San Juan, Puerto Rico — The USA Softball National team offense continued to roll as they defeated Colombia 12-0 (four innings) to move to 4-0 at the Pan American Games Qualifier. Pitcher Aimee Creger (Yukon, Okla.) tossed in a one-hitter in the victory recording seven strikeouts and issuing two walks.
“I was ready and excited to get the start today," said Creger. "When your team plays amazing defense behind you, it gives you a great feeling on the mound."
Despite a leadoff walk to Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) in the top of the first, the USA was retired with three groundouts to start the game. Taking the mound for the first time at the Pan Am Games Qualifier, Creger and USA's defense shut Colombia down in order with a groundout and popup to Raven Chavanne (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) at third and a popup to Lauren Gibson (Pasadena, Md.) at second.
The second inning would have a much different outcome for the Red, White and Blue as they scored four runs off three hits and four walks. Nicole Hudson (Webb City, Mo.) got things going with a walk and was advanced to second on a passed ball. Colombian starter Luz Perez then issued a walk to Taylor Thom (Cedar Park, Texas) and Destinee Martinez (Corona, Calif.) to load the bases. This prompted a pitching change for Colombia, who brought in Vianys Garcia. USA scored their first run of the game when Rhea Taylor (Atlanta, Ga.) hit a ground ball to the shortstop, who threw out Thom at third base while Hudson scored. The offense kept rolling as Moultrie connected for her first triple of the game to plate Martinez and Taylor. Chavanne then hit a single to score Moultrie and give USA a 4-0 lead.
Colombia prevented a no-hitter as Solibeth Nunez led off the bottom of the second with a single to right field. Colombia's next batter hit into a fielder's choice to get Nunez out at second, but a base on ball to Ibeth Perez and a passed ball put runners on second and third. Creger bounced back, issuing back-to-back strikeouts to end the inning.
USA added an additional five runs in the top of the third as Hudson hit a single before being brought home with a Thom triple. Martinez then hit a fly ball to left field, but a mixup between the shortstop and left fielder plated Thom and put Martinez on second. Taylor was issued a walk, bringing Moultrie back to the plate with two runners on. With a full count, Moultrie recorded her second triple of the game and fourth RBI to extend the lead to 8-0. Another pitching change for Colombia brought in Darlys Perez, but Chavanne hit another single to score Moultrie and give the Red, White and Blue a comfortable 9-0 lead.
Creger issued a walk and three strikeouts in the bottom of the third to keep Colombia off the scoreboard. Leading off the fourth inning, Amanda Chidester (Allen Park, Mich.) hit a shot to the outfield to reach second base. Hudson brought Chidester home with a double and was advanced to third on a Thom single. With one out, Martinez hit a ground ball to the pitcher, who caught Hudson in an attempt to score, but an error by the catcher scored Thom. With Martinez on second, Moultrie collected her fifth RBI of the day with a single, giving the U.S. a 12-0 lead and putting them three outs away from recording their third run-rule victory.
USA did just that in the bottom of the fourth inning. Despite a leadoff runner, who reached on a mishandled ball by Thom at shortstop, two strikeouts and a groundout ended the game. For the U.S., Moultrie exploded at the plate, going 3-for-3 with two triples and five RBI while Chavanne was 2-for-2 with two singles and two RBI.
“I wanted to stay relaxed today at-bat," said Moultrie. "Coach Eriksen and Coach White had talked to me about some things that I used to keep myself reminded when I was at the plate."
Up next for the U.S. is a 9 a.m. EST matchup against Argentina. 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.