LIMA, Peru — The USA Softball Women’s National Team (WNT) completed preliminary action at the Pan American Games on Thursday evening with a 7-0 (six innings) victory over host-country No. 20 Peru. The win marked the fourth shutout of the Pan American Games for Team USA as they tallied a perfect 5-0 record over five days of competition.
Entering the semifinal rounds as the No. 1 seed, Team USA will meet world-ranked No. 3 Canada on August 9 at 2 p.m. CT. Also earning spots in the semifinals are world-ranked No. 4 Puerto Rico and No. 5 Mexico.
“I’m proud of Keilani Ricketts and Dejah Mulipola for keeping Peru at zero while our bats were getting moving,” said WNT Head Coach, Ken Eriksen (Tampa, Fla./Head Coach at South Florida). “I thought Peru did a phenomenal job, especially being the home team in the last game they played and it be against the United States of America. The crowd and energy were phenomenal. Lima should be very proud of what they’ve done and we were really happy to be a part of this.”
Peru came out swinging with a leadoff single to start the game, but Team USA’s defense held steadfast and recorded the next three outs. A pair of runners got on for the U.S. in the bottom of the first with two outs as Ali Aguilar (Orangevale, Calif.) and Valerie Arioto (Pleasanton, Calif.) walked but a fly ball ended the inning with neither team on the board.
Both sides were retired in order in the second inning and Peru threatened in the top of the third with a pair of runners. A pair of walks put two on with two outs, but Keilani Ricketts (San Jose, Calif.) fired a strikeout to end the threat and keep Peru from scoring.
Back-to-back singles by Kirsti Merritt (Lake Panasoffkee, Fla.) and Janie Reed (Placentia, Calif.) quickly put two on for Team USA in the bottom of the third inning. The U.S. plated their first run of the game after a sac bunt by Kelsey Stewart (Wichita, Kan.) was thrown away to give Merritt time to score from second. A double play looked to stop the WNT from adding to their lead until Arioto’s second walk of the contest put runners on the corners for Rachel Garcia (Palmdale, Calif.) who doubled on a fly ball to the fence and drove in two runs.
Peru hit back-to-back singles in the top of the fourth inning and a passed ball allowed the runners to advance into scoring position, but Ricketts once again got out of the jam with a pair of strikeouts.
An RBI single by Reed in the bottom of the fourth made it a 4-0 lead for the Red, White and Blue and the home team walked the game off in the bottom of the fifth with an additional three runs. Aguilar was hit by a pitch to start the at-bat and advanced to third on a single from Garcia. Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) laid down a sneaky bunt for a single to bring in Aguilar and Ricketts drove in the final two runs of the game with a single to right field, giving Team USA the 7-0 (six innings) win.
Garcia and Reed each had a 2-for-3 day at the plate with Garcia picking up two RBI. Ricketts earned her second win of the Pan American Games, striking out nine batters in five innings of work in the circle.
Entering their semifinal contest against Canada, Team USA stands atop the offensive leaderboards with a team batting average of .369, eight home runs and 34 runs driven in. The U.S. pitching staff also leads the Pan American Games with an ERA of 0.23 and 56 strikeouts in 31 innings of play.
Live stats will be available throughout the Pan American Games and fans at home can follow along with recaps and more at USASoftball.com.
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 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.