USA Elite improves to 3 and 1USA Elite improves to 3-1
PLANT CITY, FL --- Improving to 3-1 in round robin play, the USA Elite team captured two wins on Wednesday afternoon as pitchers Kami Keiter (Arvada, CO) and Amy Harre (Nashville, IL) earned the victories in their national team pitching debuts. A 2-1 slip by Australia followed by a 2-0 victory over the Netherlands, outfielder Sara Dean (Valencia, CA) led the ranks contributing a 3-for-6 day with two RBI.
“Having two rookie pitchers get their first wins in the Red, White and Blue uniform is quite a day,” said head coach Jay Miller. “I think Kami and Amy did a great job from the circle along with Alicia and Monica who came in the seventh inning and did their job. Offensively we still need to get on track. We are fighting things at the plate and just need more swings and at bats. Hopefully that will come around and we will be playing our best ball come the medal rounds.”
Up next the U.S. will meet Canada at 9 a.m. on Thursday followed by China at 12:00 p.m. as they continue round robin play.
The U.S. slipped by Australia 2-1 in game one after a bottom of the seventh one-run rally for the Aussies threatened the game. Winning pitcher Kami Keiter (Arvada, CO) captured the win for the U.S. in her national team debut. The left-handed ace went 6 1/3 innings allowing no runs, five hits and six strikeouts. Alicia Hollowell (Suisun, CA) recorded the save allowing one run in the seventh. Right fielder Dean, batting .417, contributed a 2-for-3 outing for the game.
“Anything can happen in this game as we saw in the seventh inning today,” said head coach Jay Miller. “We brought in Alicia and she did a good job to close things out. The more we play together the better we will be. It just takes a little time. We got some good key hits today to drive in some runs, but overall we have to work on our overall offensive production.” “I was really trying to stay relaxed today,” said Keiter. “I knew my defense was behind me all the way and the offense put a run on the board early to help out. Today was very exciting and being able to play with some of the greatest athletes in the nation has been such an honor.”
A turn around effort from day one, the U.S. bats opened early to take a 1-0 lead in the top of the first against the Aussies. A lead off walk to third baseman Vicky Galindo (Union City, CA) followed by a stolen base put speedster Galindo in scoring position with just one out. Andrea Duran (Selma, CA) then singled through the right side advancing Galindo to third. A stolen base by Duran put two runners in scoring position as Sara Dean (Valencia, CA) knocked in her third RBI of the tournament to give the U.S. the 1-0 lead.
The sluggish bats of the U.S returned, however, as Aussie pitcher Catherine Bishop held the U.S. from the second to the sixth inning allowing just one hit from U.S. catcher Heather Scaglione (San Diego, CA). Australia saw just two runners in scoring position through five innings with one in the first after a pair of base hits and another in the fourth off a Caitlin Benyi (Scottsdale, AZ) fielding error.
The U.S. offense struck again in the sixth as it was the top of the order again who produced the insurance run. Taking a 2-0 lead, Galindo led the inning with a walk followed by a Norrelle Dickson (Orange, CA) sacrifice bunt to advance. Another walk to Duran put runners on board for top hitter Dean who smacked another RBI single through the left side scoring Galindo.
Just three outs from the win, the U.S. battled an Australian rally in the seventh after a base hit and a sacrifice bunt put Aussie Kym Turnell in scoring position. Another single through the right side then put the winning run at the plate threatening the U.S. victory. Calling on Hollowell from the bullpen, Australia would score one run on a fielder’s choice, but workhorse Hollowell shut down the Aussie’s hopes with back-to-back strikeouts to win the game.
Game two took similar shape to game one as the U.S. slipped by the Netherlands in a 2-0 victory. A 2-for-2 performance for designated player Dickson, winning pitcher Harre allowed just four hits in the win retiring six batters via the strikeout. Monica Abbott (Salina, CA) recorded the save entering in the seventh inning closing the game with two strikeouts.
An offensive drought once again, both teams struggled through the first four innings as the Red, White and Blue left four runners stranded and connected on just one hit. Shortstop Jodie Legaspi (Garden Grove, CA) changed the tide in the fifth blasting a 1-1 pitch just over the left field fence contributing the first U.S. home run of the tournament. Followed by a single and stolen base from Catalina Morris (Sonoita, AZ), who went 2-for-3, Team USA later pushed a second run across after a sacrifice fly out from Duran.
Holding the 2-0 advantage, it was déjà vu as the Netherlands mounted a comeback in the bottom of the seventh. A fielding error and single put the U.S. in danger, but relief pitcher Abbott completed the job giving the U.S. its second victory of the day.