USA Elite wins gold
PLANT CITY, FL --- An RBI single from Kristie Fox (San Diego, CA, Arizona) in the bottom of the sixth and the pitching of Alicia Hollowell (Suisun, CA, Arizona) led the USA Elite Team to the gold medal at the 1st World University Softball Championship on Sunday afternoon. A 1-0 decision over Chinese Taipei, Hollowell continued to dominate the circle allowing just one hit as the U.S. concluded the tournament at 8-1.
“Kristie Fox had a great hit when we needed it today,” said head coach Jay Miller. “This was a good tournament for this ball club and we took some strides throughout the week. Alicia really threw her heart out the last two ballgames and defensively we really took the momentum out of them (Taipei) today. I am very proud of this team and their performance this week.”
Finishing the tournament at 4-0 with 49 strikeouts in 28.2 innings, Hollowell totaled seven strikeouts in the gold medal win while seven U.S. batters contributed base hits.
Outscoring opponents 28-4 throughout the week, Andrea Duran (Selma, CA, UCLA) led the U.S. hitting charts batting .400 (10-for-25) followed by Sara Dean (Valencia, CA, Auburn) at .375 with a team leading nine RBI.
“I came out knowing I had to give everything I could to win this game,” said Hollowell. “Our defense was great behind me after every pitch. I knew this team would find a way to win and we did. It’s always exciting to come out on top.”
Quiet bats through two innings, Chinese Taipei put the game’s first runner in scoring position in the top of third after a walk to Tzu –Hui Pan. Back-to-back sacrifice bunts advanced Pan to third, but with two outs Hollowell shut down the Taipei efforts with a strikeout to end the inning.
An opportunity to take the lead, the U.S. loaded the bases in the bottom half of the third, but failed to capitalize leaving three runners stranded. A one out base hit bunt from Norrelle Dickson (Orange, CA, Oklahoma) followed by a stolen base put the U.S. in solid position bringing Caitlin Benyi (Scottsdale, AZ, UCLA) to the plate. A walk to Benyi and an infield base hit from Caitlin Lowe (Tustin, CA, Arizona) put three runners on board with one out.
A hard hit line drive from Duran to Taipei third baseman Chiu-Ching Li looked promising, but a force an out at home and a fly out from Dean ended the U.S. hopes to score.
As Hollowell continued to control from the circle on defense, the U.S. offense put runners in position once again in the fifth. A one out base hit from Benyi and a stolen base advanced her to second before a fielder’s choice put Benyi at third with two outs. Duran was then hit by a pitch bringing RBI leader Dean to the plate. A pop out to Taipei second baseman then closed the inning leaving the sixth and seventh U.S. runner stranded.
Still scoreless, getting the speed of Vicky Galindo (Union City, CA, California-Berkeley) on the bases finally solved the problem for Team USA in the sixth. An infield base hit and back-to-back stolen bases landed Galindo on third with one out. A clutch RBI base hit through the left side from shortstop Kristie Fox (San Diego, CA, Arizona) then brought home Galindo for the 1-0 lead.
“I just kept thinking, ‘hard ground ball,” said Fox. “I didn’t want to put the ball in the air because I had been doing that a lot this week. With just one out, I knew my job was to get Vicky across home plate, step up and make the clutch hit.”
Loading the bases later in the inning, Jodie Legaspi (Garden Grove, CA, UCLA) added a base hit to left field before a pitching change for Taipei halted the inning. Hit by a pitch, Dickson trotted to first to load the bases, but a pop out and ground out would end the inning with a 1-0 U.S. advantage.
One run was just enough as Hollowell and company then sealed the gold medal victory in the top of the seventh with the 1-0 win. Earlier in the day, Japan captured the bronze medal after a 4-0 lost to Chinese Taipei. 2004 marks the first ever World University Softball Championship and the 2005 tournament is scheduled to take place in Taiwan.