Team USA earns No. 1 seed to setup rematch against Japan in World Cup of Softball Championship Game; USA JWNT to take on Puerto Rico after earning No. 5 overall seed
OKLAHOMA CITY – The field has been set for Championship Sunday at the World Cup of Softball XII in Oklahoma City after the final day of round-robin action came to a conclusion. The USA Softball Women’s National Team (WNT) claimed two victories on the day to earn the No. 1 overall seed while the USA Softball Junior Women’s National Team laid stake on the No. 5 seed after suffering a 5-0 loss to No. 2 seed Japan.
“This team is pretty focused on the task at hand,” said Head Coach Ken Eriksen. “We’re getting two strike or two out hits which shows we aren’t giving up. It’s like the team is putting their foot in the door and not letting anyone close it until they say it’s going to close.”
Click here for box scores for all World Cup of Softball XII games
Championship Sunday Schedule
12 p.m. CT – USA vs Japan – OGE Energy Field – ESPN
12 p.m. CT – Philippines vs Mexico – INTEGRIS Field
2:30 p.m. CT – Canada vs Australia – OGE Energy Field
2:30 p.m. CT – USA JWNT vs Puerto Rico – INTEGRIS Field
USA 8, Puerto Rico 2
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It was a perfect day at the plate for Team USA’s Haylie McCleney (Morris, Ala.) as the speedy lefty drove in four runs in a 4-for-4 outing in the batter’s box. Despite the U.S. bats getting off to a slow start, the team exploded for five runs in the bottom of the sixth in what would become an 8-2 win over Puerto Rico in the 10th Annual PINK Game. Three U.S. pitchers combined for the win while McCleney, Valerie Arioto (Pleasanton, Calif.) and Kelsey Stewart (Wichita, Kan.) drove in all of the runs for the Red, White and Blue.
Puerto Rico jumped to an early 1-0 lead over the U.S. in the top of the first. A one out single put Elicia D’Orazio on base and she reached second after beating the throw when Karla Claudio grounded into a fielder’s choice. After stealing third, D’Orazio crossed home after a single to center field by Morganne Flores. This prompted a pitching change for the U.S. as Kelly Barnhill (Marietta, Ga.) entered in relief for starter Delanie Gourley (Lakeside, Calif.). After a groundout to first baseman Ally Carda (Elk Grove, Calif.) and a pick off by Aubree Munro (Brea, Calif.), the U.S. looked to strike back.
Despite the U.S. loading the bases after McCleney walked, Hannah Flippen (Bonita, Calif.) was hit by pitch and Ali Aguilar walked, the Red, White and Blue were unable to score after a pair of strikeouts and a caught line drive. Barnhill retired Puerto Rico in order in the top of the second to bring the U.S. back to the plate. Team USA took the lead in the bottom of the second after Kasey Cooper (Dothan, Ala.) was issued a leadoff walk and was able to score on a misplayed ball at the plate after Morgan Zerkle (Milton, W.Va.) doubled. McCleney then singled on a line drive to left field to bring Zerkle home and give the U.S. the 2-1 edge.
Both sides were kept from scoring until the top of the fourth when Puerto Rico tied up the game with a leadoff solo home run from Claudio. The score stood pat until the bottom of the fifth when another RBI single from McCleney brought Delaney Spaulding (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) home after she had reached on a single and moved into scoring position on a walk to Zerkle making it a 3-2 U.S. lead.
The floodgates would open in the bottom of the sixth as the U.S. bats came alive. Singles from Ali Aguilar (Orangevale, Calif.), Janie Takeda (Placentia, Calif.) and Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) loaded the bases for Arioto, who hit a sac fly to right field. Spaulding was then hit by a pitch to load the bases again and Stewart drove a ball to left field to bring the speedy Takeda and Moultrie home for the fifth and sixth runs of the game for Team USA. Another McCleney RBI single drove in another two runs to give the U.S. the 8-2 edge.
Jessica Moore (Sutter, Calif.), who had entered in relief in the top of the fifth, issued two looking strikeouts and a popout to Spaulding at short to earn the win for the Red, White and Blue. Moore finished with two strikeouts in the win, allowing just one hit in her two and one-third innings of work. Gourley issued two hits and one run while Barnhill fanned five with three hits and one run allowed in four and one-third innings.
With the win over Puerto Rico, Team USA earned the No. 1 overall seed at the World Cup of Softball and are set for a rematch against No. 2 seed Japan. The rivalry will be reignited tomorrow at 12 p.m. CT live on ESPN.
USA JWNT 0, Japan 5
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The USA Softball JWNT suffered a 5-0 loss to Japan in their final round-robin contest at the World Cup of Softball XII. It marked the first time the JWNT did not score a run against their opponents as the offense was limited to just two hits by an experienced Japanese pitching staff.
Kathryn Sandercock (McLean, Va.) and the JWNT defense came out strong in the top of the first inning, retiring Japan in order with a pair of groundouts and a fly out to centerfield. Japan returned the favor in the bottom of the frame before plating a run in the top of the second off an error. The U.S. would put two runners on base in the bottom of the third after Elissa Brown (Eclectic, Ala.) singled with one out and Hannah Adams (Hoschton, Ga.) was hit by a pitch, but the JWNT was unable to capitalize and the score stood put at 1-0, Japan.
A run in the top of the fourth had the U.S. down by two runs and both sides were silenced at the plate until Japan added another three to their lead. That score would stand, with the JWNT suffering the 5-0 loss.
Sandercock went the full seven innings for the JWNT, striking out two with one walk and seven hits. Brown and Baylee Klingler (Houston, Texas) recorded the two hits for the JWNT.
The USA JWNT earned the No. 5 overall seed at the World Cup of Softball after finishing round-robin play with a 3-4 record.
USA 10, Australia 1
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Mother nature made her presence known at the World Cup of Softball XII, but despite the wind and rain, the U.S. cruised to a 10-1 win over Australia.
The Eagles wasted no time at the plate, pushing across two runs in the top of the first before a weather delay halted play. Aguilar walked to start off the game, but a pair of strikeouts kept her at first. She would not stay there long, as Amanda Chidester (Allen Park, Mich.) doubled on a line drive to the outfield to give Aguilar enough time to leg it out to home. Arioto then hit a hard ground ball to left field to plate Spaulding, who entered as a courtesy runner for Chidester, giving the U.S. the 2-0 edge. U.S. starter Carda was able to issue a strikeout in her first batter faced before inclement weather arrived and caused a one hour and twenty minute weather delay.
Once action resumed, Leigh Godfrey singled and moved to second on a walk to Taylah Tsitsikronis. With two outs, Clare Warwick singled to right field and Moultrie fired the ball to Chidester behind the dish to prevent the run from scoring. Spaulding added to Team USA’s lead in the top of the second with an RBI single with two outs. Jazmyn Jackson (San Jose, Calif.) singled, moved to second on a single from Stewart and used her speed to score from second after Spaulding drove the ball up the middle.
A wild pitch allowed the fourth U.S. run of the game to score in the top of the fifth inning. Spaulding led off the inning with a double, a walk to Chidester put two on and a sac bunt from Arioto moved both runners into scoring position. The bases would become loaded with a walk to Moultrie and a wild pitch got past the Aussie catcher to score run number four for the U.S.
Australia singled in the bottom of the fifth which prompted a pitching change for Team USA as Danielle O’Toole (Upland, Calif.) entered in relief for Carda. A sac bunt, groundout and strikeout from O’Toole kept Australia off the scoreboard.
Three more runs in the top of the sixth got the U.S. a seven-run edge over Australia. A double from Jackson put the leadoff runner on and she moved to third on a sac bunt from Aguilar. Stewart drove a ground ball up the middle to plate Jackson. Another single from Spaulding put two on for Chidester, who also drove a ground ball to center to drive in another two runs.
Trailing by seven, Stacey Porter kept the game from ending in a run-rule with a first pitch home run to put the Aussies on the board. The U.S. tacked on three more runs in the top of the seventh when Spaulding sent a three-run shot over the center field fence, and O’Toole was able to record three strikeouts to keep the U.S. undefeated in round-robin play.
“I was really happy with the way we came out on top in the first inning against Australia tonight,” said Head Coach Ken Eriksen. “It was a grind getting through pool play because these teams continue to get better. We know that we have a formidable opponent tomorrow.”
Tickets for Championship Sunday at the World Cup of Softball XII can be purchased outside the USA Softball Hall of Fame Complex at the Ticket Booth. For complete coverage of the World Cup of Softball XII including bios, rosters, live stats, streaming and results log on to USASoftball.com.