OKLAHOMA CITY – Japan jumped out to an early 5-0 lead to down the United States 6-3 Sunday evening in the championship game of the General Tire World Cup of Softball the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America and USA Softball announced today. The win marked Japan’s first at the event since 2005.
“The effort, hustle and fight from our girls was incredible,” said USA Head Coach Ken Eriksen. “We still have some adjustments to make, but I’m excited for our future. Fortunately for us we got to play two games against Japan and get that experience that we needed.”
Leadoff hitter Misato Kawano reached on a base hit and scored on a single from Yukiyo Mine to give Japan the early 1-0 lead after a half inning. The Japanese added four runs in the top of the second to extend the lead to 5-0.
Back-to-back one-out singles from Natsuko Ono and Nozomi Shimasaki gave Japan two runners aboard. The pair came around to score on a single from Yuka Ighiguchi. Prior to Ighiguchi’s s single, Kawano walked and then a single from Yuki Hayaghi stretched the lead to 5-0 after two.
Team USA got one run back in the bottom of the second and another in the third.
Kourtney Savarola (Arnold, Md.) reached on a one-out single for Team USA’s first hit of the game in the second inning. Savarola scored on Michelle Moultrie’s (Jacksonville, Fla.) base hit to trim Japan’s lead to 5-1. Lauren Gibson (Pasadena, Md.) unleashed a home run to start the third inning to cut that lead to 5-2.
Japan added an additional run in the fourth when Ighiguchi reached on a triple and came around to score on a Hayaghi single to give the Japanese a 6-2 lead.
Team USA threatened in the fifth but left runners stranded at the corners to end the inning. Savarola led off the sixth with a single and pinch hitter Nicole Hudson (Webb City, Mo.) walked but an infield fly and pop out ended the frame.
Team USA retired Japan in the top of the seventh and kept the game alive as Nakano gave up a single to Amanda Chidester (Allen Park, Mich.) in the bottom half of the inning. Chidester scored on a Valerie Arioto (Pleasanton, Calif.) double to the gap in right to cut the lead in half to 6-3. Arioto reached third on a throwing error and was stranded there to end the game.
“I think these past few games have shown that this team is full of fighters,” said Chidester. “We’re such a young team and the fact that we never give up is amazing. We come in and keep scoring down until the last inning. We’re not going to give up and roll over to anyone. We just need to start that from the beginning and start getting ahead at the start of the game instead of falling behind.”
Ono ended the game 3-for-4, while Ichiguchi, Hayashi and Mine all went 2-for-4 for Japan. Moultrie and Savarola were the only Team USA players with multiple hits, going 2-for-3 each.
Kana Nakano earned the win in the circle in relief. Nakano pitched the game’s final five innings for Japan after replacing Nana Okamura. Nakano gave up two runs on five hits and three walks. Starter Nana Okamura lasted two innings, allowing one run on three hits and one walk.
Jessica Moore (Sutter, Calif.) went 3.2 innings, giving up six runs on 10 hits and two walks in the loss. Sara Nevins pitched the final 3.1 innings, holding Japan to just two hits and one walk. She struck out six.
Up next for the USA Women’s National Team is the Canadian Open Fast Pitch International Championship in Surrey, B.C., Canada, slated for July 16-22. After that, the women head to San Juan, Puerto Rico August 5-18 at an International Softball Federation (ISF) Women’s World Championship/Pan American Games qualifier.
Bronze Medal Game: Australia 4, Canada 3
It took extra innings for a winner to be decided in the bronze medal game at the General Tire World Cup of Softball. Australia, who came into the game with a 1-3 record, upset the Canadian National Team to claim the bronze medal.
Stacey McManus, who has led the Aussies throughout the World Cup, went 1-for-4 on the day. She finished the World Cup with a .417 batting average and six RBI.
For Canada, Caitlin Lever and Jennifer Gilbert each went 2-for-4. Lever collected two RBI while Gilbert punched in one run.
Kaia Parnaby earned the save for the Aussies in relief of Vanessa Stokes. She issued three strike outs, five hits and three runs.
Game One: United States 10, Puerto Rico 3 (five innings)
Team USA rebounded from a 3-0 deficit to run-rule Puerto Rico, 10-3, Sunday afternoon. Amber Freeman had two two-run home runs in the win as Team USA advanced to the World Cup of Softball championship game.
Freeman highlighted a trio of Team USA players that went 2-for-3 on the day. Taylor Thom added a solo shot and Kourtney Salvarola scored two runs and drove in another.
Team USA combined to score the 10 runs on 13 hits off three Puerto Rican pitchers. Lissette Garay pitched 2.2 innings, allowing six runs on nine hits.
Valerie Arioto earned the win for Team USA in relief of Aimee Creger. Arioto held Puerto Rico to no runs on just one hit. She struck out five.