Japan advances to championship game with win over Australia

July 15, 2006, 2:22 p.m. (ET)
Japan advances to championship game with 5-4 win over Australia
Oklahoma City, Okla.---It was scoreless through two as both Australia and Japan struggled to muster any offense early in the nightcap on day three of the II World Cup of Softball presented by Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes.
With two outs in the inning, Australia came out swinging in the top of the third scoring three runs off four hits. Sandra Allen singled to center field and advanced to third off a single by Stacey Porter. Belinda Wright stepped up to the plate ripping a double that plated two runs, and then scored off a single by Natalie Titcume.
Japan answered with one run in the third and tied the game in the fifth when Mikiko Tanaka blasted a two-run homerun to deep center field. Japan finally took the lead in the bottom of the sixth when Emi Inui led off the inning with a single to left field. Eri Yamada then came to the plate and slammed a home run over the fence to five Japan a 5-3 advantage.
A pitching change in the top of the fourth for Japan proved to be beneficial as Yokiko Ueno held the Australian offense to just one run on two hits to collect the win. Australia tried to fight back but Ueno, who was throwing 74 mph consistently, closed the game by striking out four of the last five batters she faced.
Japan faces USA tomorrow, July 16, at 12:00 p.m., in what could be called a warm-up for the championship finals on Monday. With identical 4-0 records, it will be a rematch of the 2005 World Cup Finals that saw Japan upset the U.S. 3-1 to take the inaugural World Cup. Australia faces Canada tomorrow at 2:00.