|FINAL FOUR SET FOR YOUTH CUP’S LAST DAY
(Note: scores throughout the article are linked to pop up the boxscore from that game)
The last two games of the Easton Foundation Youth World Cup at the International Softball Federation world headquarters in Plant City, Florida, are on tap tomorrow following four that took place today. The tournament began last Thursday with 22 teams from eight different countries participating, and now it’s down to the Oviedo (FL) Blaze taking on Puerto Rico at 5pm Wednesday in the bronze medal game followed by the undefeated South Florida Mini Bulls against Brazil in the gold medal game at 7pm, both in Plant City Stadium.
Today began with Puerto Rico needing an extra inning to get past Ontario (Canada) Black, 6-5. The runner placed on second base to start the top of the eighth under the international tiebreaker rule, Dayanira Diaz, advanced to third on a Mary Ann Rodriguez sacrifice bunt, and then scored on a wild pitch. Ontario Black was unable to convert their runner in the bottom half of the inning, and Puerto Rico advanced to face Brazil a few hours later.
The game went back and forth as Puerto Rico took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning before Ontario tied it up in the bottom of the second. A half inning later Puerto Rico went back up by one, only to see Ontario tie it up in the bottom of the fourth. Both teams scored twice in the sixth inning for the 5-5 tie that wouldn’t be resolved until the eighth.
Miranda Castiglione and Riley Carter each went 3-for-3 at the plate for Ontario, which ended the tournament with a 5-3 won-lost record.
Next up came a game in the domestic bracket that saw the Oviedo (FL) Blaze blank the Northwest Elite (Oregon), 3-0. The Blaze were actually outhit, 6-3, but two errors on the same play allowed Raven Hartsfield to score in the bottom of the third for all the offense that Oviedo would need. Two innings later they added two more runs on a two-out triple by Aleshia Ocasio.
Northwest Elite had their chances but finished each of the sixth and seventh innings with two runners left on base.
Winning pitcher Haley Wiseman went six-and-two-thirds innings, striking out three, while Ashley Thompson took the loss despite a six-inning three hitter with ten strikeouts, as Northwest was eliminated from the tournament.
Puerto Rico’s five-game winning streak came to an end when they fell, 7-0, to Brazil. Puerto Rico was done in by four errors and the one-hit pitching of Raquelli H. Bianco, who went five-and-two-thirds innings with three strikeouts and just one walk. Offensively, Brazil got a 2-for-3 performance from Gabriela dos Santos and two RBI each from Leticia Matsuoka and Gabriela Kuroda.
Brazil’s fifth straight win seemed within their grasp after they scored two runs in the top of the first inning and not only held Puerto Rico hitless after a first inning Mary Ann Rodriguez single, but came through with another pair of runs in the top of the third and then again in the fourth, before registering the final tally in the top of the sixth.
Milena Calixto picked up the save while Nadina Sola was the losing pitcher, giving up six runs (two earned) on four hits in three-and-two-thirds innings.
South Florida kept their overall Youth World Cup record perfect (8-0) thanks to a 7-0 win tonight over the Oviedo (FL) Blaze. The game was only 1-0 after five innings before the Mini Bulls broke out with six runs in the top of the sixth, including a two-run home run by winning pitcher Erica Nunn. South Florida sent ten batters to the plate that inning and three players finished the game with two hits each.
Nunn was solid in the circle once again, limiting Oviedo to just four hits over six innings while striking out 13 and walking none. She had entered today’s action as the Bulls leading hitter (.579 batting average) and had a 0.37 earned run average in 19 innings pitched with 37 strikeouts.
Aleshia Ocasio was the losing pitcher, going five-and-two-thirds innings with six runs against (five earned), giving up eight hits, walking two, and striking out three.