The 2010-11 USA Softball Junior Women’s National Team (6-0) shutout Canada and Brazil in a doubleheader Thursday to finish undefeated in pool play at the III Pan American Championships (18-Under) in Bogota, Colombia. After downing the Canadians 3-0 in their first full length game of the tournament, Team USA beat Brazil 7-0 in five innings, clinching the No. 1 seed in Pool A. Brazil is the second seed and Canada finished third.
“Playing a doubleheader against Brazil and Canada was a great way to prepare the team for playoffs,” said Head Coach Karen Johns (Starkville, Miss.). “Two weeks ago, most of the young woman had never played together except during the tryouts in June. Today, they shutout two of the best teams in this tournament. I think this is a great boost of confidence for the team after struggling a little yesterday.”
The Americans will meet the Dominican Republic, seeded second in Pool B, at 1 p.m. Friday, with the losing team set to play an elimination game at 5 p.m. With a win against Dominican Republic, Team USA would move on to the semifinal Saturday at 1 p.m. with the winner advancing to the 5 p.m. Championship Game. The top five teams in the tournament will advance to the International Softball Federation (ISF) Junior Women’s World Championship in December 2011.
Pitcher Erin Gabriel (Poland, Ohio) came within one out of a complete game against Canada. After walking the leadoff batter in the top of the seventh, Gabriel gave up a fielder’s choice to Corinne Brookhuis. Tessa Loewen, pinch running for Brookhuis, reached second with two outs when Gabriel walked Kristy Noble. Dallas Escobedo (Glendale, Ariz.) then came in for Team USA, striking out Brigitte Aizprua.
“Erin is the youngest member of this team but she is one of the most poised. It is really remarkable for someone who has not even started their junior year in high school to have that much control in the circle,” Johns said. “Erin has so much to be proud of today. I thought that she did an excellent job throwing hard and hitting her spots. She shut down a tough Canadian offense.”
Gabriel, starting for the first time in the tournament, struck out eight, walked five and allowed two hits to earn her first win in the Team USA jersey. She also struck out three working an inning in relief against Peru on Monday.
The Americans set the tone against Canada in the first when an Ally Carda (Elk Grove, Calif.) single scored leadoff batter Kylee Lahners (Laguna Hills, Calif.) and Hallie Wilson (North Tustin, Calif.), both who singled. With a 2-0 lead in the sixth, Lauren Chamberlain (Trabuco Canyon, Calif.) tripled to right field, and scored on a Madison Shipman (Valencia, Calif.) groundout to third base.
In the second game of the doubleheader, Lauren Haeger (Phoenix, Ariz.) improved her record to 2-0, holding Brazil to one hit, a bunt from Kelly Calixto in the fourth. She struck out six while walking three in her five innings of work.
Chamberlain was the top offensive performer for Team USA with a 3-for-3 performance that included two doubles, the first which allowed Wilson to make it a 1-0 game. Her most incredible play came in the top of the first when she crossed home plate on a double steal with Shipman, who stole second, to make it a 2-0 advantage for the Red, White and Blue. Shipman also stole third then scored on another Hossokawa error to make it a 3-0 game.
In the third, Shipman doubled through the right side to score Chamberlain. Shipman, who finished the game with three stolen bases, stole third then scored on Cheyenne Cordes (Fairfield, Calif.) sac fly. Carda scored the third run of the inning on passed ball.
Cheyanne Tarango (Anaheim Hills, Calif.) brought in another run in the fourth when her fly out to left field scored Shelby Pendley (Albuquerque, N.M.), who tripled to lead off the inning.
The Amateur Softball Association, founded in 1933, is the National Governing Body of softball in the United States and a member of the United States Olympic Committee. The ASA has become one of the nation’s largest sports organizations and now sanctions competition in every state through a network of 76 local associations. The ASA has grown from a few hundred teams in the early days to over 240,000 teams today, representing a membership of more than three million. For more information on the ASA, visit http://www.asasoftball.com/.
About USA Softball
USA Softball is the brand created, operated and owned by the ASA that links the USA Men’s, Women’s, Junior Boys’ and Junior Girls’ National Team programs together. USA Softball is responsible for training, equipping and promoting these four National Teams to compete in international and domestic competitions. The USA Softball Women’s National Team is one of the only two women’s sports involved in the Olympic movement to capture three consecutive gold medals at the Olympic Games since 1996. The U.S. women have also won nine World Championship titles including the last seven consecutive as well as claimed four World Cup of Softball titles. For more information about USA Softball, please visit http://www.usasoftball.com/.