Team USA Cruises Past Pan American Host Mexico
GUADALAJARA, MEXICO - In front of packed stadium, the USA Softball Women's National team earned its third victory of the 2011 Pan American Games over host country Mexico in a 7-0 decision. Scoring in four of the five innings, it was a team effort as six players inked hits in the contest with Christi Orgeron leading the way going 3-for-3 with a double, triple and walk-off home run to close the game.
"I had a good talk with Coach Eriksen before the game just about hitting," said Orgeron. "He told me just to stay calm and go out there and just hit. When you have excellent hitters hitting all around you it kind of takes the pressure off yourself to always have that big hit mindset. At any moment anybody on this team can have success and takes a little less pressure off you when you get up having approach."
Through three games played the U.S. has allowed no runs in 13 innings played and outscored its opponents 27-0. With a 3-0 record in pool play, the team moved its overall Pan American Games record to 81-3 since softball's debut in the games in 1979.
"We are just trying to keep taking care of the little things," said head coach Ken Eriksen. "We had some great bunts in the first inning tonight and had a lot of people on base. We are just trying to play good softball and execute, get the ball and play the basics of the game. Our pitching right now is giving us a great opportunity because when you are putting a lot of zeros on the board your hitters feel pretty comfortable. So all in all we are continuing to move in the right direction."
From the circle, pitcher Keilani Ricketts recorded the win allowing one hit with six strikeouts in four innings of work. Lefty Whitney Canion entered in the fifth inning for the USA and tallied two strikeouts in three batters faced.
The U.S. quickly loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the first inning and exploded for four runs.
Jenae Leles connected on a two RBI single to centerfield to put the first runs on the board scoring Rhea Taylor who reached on an infield single and Kelly Grieve who reached on an error. Pitcher Ricketts then helped her cause with an RBI ground out for run No. 3 plating Lauren Gibson who recorded a single. Orgeron then drove her first at bat of the Pan American Games to left field for a triple scoring Leles for a comfortable 4-0 lead.
With two outs, Taylor Hoagland scored the fifth U.S. run in the second inning on a fielding error from Mexican second baseman Diana Castillo. Hoagland reached on a base hit earlier in the inning and stole both second and third base before scoring.
The hometown crowd was brought to its feet in the top of the third inning when Ma. Luisa Hernandez contributed a one-out base hit to left center to jump start the Mexican team. But the arm of Ricketts held strong retiring the next two batters via the strikeout to close the half inning.
With one out in the third, Ricketts contributed a base hit on the score sheet to keep the offense alive before Orgeron put together a double to right field putting two runners in scoring position. Ashley Holcombe then blasted the ball to centerfield for a sacrifice flyout and the 6-0 cushion. Kaitlin Cochran scored on the play after entering as a pinch runner for Ricketts.
The seventh and final run for the home team came in dramatic fashion in the bottom of the fifth inning. With two outs, the hot bat of Orgeron sent a towering solo home run to right field for a walk-off run-rule 7-0 victory.
Former Missouri Tiger Rhea Taylor ended the contest going 2-for-3 and Leles added two RBI.
It's another double day in round-robin play for Team USA on Wednesday with a 1 p.m. match up against Cuba and a 4 p.m. game versus Puerto Rico.