Juan, Puerto Rico – Following an eight hour rain delay, the USA Softball Women's
National Team defeated Canada 8-2 to capture their first playoff win at the Pan
American Games Qualifier the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America and
USA Softball announced today. With the win, the U.S. moves on to the second
round of playoffs, where they face Cuba at 3 p.m. EST.
Sara Nevins (Pineallas Park, Fla.) got the start in the circle for the Red, White and Blue, picking up four strikeouts while issuing five hits, two walks and two runs in five innings pitched. Jessica Moore (Sutter, Calif.) entered in relief in the top of the sixth, picking up one strikeout and Cheridan Hawkins (Anderson, Calif.) threw the final inning of the game, striking out two. As a team, USA had seven hits and seven RBI, with Lauren Chamberlain (Trabuco Canyon, Calif.) and Lindsey Ziegenhirt (Elk Grove, Calif.) each collecting two RBI. Ziegenhirt finished the contest going 2-for-3 with a double and solo homerun.
Both sides would put runners on base in the first inning, but great pitching and defense kept any runs from crossing the plate. Valerie Arioto (Pleasanton, Calif.) led off the second inning with a double and later scored after Taylor Thom (Cedar Park, Texas) reached base following an error by the shortstop. Thom then stole second base, bringing Ziegenhirt to the plate. With a 2-2 count, Ziegenhirt hit a line drive to a diving right fielder to record her second double of the Qualifier, plating Thom. Destinee Martinez (Corona, Calif.) then reached on a drop ball by the first baseman and a walk to Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) loaded the bases for the U.S.
A single by Raven Chavanne (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) pushed in
another run for the Americans and a walk to Gibson and a sac-fly by Amanda
Chidester (Allen Park, Mich.) plated two more runs. Chamberlain continued
USA's scoring with a two-run single to give USA a 7-0 lead. In the bottom of
the second inning, Nevins issued a walk to Jennifer Gilbert with one out, but a
strikeout and a ground out to Chavanne at third kept Gilbert stranded at first.
Martinez would reach base in the top of the third with a one out walk, but two fly outs later, Canada returned to the plate. Canada got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the inning after Natalie Wideman led off with a single. Caitlin Lever then hit into a fielder’s choice to get Wideman out at second and a fly out gave the U.S. two outs. Jennifer Yee then singled to put runners at first and second before Heather Ebert singled to right field to score Lever and prevent the shutout.
Gibson led off the top of the fourth with a leadoff walk, but was caught stealing for the third out of the inning following back-to-back fly outs. Canada would get a leadoff single in the bottom of the inning but a pair of fly outs and a strikeout kept another Canadian run off the board. Much like the previous inning, USA put two runners on base with a set of walks in the top of the fifth, but a pair of fly outs brought Canada back bat. Lever started the bottom of the fifth for Canada with a single and advanced on a fielder’s choice with both runners being called safe. Nevins then issued a walk to Yee to load the bases before a sac-fly to Rhea Taylor (Atlanta, Ga.) in left field brought Lever home to bring the score to 7-2.
Both sides were kept form scoring in the sixth inning as USA stranded two base runners after Gibson connected for a single and Arioto reached on a walk. Moore entered in relief for Nevins in the bottom of the sixth, retiring the Canadians in order. The Red, White and Blue added another run to extend their lead after Ziegenhirt connected for a homerun in the top of the seventh, giving USA an 8-2 lead.
Hawkins entered the circle for the U.S. in the bottom of the seventh, where she issued a strikeout to her first batter faced. A groundout to Chamberlain at first brought Yee back to the plate, who hit a double but Hawkins responded with a strikeout to end the game.
Up next for the eagles is a 3 p.m. EST matchup against Cuba. This marks the third time USA had faced Cuba this year. In their first meeting, USA defeated the Cubans 4-1 and then walked away with a 5-1 come from behind win in their second game. 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.
Playoffs- Saturday (August 17)
GM 5: Brazil vs. Canada - 10 a.m.
GM 6: Puerto Rico vs. Dominican Republic - 12:30 p.m.
GM 7: USA vs. Cuba - 3 p.m.
GM 8: Winner of GM 5 vs. Winner of GM 6 - 5:30 p.m.
Finals- Sunday (August 18)
GM 9: Winner of GM 8 vs. Loser of GM 7 - 1 p.m. (BRONZE MEDAL GAME)GM 10: Winner of GM 7 vs. Winner of GM 9 - 3 p.m. (GOLD MEDAL GAME)