USA Goes 11 Innings for 3-2 Win Over Japan
YOKOHAMA, Japan – It was a battle of two of the world’s best softball teams and it was evident as the United States Women’s National team fought through 11 innings to bring home another Japan Cup title with a 3-2 victory over Japan in Yokohama, Japan. Despite two errors and two wild pitches, which resulted in two runs, the team rallied back to defeat Japan 3-2 in the title game of the Japan Cup.
Yukiko Ueno and Monica Abbott (Salinas, Calif.) started in their respective circles and it was a pitching duel with three up three down until Japan’s Ayumi Karino singled in the third. Karino stole second and reached third on a throwing error by catcher Stacey Nuveman (La Verne, Calif.) but an Abbott strikeout kept runners off the board.
The top of the batting order broke the 0-0 game in the fourth when Caitlin Lowe (Tustin, Calif.) singled to lead off the inning. She advanced to second on a passed ball, moving to third when Natasha Watley (Irvine, Calif.) singled to centerfield. Lowe scored off an RBI single by Jessica Mendoza (Camarillo, Calif.) to give the team a 1-0 lead.
Hiroki Sakai came in at the top of the fifth to pitch for Japan. In the sixth, mistakes by the U.S. defense cost the team a run. Leadoff batter Karino was hit by a pitch and would advance to third on a wild pitch. She would score on a throwing error by Nuveman to even the score at 1-1.
Neither team could break the tie in the seventh, pushing the game into extra innings with Cat Osterman (Houston, Texas) coming in to pitch. Abbott threw six complete innings with 11 strikeouts, giving up one run and one wild pitch.
The score remained tied until the bottom of the 10th when the red, white and blue took their first lead in 10 innings. With Mendoza at second due to International tie breaker rule, Crystl Bustos (Canyon County, Calif.) was intentionally walked. Nuveman came through with a single to load up the bases. They would however have to wait for one more batter as Kelly Kretschman (Indian Harbour, Fla.) reached on a fielders choice with Lauren Lappin (Anaheim, Calif.), pinch running for Nuveman, called out at home. A walk issued to Tairia Flowers (Tucson, Ariz.) broke the tie in the 10th with the U.S. only needing three outs to take away the win.
Japan however was not going to give up that easy as they again tied up the game in the 10th when Yamada, who was the tie breaking runner on second, crossed home plate on a wild pitch to tie up the game. Watley took back the lead with a single to center field, plating Lovie Jung (Fountain Valley, Calif.) to give the team a 3-2 lead into the bottom of the 11th. Two strikeouts by Osterman and a runner caught stealing was all the United States needed to secure a 3-2 win. Osterman threw 5.0 complete innings with 10 strikeouts, allowing two hits and one run.
Mendoza was the leading hitter of the event and Watley was named MVP of the Japan Cup. Mendoza hit .368 (7-for-19) in four starts with Watley putting up three RBI including the game winning one.