USA Softball Wins II World Cup of Softball

July 17, 2006, 1:49 p.m. (ET)
USA Softball Wins II World Cup of Softball 
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – They came to make a statement and that is exactly what they did as the USA Women’s National Softball team beat Japan, 5-2, in the II World Cup of Softball presented by Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes to keep the World Cup in the U.S. for the first time. The U.S. squad dropped a 3-1 heartbreaker in last year’s title game but it was a change of fortune this year as Cat Osterman (Houston, Texas) tossed a two hitter and the U.S. offense launched three homeruns to capture the title.
Osterman took the circle for the U.S. accounting for every out through three innings with eight strikeouts and one groundout. Before this meeting Japan pitcher Ueno had allowed only six runs in her last seven games against the U.S. but it was a different story tonight with the U.S. putting up two runs in the first inning. Leadoff batter Caitlin Lowe (Tustin, Calif.) hit a single up the middle for the U.S.’s first base-runner and advanced to second when Natasha Watley (Irvine, Calif.) reached first on an error by Ueno.
“It feels so amazing to be here,” said Lowe who hit .524 with a team-tying high 11 hits in six games. “Everyone was so pumped up to play Japan. I wanted to start the team on the right note and I was really excited to be able to do that.”
Jessica Mendoza (Camarillo, Calif.), who led the team with 16 RBI and three homeruns during the World Cup, hit a single to left field to score Lowe and advance Watley to third. A passed ball allowed Watley to score and give the U.S. a 2-0 lead. Mendoza also turned in a team-tying high 11 hits and was second in overall World Cup batting average with .611.
“Coming off of last year and having another team beat you on your own turf – now that really set the tone for the whole tournament,” said Mendoza of her accomplishments. “Having over 6,000 fans saying your name, I mean there’s nothing you can do but hit the ball hard.”
Japan put up their first hit in the fourth off a single by Eri Yamada but no runs scored as she was caught stealing at second. Leading off in the fourth, Stacey Nuveman (La Verne, Calif.) was one ball away from a walk when she homered to centerfield, her first of the year. With a World Cup best .615 batting average, Lovie Jung (Fountain Valley, Calif.), took a 0-2 pitch with two outs and hit it out for her second homerun of the Cup.
“We worked really hard to get here. It was nice to come out and make a statement from what everyone was saying last year,” said Jung. “Last year we had just started playing together, and it made a huge difference this year when we had practiced together more.”
Japan threatened with a run in the sixth when Ito reached first with Osterman’s only walk of the game. Fujimoto entered for Ito as a pinch runner and advanced to third on two straight ground outs. A wild pitch by Osterman scored Fujimoto, halting the U.S.’s chance of a shutout.
Andrea Duran (Selma, Calif.) led off for the U.S. in the sixth and on a full count crushed the ball over the left field fence for her second homerun of the World Cup. Tairia Flowers (Tucson, Ariz.) put up the eighth and final hit of the game.
Yamada, who accounted for both hits against Osterman on the night, singled up the middle and advanced to second on a sac bunt. Masumi Mishina reached first on an error by Osterman where Yamada scored but Mishina would be tagged out in a rundown by Jung when she tried to advance to second.
Osterman threw a complete seven inning game allowing only two hits, two runs and recorded 11 strikeouts. She finished the World Cup with a 0.50 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 14 innings pitched.
“I wanted to come out and make a statement. I wanted to let them know that they were not going to be able to get hits off me from the get go,” said Osterman. “Scoring runs in the beginning of the game really allowed me to not have to worry at the end when they were able to get a couple of hits.”