CARACAS, Venezuela – The USA Softball Women’s National Team faced its most storied World Championships opponent Australia and like the other 14 times, the victory was on the side of the United States as they defeated Australia 9-2 in five innings at the ISF Women’s Softball World Championship in Caracas, Venezuela. The United States is now 15-5 over Australia and is 5-0 in World Championship play.
“Australia has always been a tough opponent and they are always a big game. Cat (Osterman) came out strong, not allowing anyone to reach and our offense set the tone early. We scored the first inning and every inning after. The offense gave our defense some cushion,” said Head Coach Jay Miller (Starkville, Miss.) Alissa (Haber) came through clutch in several big situations. This is a big win for us and we still have two more games until medal rounds so the next team on our mind is Dominican Republic.”
Australia saw Cat Osterman (Houston, Texas) two times in the 2006 World Championships for two losses and it was Osterman who again would earn that start in the circle.
Caitlin Lowe (Tustin, Calif.), hitting second in the lineup, singled and scored off the first double of the inning by Alissa Haber (Newark, Calif.). Andrea Duran (Selma, Calif.) reached on an error by left fielder Clare Warwick, advancing to second with Haber scoring on the play. A double by Jessica Mendoza (Camarillo, Calif.) accounted for the final run of the inning and an early 3-0 U.S. lead.
Starting pitcher Smethurst only completed one inning before Karina Cannon entered the game. With two outs in the second and bases loaded, Haber unleashed a two-run double to right field to score Lowe and Natasha Watley (Irvine, Calif.). The other runner on base, Tammy Williams (Osceola, Mo.), was called out at home plate for the third out but two runs were lit up on the board as the Red, White and Blue took a 5-0 lead.
Jennie Finch (La Mirada, Calif.) got her first hit of the 2010 World Championship in the bottom of the third and it was a big one, a two-run homerun to left field, the first home run of the games for Team USA.
Australian leadoff batter Brenda DeBlaes reached in the top of the fourth off a walk, advancing to second off a sac by teammate Kylie Cronk. Stacey Porter erased any chance of a no-hitter with a double to left field that scored DeBlaes, ending the shutout. Tracey Mosley kept the Aussies in the inning with a long single to score Porter. Two strikeouts silenced the bats with Australia taking a 7-2 lead into the fifth.
“We got in a groove early on and confused the pitchers. I was working really well in the strike zone. I think we made some adjustments too early that we didn’t need to make. They made their own adjustments and got some hits. I wasn’t worried because it was the fourth inning and there was a lot of softball left.”
Haber came through again in the bottom of the fourth with an RBI single for an 8-2 U.S. advantage. Haber led the team on the day going 3-for-3 with four RBI and one run scored.
“I was seeing the ball really well so I was very relaxed at the plate. I thought I would be more nervous playing such a great team like Australia but I really wasn’t. I think it has to do with the amount of talent on our team. There are great hitters in front of you and great hitters behind you. It’s nice knowing that if you can’t come through, someone else will. We all have each other’s backs and that really helps with my confidence at the plate.”
The game-ending run came in the bottom of the fifth when Watley hit a triple to right field, scoring Charters on the play. Watley was 2-for-3 on the day with two runs scored, one RBI and a walk. Osterman finished the game with 10 strikeouts and two earned runs for her second win of the World Championships and seventh career win.
With two teams left on the schedule, the United States will face Dominican Republic at 2:30 p.m./CT. This will mark the first time the United States has faced the Dominican Republic in the World Championships. Continue to check out weww.usasoftball.com for the most up-to-date information.