Danielle O’Toole one-hits Japan as Team USA remains undefeated at World Cup of Softball XII; USA JWNT move to 3-3 after splitting the day, including a run-rule victory
OKLAHOMA CITY – The USA Softball Women’s National Team pitching staff continued to shine at the World Cup of Softball XII as the U.S. allowed just one run to score through two contests. With the WNT earning an 8-1 (five innings) win over the USA Softball Junior Women’s National Team (JWNT), the WNT also shutout No. 1 Japan 5-0 after Danielle O’Toole (Upland, Calif.) pitched a one-hitter. The JWNT bats came alive in their first contest of the day as the team picked up their first run-rule victory of the World Cup of Softball XII after routing Philippines 14-7 (five innings) before dropping the 8-1 (five innings) decision to the WNT.
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USA JWNT 14, Philippines 7 (five innings)
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Sis Bates (Ceres, Calif.) was lights out at the plate in a 3-for-4 showing against Philippines in the USA Softball JWNT Day Three opener. The second baseman picked up five of the team’s 13 RBI as the U.S. soared to a 14-7 (five innings) win over Philippines.
Both sides started the game with two runs each in the first inning. A leadoff walk from U.S. starter Lexi Kilfoyl (Land O’Lakes, Fla.) and back-to-back singles quickly loaded the bases for Philippines. The U.S. defense had a couple rocky plays which resulted in two Philippines runs. A misplayed groundball single to left field resulted in the first run of the game before an error on a throw to home resulted in run number two. The U.S. was able to get out of the jam, however, quickly retiring the next batter for the third out. Bates got the U.S. rally going in the bottom of the first, doubling with one out and scoring on a home run from Baylee Klingler (Houston, Texas).
Philippines would respond with a three-run home run in the top of the second inning to take the lead, 5-2. With the U.S. trailing by three, Jessica Harper (Stevenson Ranch, Calif.) sent the ball out of the park on an 0-1 pitch, cutting that lead to just two runs. Two batters later, Elissa Brown (Eclectic, Ala.) doubled to plate Alyssa Rivera (Eagle Lake, Fla.) and cut the lead to one run. Two batters later, Bates hit the third double of the inning to bring Brown and Hannah Adams (Hoschton, Ga.) home and take the one-run lead.
Giselle Juarez (Glendale, Ariz.), who entered in relief for Kilfoyl in the second inning, was able to keep Philippines from scoring in the top of the third to bring the hot-hitting JWNT back to the plate. With one out, a walk to Harper and back-to-back singles from Mary Iakopo (Carson, Calif.) and Rivera loaded the bases for the Red, White and Blue. Brown and Adams continued the string of hits with two more singles, scoring Harper and Sydney Sherrill (Moore, Okla.), who entered to pinch run for Iakopo. An illegal pitch allowed another U.S. runner to cross the plate before a groundout from Bates allowed the speedy Brown to score. Bubba Nickles (Merced, Calif.) then cleared the bases with a home run, the third of the game for the U.S., to push the U.S. lead to 12-5.
Philippines scored their final two runs of the game in the top of the fourth inning, and from there on out it was USA-controlled game. Sis Bates picked up two more RBI in the bottom of the fourth with a single to right field. That would seal the fate for Philippines, who led off with a single before Juarez and the U.S. defense retired the next three with a strikeout and pair of groundouts.
In addition to Bates’ five RBI, Nickles, Klinger and Brown each recorded two RBI. In the circle, Juarez earned the win after pitching the final three and two-third innings with two strikeouts and two unearned runs. Kilfoyl struck out one batter, walked one and allowed four earned runs in her one and one-third innings of work.
USA 8, USA JWNT 1 (five innings)
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It was an all Stars and Stripes field as the USA JWNT and Team USA faced off in a U.S. vs U.S. showdown. While the JWNT took an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning, it would be the WNT who walked away with the 8-1 (five innings) win over their junior counterparts.
Striking first after Nickles and Klingler hit back-to-back singles, Alissa Dalton (Cypress, Texas) was hit by a pitch from WNT starter Jessica Moore (Sutter, Calif.) to load the bases. Moore allowed Nickles to score from third on a wild pitch to give the JWNT a one-run advantage. JWNT starter Natalie Lugo (West Covina, Calif.) issued a leadoff walk to Haylie McCleney (Morris, Ala.), but a strikeout and two fly outs kept the WNT off the board.
The WNT would not be scoreless for long, however, as they used timely hitting to plate three runs in the bottom of the second. Valerie Arioto (Pleasanton, Calif.) started the charge with a leadoff single, moved to second on a one out hit-batter in Delaney Spaulding (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) and came around to score on a double from Paige Halstead (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.). One batter later, Morgan Zerkle (Milton, W.Va.) singled to load the bases and a sac fly from McCleney brought Spaulding home. A single from Jazmyn Jackson (San Jose, Calif.) brought in the third run of the inning for the WNT to give them the 3-1 edge.
The JWNT would get two leadoff runners on in the top of the third after Bates reached on an error and Nickles singled, but the WNT defense recorded a double play. Despite a walk to Dalton, a groundout kept the JWNT from capitalizing. Spaulding recorded an RBI in the bottom of the third, plating Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) who had reached earlier in the inning on a walk. The JWNT continued to keep putting runners on base in the top of the fourth after Dejah Mulipola (Garden Grove, Calif.) reached on an error by the WNT defense, but a double play and popup resulted in a three-up, three-down outing.
Holding on to the 4-1 lead, the WNT drove in four more runs in the bottom of the fourth. McCleney, Jackson and Moultrie all reached safely to bring Amanda Chidester (Allen Park, Mich.) to the plate. With the bases loaded, Chidester doubled to bring in all three before scoring herself on an error by the JWNT defense.
Down to their final at-bat, the JWNT was retired in order by Kelly Barnhill (Marietta, Ga.), who entered in relief for Moore in the top of the fifth.
For the JWNT, Nickles had a 2-for-3 performance at the plate with one run scored. Lugo suffered the loss, allowing three runs while fanning one WNT batter in her two innings of work. For the rest of the JWNT pitching staff: Juarez walked two and allowed one run, Holly Azevedo (San Jose, Calif.) struck out one with two runs allowed and Kathryn Sandercock (McLean, Va.) struck out one.
“I’m really proud of the team for attacking right out of the gate that first inning,” said JWNT Head Coach Laura Berg. “To be able to put up a run against such a strong team like the WNT is an impressive accomplishment and speaks to the strength of this team. We gave them too many extra outs, and when you do that to the best team in the world that’s the end result you get.”
The USA JWNT will return for their final game of round-robin action against Japan tomorrow at 3:30 p.m. CT.
USA 5, Japan 0
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Team USA’s O’Toole one-hit the top-ranked team in the world to lead the U.S. to a 5-0, shutout win over Japan. It was an all-around great night for O’Toole, who in addition to a one-hitter performance in the circle also celebrated a birthday while representing the United States. It was the first time since Japan was shutout in the World Cup of Softball since 2010 when the U.S. handed their rivals the same result.
Team USA wasted no time in taking the lead as Ali Aguilar (Orangevale, Calif.) blasted a ball over the left field fence to plate two after Kelsey Stewart (Wichita, Kan.) had reached base one at-bat earlier after being hit by a pitch. A walk to Arioto and a single from Moultrie put another two on for the U.S. that inning with two outs, but a strike out brought O’Toole to the circle. O’Toole quickly made work of a strong Japan offense, getting a line out, strikeout and pop out for a one-two-three inning.
The score would stand pat until the top of the third inning when Team USA added another two runs to their lead. Stewart singled to start the inning, moved to second on a walk to Aguilar and made a sneaky steal to put runners on the corners. A walk to Arioto loaded the bases before Spaulding singled with a line drive to left field to allow the speedy Stewart and Aguilar to cross home safely.
Japan managed to push through their sole hit of the game in the bottom of the fifth after Minami Sato singled to lead off their at-bat. O’Toole and the U.S. defense held strong, however, recording two line outs and another pop out to keep the runner at first.
McCleney would add the fifth and final run of the game for the U.S. in the top of the sixth inning with a solo home run. With O’Toole retiring Japan in order in the bottom of the sixth and the U.S. going down in order in the top of the seventh, Japan trailed by five in their final at-bat. A leadoff walk to Yu Yamamoto put a runner on for Japan, but the U.S. defense continued their steadfast play to retire the next three batters with Team USA earning the 5-0 win.
O’Toole went the distance for the Red, White and Blue, pitching seven scoreless innings with only one hit allowed, three strikeouts, 14 first-pitch strikes and three walked batters. At the plate, Arioto was walked three times, Aguilar went 1-for-2 with a home run, two walks and two RBI, while Spaulding also recorded two RBI.
“Our pitching staff today threw to the strike zone today,” said Head Coach Ken Eriksen. “If you noticed over the past few years that we’ve played in this tournament we try to get our young athletes out there against these tough opponents to really break them in. I was excited that she gave our bullpen a break and pitched the full seven innings, but you have to have the good defense behind you. You can’t go anywhere at this level without a defense behind you.”
Up next for Team USA is a televised doubleheader. First up, Team USA takes on Puerto Rico at 1 p.m. CT for the PINK Game on ESPN2 followed by a 7 p.m. CT ESPN2 matchup against Australia.
Notable July 7 performances
Canada bounces back with a pair of wins
Canada picked up two important wins today to move them to 3-3 at the World Cup of Softball XII. With a 12-7 win over Mexico to start their day, they also earned a 6-3 victory over Puerto Rico.
Tickets are still available for the World Cup of Softball XII, and 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.