USA blanks Australia in playoffs
Brampton, Ont. – The USA Softball Junior Women’s National Team defeated Australia 7-0 (five innings) in the opening round of playoffs at the International Softball Federation (ISF) X Junior Women’s World Championship (JWWC) on Friday evening the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America and USA Softball announced today. USA will move on to the second round in the winners bracket on Saturday where they will face Japan, who won their matchup against New Zealand. With the win, Team USA has successfully shut out every opponent faced, with the pitching staff combining for a total of 48 strikeouts and only eight hits allowed over 32 innings of play.
Cheridan Hawkins (Anderson, Calif.) got the win for the USA in the circle, improving her JWWC record to 3-0. The lefty threw four complete innings and faced one batter in the fifth, giving up one hit and striking out four Aussie batters. Paige McDuffee (The Woodlands, Texas) pitched to the final two batters in relief to the close the game out for the USA.
“We were tested a little bit more today,” said Head Coach Tairia Flowers. “The ball was put in play more and the girls faced some tough pitching today. It took us a little bit to make adjustments, but the girls stepped up and found a way to score runs. Our defense made key plays, throwing out some base runners, and Sierra Romero made some great plays at shortstop. It was definitely a team effort and I can’t speak more highly of this group and how well they interact and play together.”
From the plate, USA picked up their seven runs off of 11 hits. Sierra Romero (Murrieta, Calif.), Emily Crane (Troy, Mo.) and Mysha Sataraka (Honolulu, Hawaii) led the way for the U.S. offense, each going 2-for-3, with Romero and Sataraka each picking up an RBI. Jessica Plaza (Huntington Beach, Calif.) drove in three RBI via a home run and sac-fly.
In typical fashion, the Red, White and Blue got it started early as Haylie McCleney (Morris, Ala.) walked for the first base runner of the game. Kelsey Stewart (Wichita, Kan.) then connected for her third triple of the JWWC, scoring McCleney. A double by Sataraka and an RBI triple by Romero led to a pitching change for the Aussie’s, who brought in Brittney Flint for starter Amelia Cudicio. Plaza then sent a long ball over centerfield fence to bring in Romero and push the U.S. lead to 5-0. Lauren Young (Anaheim, Calif.) was then issued a walk before the final two outs of the inning were recorded.
“I felt a lot better in batting practice today and just tried to keep it simple,” said Plaza. “Our team was very fundamentally sound tonight and we put together some great hits. We still have some things we can work on though.”
Hawkins shut down Australia in order in the top of the second inning, and Flint retired the potent U.S. offense with fly out to left field and a pair of unassisted outs by the second baseman. Australia received their first base runner of the game in the top of the third as Alisha Prybyszczuk advanced to first on a hit-by-pitch. Romero then fielded a hard hit up the middle and connected with U.S. second baseman Danica Mercado (Temecula, Calif.) to get Prybyszczuk out at second.
Young started another rally attempt for USA in the bottom of the third with a single, but would later be thrown out at second by a fielder’s choice from Andrea Hawkins (Bay City, Texas). Mercado then reached first on a mix up by the defense, but the Aussie’s answered with another solid play by second baseman Jess Meyer.
Australia got their first hit of the game in the top of the fourth, but a solid defensive play by Romero and two pop ups shut down the Australian rally. USA responded in the bottom of the inning as Crane, Sataraka and Romero each singled to bring Plaza back to the plate. A deep fly ball just over the centerfield fence was snagged by Alexandra Casey, bringing in Crane and putting the U.S. lead to 6-0.
McDuffee entered in the top of the fifth following a Hawkins strikeout. A groundout to Romero gave the Aussie’s two outs when Maddie Cameron connected for a single. Alicia Forte would enter as a pinch runner for Cameron, and was thrown out by Plaza on an stolen base attempt.
Sierra Lawrence (Snellville, Ga.), who pinch hit for A. Hawkins, started off the bottom of the fifth with a base on balls and Mercado followed with a single to put two runner on base. McCleney then hit a single to score Lawrence and end the game via run-rule. This marks the sixth run-rule of the JWWC for Team USA, who have outscored opponents 66-0. With the win, Team USA moves on to face Japan tomorrow at 5 p.m. EST. The winner of Saturday’s rubber match will have earned a spot in Sunday’s JWWC finals.
Playoffs- Saturday (July 6)
GM 5: Canada vs. Australia – 11:30 a.m. EST
GM 6: Puerto Rico vs. New Zealand – 2 p.m. EST
GM 7: USA vs. Japan – 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)
Live stats for all USA games and live streaming will be available via USASoftball.com.