Takasaki City, Japan — Monica Abbott (Salinas, Calif.), the 2018 Japan Cup Most Valuable Player (MVP), stifled the Japan offense while Amanda Chidester (Allen Park, Mich.) and Delaney Spaulding (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) each blasted two-run home runs as Team USA capped off the Japan Cup with a 4-0 win over Japan. Claiming the Japan Cup title with the win, the U.S. finished their 2018 international season with a perfect 20-0 record.
“First of all I am very proud of the way this team represented the game of softball and the USA Softball community,” said Women’s National Team Head Coach, Ken Eriksen. “This was a very good effort from 20 players that regained the Japan Cup Championship. To realize that this program went undefeated the entire summer and fall season in international competition is to realize something special. To win the Gold Medal at the International Cup, the Japan Cup, and the World Championship was one heck of a trifecta. The icing? Earning the qualifying spot in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Now the work begins for next summer and our pursuit of the Pan American Games Gold Medal in Peru.”
Japan threatened early after retiring the U.S. offense in order in the top of the first inning. A leadoff double and back-to-back walks loaded the bases with one out, but Abbott fired back with a strikeout and a groundout ended the threat with the U.S. unscathed.
Kirsti Merritt (Lake Panasoffkee, Fla.) singled with a line drive to center field in the top of the second inning for the first base runner of the game for Team USA, but a pop up ended the half inning. A leadoff single for Japan in the bottom of the inning put a runner on base, but Abbott and the U.S. defense kept the game scoreless.
The U.S. got on the board and never looked back in the top of the fourth inning. A two out walk to Valerie Arioto (Pleasanton, Calif.), a team-leading 17th of the season, put one on with two outs for Spaulding. On her first pitch of the at-bat, Spaulding drove a ball over the right field fence for a two-run blast and put the U.S. up 2-0.
Chidester added to the lead in the top of the fifth inning with her two-run shot. Aubree Munro (Brea, Calif.) doubled with a fly ball to center with one out and two batters later Chidester drilled the ball over the fence, making it a four-run favor for the Americans.
From there, Abbott took care of the Japan offense with ease, retiring their offense in order through the next three innings of play.
In addition to Chidester, Merritt, Munro and Spaulding, Janie Reed (Placentia, Calif.) and Sahvanna Jaquish (Highland, Calif.) each recorded hits in the win. Abbott continued to do Abbott things – fanning 10 batters while allowing just two hits and two walks in a complete-game, shutout win to earn the Japan Cup MVP honor.
The conclusion of the Japan Cup brings the 2018 season to an end for the USA Softball Women’s National Team (WNT). In addition to the Japan Cup title, the U.S. also claimed: the USA Softball International Cup, won back-to-back World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Women’s World Championships and qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Moultrie paced the U.S. offense all summer, hitting .478 (22-for-46) with 13 RBI, 13 runs scored and two home runs. Arioto drove in 19 runs and hit six home runs in the 2018 season, both team-leading, while Ali Aguilar (Orangevale, Calif.) led with 20 runs scored on the season. From the circle, Abbott was a perfect 10-0 in the circle with 123 strikeouts.
Members of the USA Softball WNT, along with additional invitees, will now set their sights on the 2019 USA Softball WNT Selection Trials, which are slated for January 1-6 in Clearwater, Fla.
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 through a network of Local Associations, which includes all 50 states and select metro 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 USA Softball National Team programs 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.