BARRANQUILLA, Colombia –– Kicking off the Super Round as the No. 1 seed in Group A, the USA Softball U-18 Women’s National Team (WNT) improved to 4-0 after an outstanding performance in the circle from Valerie Cagle (Yorktown, Va.) and clutch hitting from the U.S. offense sealed the 4-0 shutout win over Puerto Rico. Tonight’s win advanced Team USA to the Junior Pan American Games Final Round set to take place Dec. 2 at 7 p.m. ET.
Cagle went the distance in the circle, racking up an impressive 17 strikeouts while limiting the Puerto Rico offense to just two hits in seven innings. The U.S. offense extended its home run streak to four-straight games, with Kinsey Fiedler (Summit, Mo.) sending one out of the park today in addition to clutch hitting from Keely Williams (Cibolo, Texas), Violet Zavodnik (Murrieta, Calif.), Olivia Johnson (Pearland, Texas), Erin Coffel (Bremen, Ind.) and Cagle who each tallied one hit apiece.
Cagle came out firing in the top of the first, retiring the first three batters she faced with a strikeout to send the U.S. to the plate. Remaining consistent with early scoring for the third-straight game, Fiedler quickly gave Team USA a one-run edge after crushing a ball over the right field fence. Coffel would look to continue the offense with a double to right field, but a fly out and strikeout would leave her stranded. Continuing her dominance in the top of the second, Cagle added three more K’s to the column for a quick 1-2-3 inning while Puerto Rico returned the favor to the U.S. offense in the bottom of the frame.
The U.S. defense continued to make quick work of the Puerto Rico offense in the top of the third as Cagle fanned two more batters followed by a ground out to Fiedler to retire the side. The Eagles would look to get something started in the bottom of the inning with a leadoff single from Williams, but a ground out and a double play from the Puerto Rico defense would end the at-bat.
Puerto Rico gained their first base runner of the game in the top of the fourth but a strikeout and two flash-of-the-leather plays up the middle from Fiedler would leave the runner stranded. Back-to-back base hits from Cagle and Zavodnik in the bottom of the frame would set the stage for Maci Bergeron (Rayne, La.) who sent a sac-fly to right field to tack on another run and extend the U.S. lead, 2-0.
Puerto Rico would look to respond in the top of the fifth with a two-out double to left field, but Cagle fired back with a quick strikeout to end the inning. The Red, White and Blue would add to their lead in the bottom of the frame with a clutch two-out single from Fiedler to score Johnson who walked earlier in the inning. Three-straight walks to Coffel, Cagle and Zavodnik would allow another U.S. run to score, improving their lead to 4-0 through five innings. Puerto Rico would put another runner on in the top of the sixth with a one-out single, but Cagle retired the next two batters with a strikeout to keep them off the board.
A scoreless at-bat from Team USA in the bottom of the sixth sent the U.S. defense back to the field for the last three outs of the game, which featured three final strikeouts from Cagle to seal the 4-0 win for the Red, White and Blue.