Women’s National Team soars to 7-0 victory over South Africa after pitching trio tosses no-hitter

Aug. 07, 2018, 8:42 a.m. (ET)

Chiba, Japan — The USA Softball Women’s National Team (WNT) defeated South Africa 7-0 on Tuesday, as the pitching trio of Rachel Garcia (Palmdale, Calif.), Keilani Ricketts (San Jose, Calif.) and Kelly Barnhill (Marietta, Ga.) combined to throw a no-hitter and lead Team USA to their fifth-straight shutout victory. The Red, White and Blue remains undefeated, moving to 6-0 in pool play at the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) World Championship.


Getting the start in the circle for the first time at a World Championship was Garcia who dealt three-straight strikeouts in the top of the first inning to bring up the U.S. offense. Team USA’s leadoff hitter Haylie McCleney (Morris, Ala.) singled before stealing second and reached third on a groundout from Kelsey Stewart (Wichita, Kan.). After Delaney Spaulding (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) was issued a walk, Sahvanna Jaquish (Highland, Calif.) put the U.S. on the board first with a sac fly to deep right center. With two outs, Spaulding stole second but a groundout from Kasey Cooper (Dothan, Ala.) closed out the first frame.


Garcia held South Africa scoreless in the second, retiring the side by posting another three strikeouts. The Red, White and Blue took to the bats in the bottom half of the frame, as Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) led off with a single and advanced to third one out later after Ricketts singled to right field. With runners on the corners, Kirsti Merritt (Lake Panasoffkee, Fla.) recorded her second home run of the tournament to extend the U.S. lead, 4-0, before a groundout and fly out finished off the inning.


The U.S. remained dominant in the circle, with Garcia collecting another three strikeouts to silent the bats of South Africa. Meanwhile, the U.S. got their leadoff batter on for the third-straight inning as Spaulding singled to center and one out later, was safe at second after Cooper grounded into a fielder’s choice. A single up the middle from Moultrie next would plate Spaulding and move Cooper to third. It didn’t take long for Moultrie to steal second before Taylor Edwards (Murrieta, Calif.) was issued a walk to load the bases for the U.S. and signal a pitching change for South Africa. Unfortunately, a pair of fly outs followed to strand the runners and close out the third.


Ahead 5-0, Ricketts entered the circle in the fourth, shutting down the South African offense on a groundout and back-to-back strikeouts. To no one’s surprise, McCleney hit a leadoff single and after a groundout and fly out ensued, Jaquish came up big and blasted a two-run shot over centerfield to make it 7-0. A walk to Cooper before a double from Moultrie put two runners on for Team USA, but a fly out from Edwards ended the fourth frame.


Meanwhile, Barnhill entered to pitch the fifth and issued fanned the next three batters to finish out the final inning of the game and put a cap on the U.S. victory. 


Both Moultrie (3-for-3) and McCleney (2-for-3) each had a multi-hit game, while Merritt and Jaquish posted home runs to help the U.S. offense. Garcia earned the win for Team USA, fanning nine batters in three innings of work. 


Originally scheduled for tomorrow, August 8 at 6 pm JT (4 am CT), Team USA’s game against Puerto Rico has been rescheduled for 10 am JT (August 7, 8 pm CT) due to impending weather delays. Live stats will be available through USASoftball.comwhile streaming can be accessed by WBSC broadcast and live stream partners.


The softball flagship competition will feature 73 games across 10 days of competition. The top four finishers from each group will advance to the double page playoff round, while nations not advancing will compete in the placement round. The World Championship finale will take center stage on August 12 at 7 pm JST following the bronze medal match at 2 p.m. JST. The top nation will claim the first of five available softball spots for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, with Japan qualifying automatically as the host country.


About USA Softball
USA Softball is a 501(c)(3) not-for profit organization headquartered in Oklahoma City, Okla., and is designated as the National Governing Body (NGB) of Softball in the United States and a member of the United States Olympic Committee. One of the nation’s largest sports organizations, USA Softball sanctions competition in every state through a network of 69 local associations and has grown from a few hundred teams in the early days to over 150,000 teams today, representing a membership of more than 2 million.  USA Softball is dedicated to providing people of all ages the opportunity to play the game they love at a variety of levels by offering recreational, league, tournament and competitive play for fast pitch, slow pitch and modified pitch.  USA Softball annually conducts thousands of tournaments throughout the country including over 100 National Championships.  The USA Softball umpire program is among the nation’s largest and are widely known as the best trained umpires in the game. 

As the NGB for the sport of softball, USA Softball is responsible for training, equipping and promoting the six USA Softball National Teams that compete in events such as the Olympics, Pan American Games, World Championships and other international and domestic events. For more information on USA Softball, including its founding and history as the Amateur Softball Association of America (ASA), please visit, www.USASoftball.com.


About the World Baseball Softball Confederation
Headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland -- the Olympic Capital -- the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) is the world governing body for baseball and softball. WBSC has 202 National Federation and Associate Members in 143 countries and territories across Asia, Africa, Americas, Europe and Oceania, which represent a united baseball/softball sports movement that encompasses over 65 million athletes and attracts approximately 150 million fans to stadiums worldwide annually. 


The WBSC governs all international competitions involving official National Teams. The WBSC oversees the Softball World Championships (Men, Women, U-19 Men, and U-19 Women), Premier12, World Baseball Classic, and Baseball World Cups (U-12, U-15, U-18, U-23 and Women's).


For more information, visit: www.wbsc.org.