LIMA, Peru –– The U-18 Women’s National Team (WNT) closed out Opening Round at the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-18 Women’s Softball World Cup with a 9-2 (six-innings) run-rule over No. 6 Chinese Taipei. Clinching its spot as the home team in tomorrow’s gold medal matchup, the U.S. overcame a two-run deficit to remain undefeated at the U-18 World Cup en route to its fourth-straight World Championship finale.
Team USA will meet Chinese Taipei in the World Championship Final tomorrow at 4 p.m. ET for a rematch as the final two teams atop the leaderboard following the conclusion of the 28-game round-robin during Opening Round.
Chinese Taipei scored its only two runs of the game in the top of the first after leading off the inning with back-to-back singles and a walk to quickly load the bases with no outs. Another single from the Chinese Taipei offense would put them on top, 2-0, but Raelin Chaffin (Bossier City, La.) – who got the start in the circle for the U.S. – fired back with two strikeouts and a fly out to end the at-bat. The Eagles looked to answer back in the bottom of the frame after singles from Kinsey Fiedler (Lee’s Summit, Mo.) and Olivia Johnson (Pearland, Texas) put runners on, but a fly out would leave them stranded.
The offense continued for Chinese Taipei in the top of the second as the leadoff batter sent a line drive to centerfield, but two nice defensive plays up-the-middle and a pop out to Rylee Holtorf (Peoria, Ariz.) would keep them at bay. The U.S. offense came alive in the bottom of the inning with Maci Bergeron (Rayne, La.) sending a line drive up-the-middle to lead things off followed by a perfectly executed sac-bunt from Megan Grant (San Bruno, Calif.) to advance Bergeron 60-feet. A fielding miscue by the Chinese Taipei centerfielder would put Holtorf on first before Avery Hodge (Richmond, Texas) beat out a ground ball to load the bases. A big swing from Fiedler would send a fly ball to the centerfield fence to plate two and even the score 2-2 before a clutch hit from Erin Coffel (Bremen, Ind.) tacked on another run to give the U.S. a one-run edge.
The U.S. added another run in the bottom of the third with the bat and speed of Violet Zavodnik (Murrieta, Calif.) who sent a line drive to the left field fence for a leadoff triple before speeding home on a passed ball to put the Eagles on top, 4-2. Singles from Bergeron and Hodge would look to continue the at-bat but a nice grab by the Chinese Taipei third baseman ended the rally.
A 1-2-3 inning from the U.S. defense would send them back to the plate to tack on another run to their lead in the bottom of the fourth. Fiedler led off the inning with a hit-by-pitch followed by a walk to Coffel and a sac-bunt from Johnson to put runners on second and third for Bergeron who sent a two-out single through the right side to extend Team USA’s lead, 5-2.
Both sides were retired in order through the fifth before a four-run sixth inning from the Eagles forced the run-rule. A walk to Fiedler and a hit-by-pitch from Coffel would once again set the stage for a perfectly placed sac-bunt from Johnson followed by a single from Zavodnik to plate one. A deep fly ball that was dropped by the left fielder would allow Bergeron to reach base while collecting one RBI to put Team USA ahead, 7-2. The offense continued after a walk to Grant loaded the bases for Holtorf who sent a single up-the-middle to tack on another run followed by a hard-hit ground ball from Hodge to plate the final run of the game, sealing the 9-2 run-rule victory for the Red, White and Blue.
Today’s win concluded the Opening Round of the WBSC U-18 Women’s Softball World Cup with Team USA advancing to the gold medal game tomorrow at 4 p.m. ET for a rematch against Chinese Taipei. The U.S. will look to earn its fourth-consecutive WBSC World Championship title, having won the previous three World Championships in 2015, 2017 and 2019. Live stats will be available through USASoftball.com while the WBSC has provided live streaming, which can be accessed by clicking here.
Due to the postponement of the WBSC U-18World Cup, which was originally scheduled to take place in August 2020, the WBSC extended the age eligibility to allow athletes who were eligible for the 2020 event with the opportunity to participate in the rescheduled event this year. With the extended age eligibility, the 2021 USA Softball U-18 Women’s National Team roster includes one member of the 2019 U-17 Pan American Gold Medal team, six current NCAA Division I student-athletes and 12 committed and/or signed NCAA Division I student athletes – four of which also advanced to the JWNT Selection Trials through the USA Softball High Performance Program (HPP). Click here to view the 2021 USA Softball U-18 Women's National Team roster.