USA Softball crushes Australia

Sept. 03, 2006, 2:23 p.m. (ET)
USA Softball crushes Australia in first round of playoffs
Beijing, China---The USA Softball Women’s National Team used four home runs to cruise past Australia, 11-2, in the opening round of the playoffs at the XI ISF Women’s World Championships. Jessica Mendoza (Camarillo, Calif.) went 2-for-4 in the game with two home runs and five RBI.

With her effort, Mendoza becomes the all-time USA leader in RBIs in a single World Championship with 14 to surpass two-time Olympic gold Medalist Sheila (Cornell) Douty.

“Its an amazing honor and I am humbled. To be apart of such an amazing group like those before me is an honor but to surpass it is unbelievable,” said Mendoza of this accomplishment. “I looked up to all those amazing RBI hitters when I started out. They really set the tone for us today and built a great legacy. To actually be on the same page with them, dating back 40 years, is such an honor.”

USA catcher Stacey Nuveman (La Verne, Calif.) put the Red, White and Blue on the board in the bottom of the second inning with a two run home run that scored Crystl Bustos (Canyon Country, Calif.) who reached on a lead off double. 
Australia responded in the top of the third by recording two runs off three hits. Simone Morrow singled to left and scored on a double by Sandra Allen who later scored on a single by Natalie Porter.

With the game tied 2-2, the USA responded right back with two runs to regain the lead. Caitlin Lowe (Tustin, Calif.) reached on an error by pitcher Kellie Hardie and scored when Mendoza launched her first home run of the game deep into the right field bleachers.

It looked as if Australia would cut into the USA lead in the fourth inning when they loaded the bases with only one out but U.S. pitcher Cat Osterman (Houston, Texas) shutdown the rally by striking out the next two batters to end the threat.

With the game still in limbo, the USA added four runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to stretch their lead to 8-2. Andrea Duran (Selma, Calif.) led off the inning with a solo home run to left field. Back-to-back walks to Jennie Finch (La Mirada, Calif.) and Lovie Jung (Fountain Valley, Calif.) and a single by Laura Berg (Santa Fe Springs, Calif.) loaded the bases for Lowe who singled to left field to score Finch.

Bustos plated the final two runs of the inning with a bases loaded single to left field that scored Lowe and Natasha Watley (Irvine, Calif.) who reached on a fielder’s choice.

With the momentum clearly in the favor of the U.S., Osterman took control in the circle by retiring the side in the next two innings which included five strikeouts.

“I struggled a little bit at the beginning of the pitch and left too many pitches over the plate,” said Osterman. “But we made some adjustments and were able to shut them down.”

Needing only a single run to end the game in the bottom of the sixth inning due to the international run rule, Mendoza took care of things by smashing a walk off three run home run to score Lowe and Watley and end the game.
Osterman picked up her fourth consecutive win in the World Championships after allowing only two runs on six hits while striking out 12 Aussie batters.

The win puts the USA into the second round of the playoffs where they will face arch rival Japan, who is also 8-0 in these World Championships. The two powerhouses face off on Monday at 3 a.m. CT. The winner will advance to the Grand Final to compete for the gold medal while the loser will have to play in the bronze medal game in hopes of earning a spot in the Grand Final.

*Bustos took over second place on the USA all-time list for doubles in a single World Championship with her fifth of the championship.
*Jessica Mendoza tied two-time Olympic gold medalist Sheila (Cornell) Douty for the most home runs in a single World Championship with her fourth.
*Stacey Nuveman moved into a tie for third place on the USA all-time list for home runs in a single World Championship when she collected her third against Australia.
*Osterman moved into a tied for second with wins in a single World Championship with her fourth against Australia. Osterman joins a list that includes the likes of Lisa Fernandez and Hall of Famers Kathy Arendsen, Donna Lopiano, Barbara Reinalda and Bertha Tickey.