Brampton, Ont. -- The USA Softball Junior Women’s National Team completed pool play in the International Softball Federation (ISF) X Junior Women’s World Championship (JWWC) on Thursday afternoon with a pair of shutout victories. In their first game of the day, Team USA blanked Korea 10-0 (four innings) and then shutout New Zealand 7-0 (five innings). The win marked the sixth shutout of the JWWC for Team USA as they tallied a perfect 6-0 record over four days of action.
“The girls are doing a great job of staying in every game and attacking from the first pitch,” said Head Coach Tairia Flowers. “We’re prepared to start the playoff rounds, but there are still some things we can work on. Defensively we aren’t getting as many opportunities as we’d like, but the girls are starting to understand and read each other.”
The U.S. earned the No. 1 seed in Pool A heading into playoffs and will take the field against Australia, who earned the No. 2 seed in Pool B. Along with the U.S., Japan is the only other team left at the JWWC who is undefeated.
Playoffs- Friday (July 5)
GM 1: A3 vs. B4 – 11:30 a.m. EST
GM 2: B3 vs. A4 – 2 p.m. EST
GM 3: USA vs. Australia – 5 p.m. EST
GM 4: Japan vs. A2 – 7:30 p.m. EST
Playoffs- Saturday (July 6)
GM 5: Winner of GM 1 vs. Loser of GM 3 – 11:30 a.m. EST
GM 6: Winner of GM 2 vs. Loser of GM 4 – 2 p.m. EST
GM 7: Winner of GM 3 vs. Winner of GM 4 – 5 p.m. EST
GM 8: Winner of GM 5 vs. Winner of GM 6 – 7:30 p.m. EST
Finals- Sunday (July 7)
GM 9: Winner of GM 8 vs. Loser of GM 7 – 11 a.m. EST (Bronze Medal Game)
GM 10: Winner of GM 9 vs. Winner of GM 7 – 2 p.m. EST (Gold Medal Game)
GAME 1 – USA 10 Korea 0 (four innings)
The U.S. recorded its fourth run-rule victory of the JWWC with a 10-0 (four innings) win over Korea. The U.S. utilized the long ball, as both Sierra Romero (Murrieta, Calif.) and Erin Shireman (Pearland, Texas) both recorded home runs.
Korea put a runner in scoring position in the first inning after Sohee Kim connected for a single and then advanced on a groundout by Gaeun Seol. The U.S. defense shut down the Koreans quickly, as a groundout to first baseman Lauren Young (Anaheim, Calif.) ended the Korean rally.
The U.S. started their offensive strike early as Haylie McCleney (Morris, Ala.) sent a single up the middle and a pair of illegal pitches brought her to third. McCleney then scored the first run of the game after Emily Crane (Troy, Mo.) hit a groundout to second base.
Romero started the bottom of the second inning off with a bang when she sent a shot over the right center fence to put the U.S. up 2-0. Shireman continued her hitting streak with a single, and was later brought in after Andrea Hawkins (Bay City, Texas) hit a sac-fly to centerfield to bring the lead to 3-0. Korea put another runner on first in the third inning after Hana Choe hit a single to left field with two outs. Starting U.S. pitcher Erica Nunn (Apex, N.C.) responded with a strikeout.
The bottom of the third inning started a spark for the U.S. bats as they collected five runs off of seven hits, three of which by way of a double. Ali Aguilar (Orangevale, Calif.) notched USA’s first double of the inning, and along with Crane would score on a Mysha Sataraka (Honolulu, Hawaii) double. Romero then brought Sataraka home with a double of her own. With a runner on second, Shireman connected for her second home run of the JWWC to put the U.S. up 8-0.
Needing only two runs to end the game after the fourth inning, Crane started off the inning with a walk and Sataraka hit another double to put two runners in scoring position. Romero then hit a single, scoring both Sataraka and Crane to end the game at 10-0.
Nunn earned her first victory in the JWWC, pitching all four innings. She issued seven strikeouts while only allowing two hits.
GAME 2 – USA 7 New Zealand 0 (five innings)
In game two, Paige McDuffee (The Woodlands, Texas) threw a one-hitter as the U.S. grabbed a 7-0, five inning run-rule victory over New Zealand, their fifth of the JWWC.
In the first inning, New Zealand put a runner on base with a single by Lauren Tapp, who advanced to second on a stolen base. With two outs, a mishap at short brought Tapp around to score, but Romero recovered and connected with catcher Jessica Plaza (Huntington Beach, Calif.) to get Tapp out at home.
McCleney started the bottom of the first with an infield single. Much like game one, Crane hit a rocket to center to bring McCleney around to score. The U.S. would add another run in the first with a Romero RBI. The U.S. would add an additional three runs in the second inning, with Danica Mercado (Temecula, Calif.) sending a ball over the right field fence. A single by Kelsey Stewart (Wichita, Kan.), a double by Crane and a walk to Sataraka brought Romero back to bat, who plated two more runs with a ground rule double.
The third inning was relatively quiet for the U.S. offense, who collected another run after McCleney hit a ground rule double to score A. Hawkins. Both sides went down in order in the fourth, and New Zealand landed another base runner in the fifth following an error by McDuffee. With two outs and the runner on first, Shannon Hearne grounded out to Sataraka.
Young brought the game to an end in the bottom of the fifth when she connected for a walk-off home run.
“We’ve come out on top early in every game so far,” said U.S. outfielder Emily Crane. “We’ve talked about putting runs on the board in the first inning, and that really helps us throughout the rest of the game. We did really well as a team today and we work so well together, which makes it a lot more fun to come out and play.”
McDuffee picked up her first win of the JWWC, allowing only one hit and striking out five batters.
The U.S. begins the playoff rounds when they take the field tomorrow evening at 5 p.m. EST against Australia. Live stats for all USA games and live streaming will be available via USASoftball.com.