USA Softball

World University team advances to Championship

July 23, 2006, 2 p.m. (ET)
World University team advances to Championship game with 3-2 win over Japan
 
T’ai-nan City, Taiwan - The USA University team, rebounding from back-to-back losses to Chinese Taipei, climbed back into the Gold Medal game at the 2nd World University Championships, defeating third place Japan in a tense game, 3-2 (8) on a bases-loaded RBI by Samantha Findlay (Lockport, Ill./Michigan).
 
The USA scored its first run with two hits in the bottom of the third off Japanese ace Fujiwara, with Lindsey Schutzler (Monterey, Calif./Tennessee) scoring off a single by Tina Boutelle (Katy, Texas/Texas).
 
Japan answered immediately with two runs off Katie Burkhart (San Luis Obispo, Calif./Arizona State) in the top of the fourth. Hirabayahi singled and Takahashi was safe on a sac bunt. The first run for Japan was scored on a passed ball and the second run scored on an RBI single by Oyanagi.
 
Cambria Miranda (Camarillo, Calif./Oregon State) led the USA in the fourth, scoring off Kristie Fox’s (San Diego, Calif./Arizona) double. After Uemura replaced Fujiwara in the circle for Japan, Sarah Fekete (Maryville, Tenn./Tennessee) and Christina Clark (Santa Ana, Calif./Fresno State) had singles in the fifth and sixth, respectively, but were stranded on base.
 
Jennie Ritter (Dexter, Mich./Michigan) relieved Burkhart to start the fifth, striking out two of the first three batters and retiring two more in the sixth off strikeouts.
 
Japan threatened in the seventh when Nishikawa singled with two outs but was nailed stealing second on a throw down from Balko to Clark. The USA got a 2-out infield hit from Boutelle in the seventh but no runs were scored. 
The USA defense sealed the Japanese fate in the 8th. The game entered International Tie Breaker and Japan runner Nishikawa was trapped between second and third. She was tagged by Clark at the end of a 2-6-5 relay. Nakano singled but a 6-4-3 double play ended the threat.
 
With Fekete on second as the ITB runner, Miranda’s sac bunt moved her to Fekete to third. To get a force at home, Fujiwara, re-entered the game and issued intentional walks to Clark and Fox. Findlay, who had gone hitless in the first game against Japan, came through with the game-winning single to left scoring Fekete, leading the team to the Championship game.
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