July 21, 2012 (Whitehorse, YT) – It took extra innings, but the USA was able to book their spot in the gold medal final, defeating Japan 3-1 at the ISF Women’s World Championship Saturday.
USA Advances to Gold Medal Final; Australia to Play Japan
Yukiko Ueno pitched all eight innings for Japan, while the USA used Jackie Traina, Chelsea Thomas and Keilani Ricketts. USA got on the board first, when Lauren Gibson socked her first home run of the playoffs – fourth of the tournament – in her first at bat.
Traina retired the Japanese side for two straight innings, but got in some trouble in the 3rd when she had some high pitches, one hitting a batter. Thomas came on in relief, but Japan still managed to tie it up when Misa Okubo scored on a single by Yukiyo Mine.
After that, USA shut the door. Thomas pitched over four solid innings, and Ricketts came on to strike out Yamada Eri in the bottom of the 7th, sending the game to extra innings tied 1-1.
In the top of the 8th, Molly Johnson scored for USA on a double from Christie Orgeron. Gibson then sent Orgeron home with a double of her own, making it 3-1 for the Americans. Japan couldn’t get anything going against Ricketts in the bottom of the 8th, hitting three straight fly-outs to give USA the victory.
The Americans move straight to tomorrow’s final at 4pm PT, while Japan will face Australia at 1pm PT, for the right to join the USA.
Australia made it to the final round by upsetting Canada 3-1 on their home soil. Stacey Porter had a huge game for the Aussies, including a leadoff home run to give them a 1-0 lead in the 1st.
Stacey McManus added to the lead in the 2nd, thanks to a single from Leigh Godfrey and an overthrow by Canada. It was 2-0 after 2.
Canadian pitcher Jenna Caira replaced Danielle Lawrie in the 3rd, hoping to spark her team. The Canadians didn’t get anything going in the third, but in the 4th it was Joey Lye who rose to the challenge. Lye hit a triple to start the inning, and then scored on a sacrifice fly from Jennifer Yee. It was 2-1 Australia after 4.
Caira was able to keep the Aussies off the board until the top of the 7th, when Porter went deep for the second time in the game, making it 3-1. That was all the offence Australia needed, as they hung on for the win.
Earlier in the day, Australia edged China 5-4 in a nail biter that went to extra innings. The two teams were tied 3-3 after regulation and then Li Huan scored for China in the top of the 8th, giving them a 4-3 lead.
However, Godfrey and Claire Warwick responded for the Aussies, crossing the plate after a single and an error from China.
Jodie Bowering hit a home run for Australia earlier in the game, while Brenda De Blaes and Melinda Weaver also had RBIs.
Canada beat Netherlands 4-0 in the first game of the afternoon, thanks to solid pitching by Caira and Lawrie. Yee, Sheena Lawrick and Caitlin Lever all collected RBIs for Canada while Caira allowed just three hits in 5 innings.
All playoff games are available live via webstream: www.sportscanada.tv/worldfastpitch2012
Check out the official Flickr site for pictures of all the action: http://www.flickr.com/photos/2012-world-fastpitch-championship