JUNIOR WOMEN'S PROGRAM HISTORY
The Junior Women’s National Team first captured a Gold Medal at the ISF Junior Women’s World Championship in Oklahoma City in 1987. The team followed up with another first-place finish in 1995 in Normal, Illinois before claiming back-to-back silver medals in 1999 and 2003. Since then, the team has brought back two Gold Medals, one in 2007 and one in 2011.
The International Softball Federation hosted its first World Championship for Junior Women in 1981 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The USA Junior Women’s National Team completed round-robin play with an 8-1 record to advance into the playoffs. In the playoffs the USA defeated China 1-0 in its opening game to move into the gold medal game. In the grand final the USA could not push a run across and lost to Japan 1-0 to finish with a silver medal.
At the 1985 ISF Junior Women’s World Championship in Fargo, ND, the USA moved into the play-off round with a 6-1 record in round-robin competition. In the playoffs the U.S. dropped back-to-back games to Japan (3-0) and China (1-0) in 11 innings to secure a bronze medal. Michele Granger was remarkable during the championship striking out 83 batters.
The USA won its first World Championship gold medal in 1987 at the III ISF Junior Women’s World Championship in Oklahoma City. With an 8-1 record in round-robin competition, the U.S. moved into the playoffs to face archrival China. In its first game the USA shutout China 2-0 to secure a spot in the gold medal game. China battled back with a 6-0 win over Japan to earn a rematch with the U.S. It took 12 innings to decide a champion but when it was over it was the USA taking home gold with a 1-0 win.
In 1991 at the IV ISF Junior Women’s World Championships in Adelaide, Australia, the USA and Japan both finished round-robin play with identical 10-1 records to move into the playoffs. The two world powers met in the opening round and it was the U.S. earning a 1-0 win to advance its second consecutive gold medal game. Japan came back with a 3-0 win over China to set up a showdown with the USA. In the gold medal game, the U.S. could not get its offense going and suffered a 1-0 loss to Japan to finish with a its second silver medal in four years.
It took eight years but the USA picked up its second ISF Junior Women’s World Championship in 1995 in Normal, Ill. It was one of the most dominating performances by any team since the championship began in 1979. The Red, White and Blue posted a perfect 15-0 record, won seven games by the international run-rule and outscored its opponents 126-0. The pitching staff combined for five no-hitters including a perfect game while the offense posted double-digit runs in seven of the 15 games.
At the 1999 ISF Junior Women’s World Championship in Taipei, Taiwan, the USA looked to match its efforts from 1995 World Championships and secure a third gold medal but it didn't happen as Japan knocked off the U.S. twice to claim the title. With a perfect 8-0 record heading into its final game of round-robin, the U.S. lost 1-0 to Japan in 11 innings. A 5-1 win over Chinese Taipei in the playoffs got the U.S. into the gold medal game and a rematch with Japan. In the finals, Japan was just too tough and secured its second gold medal with a 3-1 win.
In 2003 in Nanjing, China in front of a sell out crowd, the USA Softball Junior Women’s National Team fell 3-2 in a disappointing extra inning loss against defending champion Japan in the Gold Medal game. A combination of U.S. errors hurt the Red, White and Blue attack after battling back with a 7-0 win over Australia earlier in the day to earn a spot in the gold medal game to face Japan. It marked the second consecutive World Championship silver medal for the U.S. Junior National Team. In 2007, the U.S. faced Japan again for the Gold Medal. Japan take a quick 1-0 lead with a run in the top of the first inning , however Team USA tallied twice in the bottom of the second and three pitchers combined to hold off the Japanese, The U.S. cemented the Gold Medal game with a run in the bottom of the fifth.
In 2011, the U.S. rebounded from a loss to Japan to capture the Gold Medal. After being shut out in the semi-final, Team USA run-ruled Chinese Taipei 12-3 (six innings) to face off against their long-time rivals. USA got four runs on a Cheyenne Tarango grand slam home run in the bottom of the fourth inning. Lauren Haeger closed the door with a complete-game performance that saw her strike out seven and limit the silver medalists to five hits, less than 24 hours after they’d recorded eleven against three U.S. pitchers.