U.S. responds with 3-0 shutout victory against Japan
SENDAI, Japan --- The USA National team responded to Japan on Wednesday evening with timely hitting and strong pitching to earn a 3-0 shutout victory and get the Red, White and Blue back on track. After suffering back-to-back losses to Japan, the U.S. took the first of a three-game series totaling six hits behind the effort of winning pitcher Alicia Hollowell (Suisun, Calif.), who completed five innings allowing just one hit in her first national team victory. Jamie Southern (Clovis, Calif.) retired six consecutive batters in relief to close the game and earn the save.
“I thought Alicia did a nice job of taking the game one pitch at a time,” said head coach Mike Candrea. “The thing that is amazing about this game is that tonight we finally got the key hits when we needed to. It was big to get that first run and get ahead. And then to add two runs in the seventh was great for us.”
“I felt like I came out and took the game at a good pace,” said Hollowell. “After the first couple of innings, I really calmed down a little bit and took a few more deep breaths. There was a little bit of pressure to get things going, but after a while I got into my rhythm.”
Breaking its 17-inning scoreless streak, the U.S. offense came to life in the top of the third inning when first baseman Jennie Finch (La Mirada, Calif.) connected on a line drive base hit to left center in her first U.S. at-bat of the summer. Followed by a walk to Amanda Freed (Cypress, Calif.), the U.S. saw two runners on base when a fielder’s choice from Caitlin Lowe (Tustin, Calif.) put Finch at third with one out. A left-handed RBI swat from Vicky Galindo (Union City, Calif.) gave the U.S. a 1-0 lead when Finch scored from third.
Japan saw the tying run in scoring position in the bottom of the fourth inning after Eri Yamada singled down the right field line and moved 60 feet on a sacrifice bunt from Sachiko Ito. A hard hit fly out to leftfielder Freed recorded the third out keeping the game in favor of the U.S. 1-0.
Securing its victory, the U.S. earned two insurance runs in the top of the seventh after loading the bases with no outs. A lead-off walk from Jenny Topping (Whittier, Calif.) combined with singles from Kelly Kretschman (Indian Harbour Springs, Fla.) and Jaime Clark (Tustin, Calif.) gave Tairia Flowers (Tucson, Ariz.) a perfect RBI situation. Taking advantage, Flowers drove a single through the right side scoring pinch runner Laura Berg (Santa Fe Springs, Calif.) before a sacrifice fly out from Finch gave the U.S. the eventual 3-0 victory.
Relief pitcher Jamie Southern (Clovis, Calif.) saw two innings of work retiring six consecutive batters with three strikeouts while Hollowell tallied six strikeouts in her first start of the week.
Japan saw only one other runner reach scoring position when Motoko Fujimoto walked in the first inning and was sacrificed to second base.
Six U.S. batters contributed one hit a piece while Finch, Galindo and Flowers recorded RBI.
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 88 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 three consecutive gold medals at the Olympic Games since 1996. The U.S. women have also won seven World Championship titles including the last five consecutive.