CLEARWATER, Fla. – Three members of the Red, White and Blue had a multi-hit day at the plate as the USA Softball Women’s National Team (WNT) closed out the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Division I Leadoff Classic with a 5-2 win over Texas State. Competing in the three-day event as part of the “Stand Beside Her” tour, presented by Major League Baseball (MLB), Team USA’s Cat Osterman (Houston, Texas) got the start in the circle to face off against the Bobcats, where she serves as an Assistant Coach.
Osterman recorded two strikeouts and a groundout to shut down the Texas State offense in the top of the first inning, bringing leadoff batter Janie Reed (Placentia, Calif.) to the plate, where she singled on a ground ball to third. Advancing to second on a sac bunt from Kelsey Stewart (Wichita, Kan.), a dropped fly ball to the outfield allowed Reed to score from second and give the U.S. a one-run edge.
Texas State had their first base runner of the game in the top of the second inning after a batter was hit by a pitch with one out, but back-to-back strikeouts from Osterman kept the Bobcat bats at bay for another inning. Hannah Flippen (San Diego, Calif.) started the bottom of the second off with a single, but a popup and fly out kept her at first. Bubba Nickles (Merced, Calif.) advanced Flippen a bag with a single to center before Reed added to the lead by picking up her second hit of the game and making it 2-0.
Team USA continued to get the leadoff batter on base in the bottom of the third when Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) used her speed to slide in for a triple on a ball hit to the outfield fence and scored on a wild pitch. Texas State cut the lead to two runs with a one out solo home run in the top of the fourth, the first against a Team USA pitcher of the tour. Osterman fired back with a strikeout before being lifted for Keilani Ricketts (San Jose, Calif.), who forced a ground out for the third out of the inning.
Neither side mustered any runs, despite Team USA loading the bases in the bottom of the fourth, until the bottom of the fifth when Flippen drove in Taylor Edwards (Murrieta, Calif.), who had doubled earlier in the at-bat. Texas State once again cut the lead in the top of the sixth after a leadoff walk, stolen base and misplayed ball on the throw put a runner in scoring position. A soft chopper to short allowed the runner to score from third, making it 4-2, USA.
A leadoff walk to Nickles, Team USA’s fifth leadoff base runner in six innings, and a sac bunt put a runner in scoring position for Haylie McCleney, who continued her hit-streak with a single up the middle to plate Nickles and regain a three-run lead for the U.S.
Despite a leadoff single by the Bobcats in their final at-bat, a strikeout and back-to-back groundouts ended the game with Team USA taking the 5-2 win.
Reed had a 3-for-3 day at the plate while Flippen and Nickles each picked up two hits. No U.S. batter struck out during the seven-inning contest while combining for 10 hits. In the circle, Osterman finished with eight strikeouts and one earned run while Ricketts struck out three with one earned run and Ally Carda (Elk Grove, Calif.) struck out one in her two batters faced.
The WNT is now 6-0 on the “Stand Beside Her” tour, presented by MLB, collectively hitting .336 with eight batters hitting over .300. McCleney leads the offense with eight runs scored while Ali Aguilar (Orangevale, Calif.) has a team-high seven RBI. From the circle, the pitching staff has combined for 67 strikeouts in 38 innings of work, allowing just two earned runs. Monica Abbott (Salinas, Calif.) leads with 27 strikeouts while Osterman follows with 20 strikeouts.
Team USA returns to action on the “Stand Beside Her” tour, presented by MLB, with a 6 p.m. ET contest against No. 9 Florida in Gainesville, Fla. on Tuesday, February 11. It will mark the return of three Gator greats: Michelle Moultrie, Aubree Munro and Kelsey Stewart.
Fans at home can follow along with the action at USASoftball.com.