Monica Abbott hurls USA to Gold Medal at Pan American Qualifier

Aug. 09, 2009, 7:51 p.m. (ET)

MARACAY, Venezuela - The final out came via a strikeout by Monica Abbott (Salinas, Calif.) as the USA Softball Pan American Qualifier team defeated Canada, 3-1, to win the Gold at the Pan American Qualifier in Maracay, Venezuela. It was a team full of heart who had to battle back with two victories today after suffering an early loss in medal round play to Canada on Friday. 

“We lost early and had to come back and battle through extra games to get to the Championship game so it made it that much sweeter. This team today showed a lot of heart. The younger players to USA Softball really stepped up and the older ones were great leaders,” said Abbott. “Overall Venezuela put on great event and the fans were amazing every game coming out in supporting. Also on qualifying here, we know we will be back in 2010 to fight for the World Championships on our home soil in Oklahoma City.” 

“This is a magical group to be a part of. Today every player in the lineup came up and played a role in getting us two important victories. Monica (Abbott) was not only an outstanding pitcher but a team leader throughout the tournament and her performances show she is one of the top pitchers in the World,” said Pat Murphy (Northport, Ala.). “This was a great event for USA Softball and we hope to build on that for next year’s World Championships and beyond.” 

USA 3, Canada 1- Championship Game

After knocking off the home team Venezuela 2-0, the U.S. faced a familiar foe in Canada for the Championship Game. Despite leaving seven runners on base, the United States came through when it counted, with Abbott allowing only one earned run, for the United States to defeat Canada 3-1 for the Championship game. 

Abbott got the nod in the circle and only one runner would reach through the first two innings, off an error by Andrea Duran (Selma, Calif.) at third. Her Canada counterpart Danielle Lawrie allowed two U.S. hits in the second inning and a USA run. 

Langenfeld took the first pitch of her at bat for a single to left field. Kaitlin Cochran (Yorba Linda, Calif.) laid down a bunt that Canada could not defend to put runners at first and second. Hansen was up next for the USA and would pop up to first base. First baseman Sheena Lawrick attempted to pick off Cochran who dove back to first, but an errant throw left Cochran at first, with Langenfeld advancing to third. Langenfeld scored on a sac fly by Maggie Viefhaus (Eureka, Mo.) to put the U.S. up on the board with one run.

Canada countered with a run in the third when Melanie Matthews hit a solo shot over centerfield with two outs on the board. The tie only lasted that inning as the U.S. took the lead back 2-1 in the bottom of the third with Tammy Williams (Osceola, Mo.) scoring on a double to right field by Langenfeld. Williams singled to shortstop to get on base. It looked like more runs would go up as the bases were loaded, but two consecutive outs left three stranded. 

An insurance run went up in the fourth when the United States faced a new Canada pitcher, Jenna Caira. A Williams single to centerfield scored Vicky Galindo (Union City, Calif.) who singled up the middle. That was all the U.S. needed as Abbott was phenomenal in the circle with eight strikeouts and only allowing three hits. 

Langenfeld received the tournament honor for best hitter while Caitlin Lowe (Tustin, Calif.) made the All-Tournament team for the outfield. 

This is the final event for USA Softball for the summer but it has been a successful summer with three Gold Medal finishes. Complete coverage of all these events can be found at www.usasoftball.com. 
USA 2, Venezuela 0

Megan Langenfeld (Bakersfield, Calif.), who finished second on the team hitting .658, gave the team its first run of the game with a double down the right field line to score Williams who doubled two batters earlier to get on base. 

Starting pitcher Monica Abbott (Salinas, Calif.) walked the first batter but found her rhythm striking out four of the next six batters with the other two outs coming off pop ups. 
A double by Galindo increased the U.S. lead to 2-0 in the second inning. Ashley Hansen (Chandler, Az.) drew a walk from pitcher Mariange Bogoda and a sac bunt by Melissa Roth (Long Beach, Calif.) put Hansen in scoring position. Hansen scored on the double but Galindo would be thrown out at third for the final out of the inning. 

In the top of the fourth, with two outs, Rubilena Rojas hit a single to centerfield for Venezuela’s first hit of game. She would later be out at second caught stealing. The U.S. were held scoreless through the remaining innings, stranding three runners on base. 

With two Venezuela runners on in the fifth, both who drew walks, and one out the crowd went crazy. However two Abbott strikeouts silenced both the bats and the crowd of over 3,000 who were on their feet to cheer for their home team. 

Abbott concluded the one-hitter with 10 strike outs for her fifth win of the tournament. 

About ASA
The Amateur Softball Association, founded in 1933, is the National Governing Body of softball in the United States and a member of the United States Olympic Committee. The ASA has become one of the nation's largest sports organizations and now sanctions competition in every state through a network of 83 local associations. The ASA has grown from a few hundred teams in the early days to over 240,000 teams today, representing a membership of more than three million. For more information on the ASA, visit http://www.asasoftball.com/.

About USA Softball
USA Softball is the brand created, operated and owned by the ASA that links the USA Men's, Women's, Junior Boys' and Junior Girls' National Team programs together. USA Softball is responsible for training, equipping and promoting these four National Teams to compete in international and domestic competitions. The USA Softball Women's National Team is one of the only two women's sports involved in the Olympic movement to capture three consecutive gold medals at the Olympic Games since 1996. The U.S. women have also won eight World Championship titles including the last six consecutive as well as claimed two World Cup of Softball titles. For more information about USA Softball, please visithttp://www.usasoftball.com/.