OKLAHOMA CITY – Yukiko Ueno made her return to the World Cup of Softball Saturday evening as Team Japan downed Team USA 7-4 the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America and USA Softball announced today. Ueno went the distance for Japan, allowing four runs on eight hits and one walk while striking out eight.
“We responded really well against one of, if not the, best pitcher in the world,” said Head Coach Ken Eriksen. “We weren’t overmatched. Every time they scored a run we responded offensively. We just ran out of time tonight, and it ended up that they had more points at the end of the game than we did.”
Leadoff hitter Misato Kawano led Japan, going 3-for-4 with one run scored. Misa Okubo also went 3-for-4, while Yukiyo Mine was 2-for-4. Lauren Gibson (Pasadena, Md.) and Valerie Arioto (Pleasanton, Claif.) each went 2-for-3 for Team USA, while Amanda Chidester (Allen Park, Mich.) delivered a two-run home run late in the game.
Japan jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Kawano led off the game with a solo shot to right field off Team USA starting pitcher Aimee Creger (Yukon, Okla.), and Japan added two additional runs with two outs in the inning. Mine reached on a single and Okubo gave Japan runners at the corners. Following a Team USA pitching change, Mine capitalized on a wild pitch from Cheridan Hawkins (Anderson, Calif.) and Okubo scored on a passed ball as Japan led 3-0 after a half inning.
Team USA responded in the bottom half of the inning as Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) lined a single to center and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt from Raven Chavanne (Thousand Oaks, Calif.). Gibson reached on a single and Chidester loaded the bases after being hit by a pitch. Arioto’s single scored Moultrie and re-loaded the bases for Team USA. Ueno retired the next two batters to end the threat.
Hawkins returned to the circle in the second and retired Japan in order. In the bottom of the inning, Team USA added an unearned run as Rhea Taylor (Atlanta, Ga.) reached on an infield single and moved to second on a throwing error before coming around to score when Chavanne reached on Japan’s second error of the inning. Ueno sat down Gibson on strikes as Japan led 3-2 after two.
After both teams went down in order in the third, Japan added three runs in the fourth as Okubo, Sonoka Kuniyoshi and Nozomi Shimasaki all came around to score as Japan got five hits in the inning of Hawkins and Sara Nevis (Pinellas Park, Fla.).
Ueno sat the US down in order in the bottom of the fourth and Japan had a runner reach second in the top of the fifth before Team USA cut the deficit to two in the bottom of the fifth.
Gibson reached on a two-out walk to give Team USA its first baserunner since the second inning. Ueno retired nine straight before Gibson reached. Chidester came through with a two-run home run in the next at-bat to trim Japan’s lead to 6-4.
Japan got one run back in the top of the sixth to lead 7-4 as Rie Nagayoshi led off with a walk and came around to score on a groundout from Rei Nishiyama. Team USA sent a pair of pinch hitters to the plate in the sixth but came up empty-handed as Japan continued to lead 7-4 heading to the seventh.
“We had a lot of hits tonight,” said USA first baseman Valerie Arioto. “We learned a lot about the Japanese team, a lot of the girls haven’t seen them at all, so we learned a lot about their game.”
Nevins gave up a one-out single in the seventh but Japan left the runner stranded at second to end the frame. Team USA rallied in the seventh with a single and double but left Gibson standing on second to end the game.
Creger picked up the loss, pitching two-thirds of an inning and allowing three runs on three hits.
The USA Softball Women’s National team will return to World Cup action on Sunday afternoon with a match up against Puerto Rico at 12 p.m. CT. For more information visit USASoftball.com.
Other action at the General Tire World Cup:
GAME ONE: Japan 4, Puerto Rico 0
Kana Nakano and Miki Kozono combined to throw a three-hit shutout as Japan blanked Puerto Rico, 4-0, Saturday morning at the World Cup of Softball. Misato Kawano, Mana Atsumi and Rie Nagayoshi each went 1-for-2 with a run scored, while Natsuko Ono went 1-for-3 with a run scored. Three of Japan’s four runs came in the third inning.
Nagayoshi was hit by a pitch to start the inning and scored on a double from Kawano before Kawano and Atsumi scored on a throwing error to give Team Japan the 3-0 lead. Ono reached out on a one-out triple in the sixth and scored on a sacrifice fly by Haruka Agatsuma.
Lissette Garay allowed the three runs on two hits and four walks in five innings pitched. She struck out three before yielding to Courtney Rivera at the start of the sixth.
GAME TWO: Australia 6, Puerto Rico 2
Georgia Casey and Stacey McManus drove in two runs each as Australia defeated Puerto Rico, 6-2, in Saturday’s second game. McManus went 2-for-2, while Casey was 2-for-3. McManus scored the first run of the game in the second on a single from Kate Sternes.
Australia added two runs in the third as Stacey Webber came around on a single from Casey who later scored on a double from McManus. Puerto Rico trimmed the lead to one in the top of the fifth as Yahelis Munoz and Dayanira Diaz scored to cut the lead to 3-2.
Australia added an additional three runs in the fifth as Clare Warwick scored on a Casey single. Casey and McManus later came around on a McManus two-run shot to left field.
Jailynn Jackson gave up three earned runs on five hits, while Amy Murch earned the win for Australia. Murch held Puerto Rico to two runs on five hits.
GAME THREE: Canada 2, Australia 0
Canada scored in the bottom of the first and held on to defeat Australia 2-0 Saturday afternoon. Heather Ebert reached on a fielder’s choice and scored on Jennifer Gilbert’s double to give Team Canada the early 1-0 lead. Canada added an insurance run in the fifth as Meghan Rumpf reached on a one-out walk and stole second before coming around on a single by Joey Lye.
Australia went down in order in the first three innings and threatened in the fourth after Clare Warwick reached n an error and made it to third before Canada got out of the jam. The Australians went quietly in the fifth and sixth, allowing just one base runner in each of those innings before attempting a comeback in the latter innings.
Georgia Casey led off the seventh inning with a walk but was retired on a fielder’s choice. Australia had runners at first and second with two outs in the inning but a groundout ended the game.
Chelsea Forkin led Australia at the plate, going 2-for-3. Stacey McManus continued her impressive performance at the World Cup of Softball, finishing the game 1-for-3.
Caitlin Lever went 2-for-3 at the plate for Canada. Sara Plourde picked up the win, pitching 4.2 innings and holding Australia to three hits and two walks. Jenna Caira earned the save, pitching the final 2.1 innings and giving up two hits and one walk.
Sandra Holden allowed one earned run on two hits in 2.1 innings pitched for Australia.