Eagles soar past Brazil at Pan Am Qualifier
San Juan, Puerto Rico — The USA Softball Women’s National team earned its second victory of the Pan American Games Qualifier in an 11-0, five-inning win over Brazil Sunday afternoon. Jessica Moore (Sutter, Calif.) recorded a solid performance from circle for the Red, White and Blue tossing five complete innings and allowing just three hits. With the win, the U.S. moves to 2-0 in round-robin play and will return to the field tomorrow morning for a 9 a.m. EST matchup against Cuba.
The U.S. started things early in the top of the first when Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) reached second base on an error by the first baseman. Raven Chavanne (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) followed with a single before Lauren Gibson (Pasadena, Md.) drove Moultrie in with an RBI single to put runners on the corners. After a walk to Valerie Arioto (Pleasanton, Calif.) loaded the bases for Team USA, Nicole Hudson (Webb City, Mo.) hit a single to score Chavanne. Taylor Thom (Cedar Park, Texas), Destinee Martinez (Corona, Calif.) and Moultrie continued the Red, White and Blue's rally, combining for four RBI to give the U.S. a 6-0 lead entering the bottom half of the inning.
With a comfortable lead, Moore retired the first two Brazilian batters with a groundout and a popup before Veronica Fukunishi singled to right. USA's defense held strong, as a flyout to center closed the inning to bring USA back to the plate.
The second and third innings were relatively quiet for both squads as the U.S. would put two runners on base but failed to score in the top of the second inning. Moore retired Brazil in order in the bottom of the second with two groundouts and a pop up to Chavanne. In the top of the third, Raquelli Bianco entered in relief for Brazilian starter Nilze Hilga, and Bianco was able to retire the U.S. in order for the first and only time in the game. In the bottom half of the inning, Moore issued a walk to leadoff batter Thais Nagano, but was able to get the next three batters to groundout.
Gibson singled with one out in the top of the fourth before scoring on a double from Lauren Chamberlain (Trabuco Canyon, Calif.). Arioto then connected for her second home run of the Qualifier to put the U.S. up 9-0. Brazil put their first runner in scoring position in the bottom of the fourth after Fukunishi recorded her second single of the game. Vivian Morimoto then reached on a fielder's choice as Thom connected with Kourtney Salvarola (Arnold, Md.), who entered in the fourth for Gibson at second base, to get Fukunishi out at second. Martha Muraz then hit another ground ball to Thom to get Morimoto out at second, but an overthrow by Salvarola to first baseman Arioto advanced Muraz to second base. Brazil would then get runners on first and third as Thom midhandled a ground ball, but popup to Moultrie in left ended the threat and kept Brazil off the scoreboard.
USA would score another two runs in the top of the fifth as Taylor Hoagland (Flower Mound, Texas) sent a long ball over left field fence to plate two after Martinez led off the inning with a walk. Heading into the bottom of the fifth, USA led 11-0 and needed just three outs to end the game via run-rule. A leadoff single by Nagano gave Brazil their third hit of the game, but a double play cleared the bases. Kim Chan hit a groundball to Arioto, who threw out Nagano at second and Thom then connected with Salvarola to get Chan out at first. With two outs, another groundout to Arioto ended the game, as USA walked away with the 11-0 (5 inning) run-rule.
Up next for the U.S. is a matchup against Cuba tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. EST. USA recently faced Cuba during the Mayor's Cup in Puerto Rico where Team USA defeated the Cubans 4-1. Live stats and online streaming (pay-per-view) will be available throughout the Pan American Games Qualifier and links can be found at USASoftball.com.