CLEARWATER, Fla. –– Taking the field for the first time since the postponement of the 2020 Stand Beside Her tour, presented by Major League Baseball (MLB), the world-ranked No. 1 U.S. Women’s National Team (WNT) posted a 4-2 victory over No. 5 Mexico in game one of the three-game series held at Eddie C. Moore Softball Complex in Clearwater, Fla.
Team USA’s offense combined for seven hits in their 2021 debut, with Kelsey Stewart (Wichita, Kan.) and Janie Reed (Placentia, Calif.) leading the way with two hits apiece followed by Amanda Chidester (Allen Park, Mich.), Taylor Edwards (Murrieta, Calif.) and Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) who each tallied one hit. Keilani Ricketts (San Jose, Calif.) got the start in the circle for the U.S., leaving the Mexico offense scoreless through three innings. Also contributing for the U.S. pitching staff was Randi Rupp (Mont Belvieu,TX), a recently added training player for the “Stand Beside Her” tour and Ally Carda (Elk Grove, Calif.).
After a scoreless first inning from both squads, Team USA took the lead in the bottom of the second following a pair of singles from Edwards and Moultrie, which were brought around to score on base hits from Stewart and Reed to give the U.S. a two-run edge. A walk and a single for Team Mexico placed two runners on base with one out in the top of the third, but a fly out to Moultrie and Ali Aguilar (Orangevale, Calif.) kept Mexico off the board for another inning. Going yard for Team USA in the bottom of the third frame was Chidester, improving the U.S. lead to 3-0 through three innings of play. Team Mexico’s offense would break the silence in the top of the fourth after a hit-by-pitch and a pair of singles would score their first run of the game to cut Team USA’s lead, 3-1.
Entering the circle for the WNT in the top of the fifth was Rupp, retiring the first three batters she faced on a pair of fly outs and a ground ball. A quiet fifth inning from the U.S. offense would bring Team Mexico back to the plate in the top of the sixth, stringing together a pair of two-out singles before Carda took over pitching duties to end the inning with a strikeout. Team USA added to their lead in the bottom of the sixth following a one out walk from Stewart to advance Moultrie to second, who reached base on a fielder’s choice earlier in the inning. Reed followed suite with a single to load the bases for Haylie McCleney (Morris, Ala.) who drew the walk to plate Moultrie.
Carda and the U.S. defense entered the top of the seventh with a three-run lead, which was cut to two after a two-out solo home run from Team Mexico. The game looked to be interesting after a walk and a single put the tying run on first base, but a strikeout from Carda would end the game with Team USA claiming the 4-2 win.
The U.S. WNT returns to action tomorrow at 11 am ET for game two against Mexico with game three set for 11 am ET on March 10. Fans will be allowed inside the ballpark for the remaining two games at a limited capacity due to COVID-19. A limited number of tickets are available and can be purchased on USASoftball.com. All fans in attendance will be required to wear a face covering while inside the ballpark. Free live stats and streaming will be available here.
The 18-player roster will be without Rachel Garcia, Dejah Mulipola and Bubba Nickles as well as assistant coaches Laura Berg, Howard Dobson, Tairia Flowers and Heather Tarr who all remain with their respective collegiate teams. Joining Head Coach Ken Eriksen to assist with coaching will be Laura Ricciardone, Kyla Holas and two-time Olympian Kelly Kretschman.
View the 2020-21 U.S. Olympic Softball Team roster
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