce back tomorrow and pick things back up with two strong games.”
The stagnant U.S. bats remained as a series of fly outs and ground outs through five innings kept the U.S. from scoring. A two-run spark in the top of the sixth after doubles from Vicki Galindo (Union City, CA) and Sara Dean (Valencia, CA) looked to be promising, but the Taipei defense and pitching eventually sealed the 3-2 defeat.
The U.S. totaled five hits for the game while Abbott tallied 10 strikeouts from the circle.