Tampa, Fla. –– Five 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 three-game series against University of South Florida (USF) with a 10-1 (five innings) victory. Competing in their sixth contest of the 2021 “Stand Beside Her” tour, presented by Major League Baseball (MLB), Team USA’s Ally Carda (Elk Grove, Calif.) got the start in the circle, fanning seven USF batters in three innings while Keilani Ricketts (San Jose, Calif.) struck out one batter in the final two innings of the game.
Team USA wasted no time at the plate as Haylie McCleney (Morris, Ala.) led off the top of the first inning with a single to right field followed by a walk from Ali Aguilar (Orangevale, Calif.) to put runners in scoring position. A single from Valerie Arioto (Pleasanton, Calif.) would bring McCleney around to score, putting the U.S. on top, 1-0, before two fly outs would send Team USA to defense. Carda quickly issued three-straight strikeouts in the bottom of the frame, bringing the U.S. offense back to the plate to tack on four runs to their lead. Aubree Munro (Brea, Calif.) started the inning off with a leadoff single to left field, while McCleney followed suit with a single of her own. Two fly outs would look to end the rally for the Red, White and Blue but back-to-back two-out home runs from Aguilar and Arioto would clear the bases and extend the U.S. lead, 5-0, before another fly out ended the inning.
USF had their first base runner of the game in the bottom of the second inning after a batter was walked, but two strikeouts from Carda and a ground out to Delaney Spaulding (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) kept the Bulls at bay for another inning. Team USA continued to get the leadoff batter on base in the top of the third when Carda drew a walk followed by a double from Munro. McCleney sent a ground ball to the second baseman to score Carda before Kelsey Stewart (Wichita, Kan.) singled to center field to plate Munro and put the U.S. ahead, 7-0. The offense didn’t stop there though, as Aguilar hit her second homer of the game to add two more runs to the board for Team USA.
A 1-2-3 inning for both squads kept the score steady in the third inning until the Bulls plated their first run of the game in the bottom of the fourth after an error put the leadoff runner on. Back-to-back ground balls from USF would advance the runner to third, followed by a single up the middle to cut the U.S. lead, 9-1. Team USA quickly gained back the run in the top of the fifth, after Aguilar tallied her sixth RBI of the game with a sacrifice fly to plate Reed who reached base on an error earlier in the inning. Ricketts, who entered the circle in the bottom of the fourth, retired the Bulls in order in the final inning of the game to claim the 10-1 victory for Team USA.
Recording two hits on the day was Aguilar, Arioto, McCleney, Munro and Stewart with Aguilar leading the U.S. offense courtesy of two long balls and six RBIs. Carda and Ricketts combined for eight strikeouts in the five-inning run-rule while limiting the Bulls to just one hit.
The U.S. Women’s National Team will return to action Tuesday, March 16 for a solo contest against the University of Florida as Gator greats, Michelle Moultrie, Aubree Munro and Kelsey Stewart will return to their alma mater for the second time following their storied collegiate careers. Previously welcomed back by Gator Nation last February, Team USA and the Gator alums faced off against Florida as part of the “Stand Beside Her” tour, where the Red, White and Blue posted a 5-3 victory.
Tickets for the U.S. WNT vs Florida matchup will be limited to 2021 Florida Softball season ticket holders due to COVID-19 restrictions, however the contest will be streamed through SEC Network + with live stats also available on USASoftball.com. Florida will communicate ticket information to 2021 Florida Softball season ticket holders.
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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