USA Junior Women Advance to Championship Game
Juncos, Puerto Rico - The USA Softball Junior Women’s National Team (9-0) secured a spot in the gold medal game of the II Junior Women’s Pan American Championships tomorrow at 4:30 CST with a 9-2 semifinal win over Venezuela. For the first time in the tournament, the U.S. pitching staff allowed their opposition to score but their offense rallied back to earn the run-rule victory in six innings.
The U.S. had no problems with Venezuela in their first meeting during round-robin play tossing a no-hitter in an 8-0 victory but in their second meeting it was a different story as Venezuela collected two hits in the first inning.
U.S. starter Donna Kerr (San Diego, Calif.) struggled for the first time in the tournament hitting lead off batter Mayles Rodriguez. Hernanza Ruiz followed with a single to move Rodriguez into scoring position. A single by Andrea Escobar ended the USA’s eight game shutout streak as Rodriguez and Ruiz both crossed the plate.
Trailing 2-0 the U.S. responded in the bottom of the first by loading up the bases off a single by Brittany Lastrapes (Laguna Niguel, Calif.) and walks issued to Monica Harrison (Garden Grove, Calif.) and Maggie Viefhaus (Pacific, Mo.). However the Venezuelan defense was just as strong as their offense, leaving all three U.S. runners stranded.
In the bottom of the second the U.S. overcame the 2-0 deficit by scoring four runs on six hits to take a 4-2 lead. Ashley Hansen (Chandler, Ariz.) got things started with a single and moved into scoring position on a single by Katie Schroeder (Yorba Linda, Calif.). In an attempt to take third on the single Hansen got caught in run down but an errant throw by the shortstop allowed her to cross home plate. An RBI single by K’Lee Arredondo (Tempe, Ariz.) plated Schroeder to even the score at 2-2. Back-to-back triples by Harrison and Viefhaus plated the final two runs of the inning and gave the U.S. a 4-2 lead.
With bases loaded and two outs in the third, Lastrapes came through with an infield single that scored two runs. Harrison cleared the bases with a double to center field, pushing the U.S. lead to 8-2. Alissa Haber (Newark, Calif.) scored the final run of the game on a wild pitch in the sixth inning.
Kerr settled down after the first inning to earn her third win of the tournament and first complete game. In six innings of work she allowed two runs on four hits while striking out 13.
Host Puerto Rico (6-3) and Venezuela (7-2) will play Saturday at 2 p.m. CST to determine who will face the USA in the championship game at 4:30 CST on Saturday.