Delaney Spaulding competes at the WBSC Women's Softball World Championship on Aug. 7, 2018 in Chiba, Japan.
The USA Softball Women’s National Team sure loves playing in Japan.
Less than two months after going undefeated en route to capturing gold at the world championship in Chiba, Japan, and a spot at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, the top-ranked Americans were back in the country for this weekend’s Japan Cup and showed they haven’t lost their winning edge.
Team USA’s standout pitching and stout offense were on display in beating fourth-ranked Australia 8-0 and fifth-ranked Chinese Taipei 10-0 on Friday in Takasaki, Japan.
The U.S. faces second-ranked Japan in the final round-robin game Saturday. The teams with the two best records after three games will vie for gold, with the other two batting for bronze. The U.S. beat Japan 7-6 in 10 innings for the world title.
Left-hander Monica Abbott, who helped lead the U.S. to a silver medal at the Olympic Games Beijing 2008, struck out 13 against Australia, allowing just three hits and no walks. Only one runner reached scoring position against Abbott. Tamieka Whitefield doubled to left with one out in the fifth, but was stranded there.
Ali Aguilar helped the U.S. break open the game with a two-run homer in a four-run second inning. All four of the runs in the inning were unearned as the Americans took advantage of a dropped pop-up to the shortstop with two outs. One run scored on the error and Kirsti Merritt doubled home another run before Aguilar’s blast to right.
Heather Flippen added a two-run double with two outs in the fourth inning to make it 6-0. Valerie Arioto ended the game with a two-run homer with two outs in the bottom of the sixth.
Flippen, Aguilar and Merritt each had two hits, while Merritt scored three times and Aguilar twice.
In the opener against Chinese Taipei, Danielle O’Toole and Jessica Moore combined on a four-inning no-hitter, while Aguilar and Flippen combined for five hits and each drove in four runs.
Aguilar and Flippen had RBI singles, while Delaney Spaulding had a sacrifice fly in the first inning as the U.S. jumped out to a 3-0 lead. Flippen provided the big blow with a three-run homer during a five-run second inning to make it 8-0. Aguilar added a two-run triple in the third inning.
Two-time Olympic medalist Kelly Kretschman walked twice and scored twice, while Janie Reed and Aguilar each scored two times.
O’Toole struck out five and walked one in three hitless innings, while Moore pitched a perfect fourth, striking out one.
It is the Americans’ first tournament since becoming the first team of any sport to clinch a spot at the Tokyo Olympics. This U.S. team competing this week combines players from the world championship roster and those who played in the Japan All-Star Series.