OXFORD, Ala. – Team USA got off to a solid start in Oxford with a 4-0 win over world-ranked No. 8 Australia before falling to No. 2 Japan in a 7-1 contest. Totaling 13 hits on the day, the U.S. Women’s National Team (WNT) was led by a 4-for-6 performance from Janae Jefferson followed by two hits from Amanda Lorenz and a home run off the bat of Hannah Flippen. The U.S. pitching staff of Monica Abbott, Megan Faraimo and Ally Carda dominated in the circle against Australia, combining for the no-hit win with Abbott racking up an impressive seven strikeouts through three innings.
The Red, White and Blue will round out the series of exhibition contests tomorrow at 4:30 p.m. CT against the USSSA Pride before heading to Birmingham, Ala. where the squad will begin its 2022 World Games campaign on Saturday, July 9. For more information on the 2022 World Games, visit USASoftball.com.
USA 4, Australia 0
Taking on the Aussie Spirit for the second time in 24 hours, the No. 1 vs No. 8 rematch got off to a slow start for both teams as a pitcher’s duel dominated the first two innings of play. Abbott got the start in the circle for the U.S. and quickly tallied seven strikeouts through three innings before Jefferson broke the silence with the first hit of the game in the bottom of the third. Haylie McCleney followed with a single to left field in hopes to start a two-out rally for the Eagles, but a groundout would end the inning.
Faraimo entered the circle for Team USA in the top of the fourth, taking care of business with three quick outs as the U.S. returned to offense where Charla Echols led off with a walk to give the U.S. a baserunner in the bottom of the frame. Fighting through an eight-pitch at-bat, Flippen sent a two-run home run over the left field fence to put Team USA on the board with a 2-0 lead.
Another 1-2-3 inning from Faraimo brought the Eagles back to the plate as back-to-back singles from Bubba Nickles and Jefferson put two on for the Red, White and Blue. A fielder’s choice at third would record the first out of the inning, but a clutch line drive from Lorenz followed by a passed ball at home plate would score two more runs for the U.S.
With a 4-0 lead entering the sixth inning, Carda took over pitching duties and retired the first six batters she faced through the last two innings of the game to claim the 4-0 U.S. victory over Australia.
USA 1, Japan 7
Starting the second contest of the night in Oxford, University of Alabama ace Montana Fouts came out firing with a three-up, three-down inning to keep Japan off the bases. A hit-by-pitch to Jefferson to lead off the bottom of the frame would give the U.S. an early baserunner, but three consecutive outs would end the inning.
Japan got on the board in the top of the second with a pair of singles and a double to score one before a wild pitch would add another run to the lead. Trailing 2-0 in the bottom of the second, the Eagles put two runners on via a hit-by-pitch to Baylee Klingler and a single from Echols, but a fly out would leave them stranded.
With Kelly Maxwell in to pitch in the top of the third, Japan managed to tack on two more to its lead after a home run, a hit-by-pitch and a pair of singles increased the damage to 5-0. Answering back in the bottom of the frame, Jefferson stayed hot with a leadoff double to center field while Taylor Pleasants followed with a line drive through the infield to plate Jefferson and bring the U.S. within four.
Both sides remained quiet through the next three innings of play as Maxwell racked up three strikeouts and Jailyn Ford entered the circle in the top of the sixth, retiring the first three batters she faced. Japan managed a leadoff single in the seventh inning followed by a two-run home run to extend its lead, 7-0, before the U.S. recorded three outs and returned to the plate for a final chance at a comeback.
A leadoff single from Lorenz would light a spark as Dejah Mulipola followed with a one-out base hit to center field to put two on for the Eagles. With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Jefferson came through with an infield single to load the bases for the Red, White and Blue, but the U.S. was unable to muster any runs as a strikeout ended the game with Team USA falling 7-1.
Putting up another 2-3 performance at the plate, Jefferson scored the only U.S. run of the game as Echols, Klingler, Lorenz, Mulipola and Pleasants contributed with one hit apiece. Maxwell tallied five strikeouts in the circle followed by Fouts with two and Ford with one in the seven-inning affair.
The competition continues tomorrow, July 6, with a matchup between Australia and the USSSA Pride at 2 p.m. CT before the U.S. WNT rounds out the action at Choccolocco Park with a 4:30 p.m. CT contest against the Pride. Free live streaming and stats will be available on USASoftball.com.