Team USA Run Rules Venezuela in Pan American Opener
GUADALAJARA, MEXICO - The USA Softball National team opened the 2011 Pan American Games in dominating fashion recording a 10-0 run-rule victory over Venezuela on Monday evening. Pitcher Jordan Taylor tossed in a no-hitter in the victory recording seven strikeouts while Jenae Leles and Molly Johnson both contributed strong plate performances with four RBI a piece.
"Jenae Leles locked it in tonight pretty good tonight," said head coach Ken Eriksen. "Her first swing the second inning gave a nice confidence boost and that was great for this team. I can't also say enough about Jordan Taylor keeping zeros on the board and giving us the opportunity to win the ballgame. We've got a long way to go and some base running things to clean up and short game as well but as long as they are communicating that makes me a happy guy."
Silenced in the first with two strikeouts and a flyout, veteran Leles took the first pitch of the second inning and completely launched the ball approximately 270 feet over the left center wall for a solo home run and a 1-0 lead. Valerie Arioto then drew a base on balls before M. Johnson roped a double to the left center gap pushing Arioto across for the 2-0 advantage.
"I was just seeing the ball as big as a beach ball tonight," said Leles. "It was definitely a good feeling to have tonight in the arena. I don't think I have ever hit a home run that far in my life. Never."
The U.S. added two security runs in the third inning thanks to another M. Johnson double to right field. The bases were loaded for Johnson after recent Missouri softball graduate Rhea Taylor reached on an infield single and stole second and Stacy May-Johnson and Arioto earned walks during the inning. Johnson connected on a high fly ball to right center that dropped with confusion and plated R. Taylor and May-Johnson for the 4-0 lead.
Leading off the fourth inning, Lauren Gibson sent a rocket to left field speeding to third base for a strong jump for the Red, White and Blue offense. A pitching change for Venezuela to Adriana Velazquez didn't startle the U.S. as Michelle Moultrie and R. Taylor earned walks to load the bases. A fielder's choice and line out quickly put two outs on the board, but Leles struck again clearing the bases for three RBI with a double to left center and a comfortable 7-0 lead.
M. Johnson did it again in the fourth making it 8-0 with her fourth RBI of the night. She connected on a single that scored pinch runner Kelly Grieve who was running for Leles. An Ashley Holcombe double to right center scored a ninth run for the visitors and pinch hitter Taylor Hoagland recorded the tenth and final run with an RBI single to score Johnson.
Venezuela saw its only runners reach base thanks to a base on balls and a catcher's interference call.
M. Johnson led all hitters going 3-for-3 while R. Taylor, May-Johnson and Arioto each scored on two occasions.
Up next the U.S. will come back to the Pan American Softball Stadium for doubleheader action on Tuesday with a 1 p.m. game against Dominican Republic and an 8 p.m. match-up against host country Mexico.