San Juan, Puerto Rico – The USA Softball Women’s National team beat Argentina 7-0 (five innings) to move to 5-0 in pool play at the Pan American Games Qualifier the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America and USA Softball announced today. Jessica Moore (Sutter, Calif.) was lights out from the circle for the Red, White and Blue, giving up just two hits and one walk while striking out four. With the win, Moore extends her record in the tournament to 2-0.
Raven Chavanne (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) led USA from the plate, going 2-for-3 with one RBI. Lindsey Ziegenhirt (Elk Grove, Calif.) was close behind, going 2-for-2 with a sac-fly and one RBI.
“I've been swinging and making good contact all week,” said Ziegenhirt. “Coach Eriksen and I had been working on keeping things easy and soft. I tried not to think too much at the plate, and today the ball found a hole.”
Moore started the game in dominant fashion, striking out the first batter of the game and getting the next two to groundout. Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) got things going early for the Americans, getting on base with a walk and moved to third with back-to-back singles by Chavanne and Lauren Gibson (Pasadena, Md.). With the bases loaded, Argentina's pitcher Virginia Sciuto was called on an illegal pitch, scoring Moultrie and advancing Chavanne and Gibson one base. With runners on second and third, Valerie Arioto (Pleasanton, Calif.) executed a perfect squeeze bunt, plating the speedy Chavanne and putting the U.S. up 2-0. Sciuto then issued back-to-back walks to Nicole Hudson (Webb City, Mo.) and Taylor Hoagland (Flower Mound, Texas), but a groundout by Taylor Thom (Cedar Park, Texas) ended the inning.
Argentina picked up its first hit in the top of the second inning when Pamela Clark hit a double with two outs. A passed ball moved Clark to third before Moore issued a walk to Maria Vega to put runners on first and third. Moore fired back with a strikeout, shutting down Argentina's rally. In the bottom half of the inning, Ziegenhirt led off with a double and was moved to third when Moultrie hit a groundball to second base for the first out of the inning. Chavanne then hit a fly ball to left field for the second out, and Ziegenhirt was called out on a close play at the plate after tagging at third.
Argentina would get a leadoff single in the top of the third, but USA's defense continued to shine as three ground outs brought the U.S. back to the plate. USA would get two more base runners on in the bottom of the third when Arioto hit a double with two outs and Sciuto issued another walk to Hudson. Hoagland then hit a shot to center field, but the centerfielder played the ball well to record the third out of the inning.
Moore continued to shine in the fourth inning, retiring Argentina in order with two pop-ups and a groundout. The Red, White and Blue's offense would get things going again in the bottom of the inning as Chavanne hit a double to score Moultrie and extend the U.S. lead to 3-0.
Entering the bottom of the fifth, the U.S. needed four runs to end the game via run-rule. Team USA would do just that, as Arioto walked to put the first base runner of the inning on. Lauren Chamberlain (Trabuco Canyon, Calif.) who entered as a pinch hitter for Hudson, started USA's scoring rally with a home run over center field and was followed with a walk to Hoagland. During Thom's at-bat, Hoagland advanced to third on a passed ball and an illegal pitch by Argentina's new pitcher Tamara Togni. Thom was then issued a walk to bring Ziegenhirt to the plate, who connected for a sac-fly to left field to plate Hoagland while Thom moved to second. A passed ball and wild pitch later, Thom scored the final run of the game, giving the U.S. a 7-0 (five inning) run-rule win.
The U.S. plays their final pool-play game tomorrow at 4:30 p.m. EST against the US Virgin Islands. 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.