Three U.S. batters go yard as offense comes alive in shutout win over Liberty at St. Pete Clearwater Elite Invitational

Feb. 12, 2020, 11:30 p.m. (ET)

CLEARWATER, Fla. – Homeruns and eagles flying were the name of the game tonight in Clearwater, Fla. as the U.S. offense erupted for 18 hits to open the St. Pete Clearwater Elite Invitational. Defeating Liberty 18-0 (five innings), nearly every batter in the U.S. lineup recorded a hit in the win while the dynamic duo of Cat Osterman (Houston, Texas) and Ally Carda (Elk Grove, Calif.) in the circle allowed just three Liberty batters to reach base.

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It was a reunion of Olympic proportions as the contest pitted two-time Olympic Gold Medalist Dot Richardson, who is the Head Coach of Liberty, against the 2020 U.S. Olympic Softball Team. In total, four Olympic Gold Medals and three Olympic Silver Medals were on the field tonight: Richardson (two-time Gold Medalist), Kelly Kretschman, who is serving as a development coach for the U.S., (Indian Harbour, Fla./Gold and Silver Medalist), Monica Abbott (Salinas, Calif./Silver Medalist) and Osterman (Gold and Silver Medalist).

The U.S. scored in every at-bat of the five-inning contest, putting up multi-run innings in all but two. Getting things started in the first was Hannah Flippen (San Diego, Calif.), who picked up her team-leading fifth double of the “Stand Beside Her” tour, presented by Major League Baseball (MLB) to get the offense going. Ali Aguilar (Orangevale, Calif.) followed with a single before Valerie Arioto (Pleasanton, Calif.) was hit by a pitch to load the bases. A sac fly by Rachel Garcia (Palmdale, Calif.) plated the first run of the game. Liberty reached in the bottom of the frame with a one-out single, but Osterman took care of the final two outs with a strikeout and grounder to bring Team USA back to bat.

Back-to-back walks to Bubba Nickles (Merced, Calif.) and Dejah Mulipola (Garden Grove, Calif.) put two on in the top of the second and a fielder’s choice put runners on the corners before Nickles was able to score on a chopper to first base.

Team USA added to their lead in the top of the third after Aguilar led off with a single and Arioto hit the first home run of the contest to make it 4-0. The U.S. added another run after Nickles scored on an error by the Liberty defense. Osterman retired three-straight batters via the strikeout in her final inning pitched in the bottom of the frame, holding Team USA’s comfortable, five-run lead.

Five runs crossed the plate for the U.S. in the top of the fourth inning as the offense continued to be relentless. Singles by Flippen and Aguilar followed by a triple off the left-center wall from Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) brought in two runs while Nickles plated Moultrie with a double to left. The batters continued to produce at the plate with a walk to Mulipola, a single by Carda and a double by Reed, which drove in another two. Carda entered the circle in the bottom of the fourth, and despite a hit batter with two outs, fired a strikeout to end the inning.

Putting the game away for good in the fifth, Team USA plated eight runs to extend the lead to 18. A leadoff single and a walk to Kelsey Stewart (Wichita, Kan.) put two on with one out until Moultrie brought in a run with a single up the middle. Nickles loaded the bases with a single and Mulipola drove in another run with a single before Taylor Edwards (Murrieta, Calif.) cleared the bases on the first pitch thrown to her with a grand slam – her second home run of the tour. The offense didn’t stop, however, as Janie Reed (Placentia, Calif.) singled and Flippen sent out the third, and final, home run of the game with a shot over the centerfield wall.

A hit batter was all the offense Liberty could muster in their final at-bat as Carda took care of the final three outs with strikeouts to bring the game to a close with Team USA earning the 18-0 (five innings) win.

Six batters for the U.S. had a multi-hit game with Aguilar leading the way with four hits. Edwards collected four RBI while Moultrie and Reed finished with three runs driven in each. Osterman recorded five strikeouts in three innings in the circle while Carda followed with four in the final two frames.

Team USA will close out the Florida leg of the “Stand Beside Her” tour, presented by MLB on Sunday, February 16 with a 10 a.m. ET contest against No. 16 Oklahoma State and a 12 p.m. ET game against No. 1 Washington as part of ESPN Events’ St. Pete Clearwater Elite Invitational. Both contests will be streamed on ESPN3 and through the ESPN App.

Fans at home can follow along with the action at USASoftball.com.