Team USA Wins Two More with Help of Taylor & Thomas
BOWIE, MD - The USA Softball National and Junior National teams closed out the 2011 U.S. Tour on Friday evening in front of its largest crowd of 3,458. Game one saw the offense of the Women's National Team (WNT) explode again with an 11-0 victory while game two was a closer situation through four innings before the WNT sealed a 7-0 win over the JWNT.
This concluded the three-city, six-game tour between the USA teams where the WNT recorded a 6-0 record.
"The people in Tampa, Salem and right here in Bowie did a fantastic job bringing us in to be able to train together as a team," said WNT head coach Ken Eriksen. "It was great to really get some defensive functioning in, run some plays and be in live game situations. And our hitters really faced some good pitching. Overall this tour brought us together. It was about not only practice, but game situations and game speed to prepare for Canada next week."
Up next the WNT will take a five-day break before heading to Surrey, British Columbia Canada on Thursday, July 8 for the Canadian Open FastPitch International Championship which runs from July 9-17.
For the JWNT, they will depart in early December for South Africa to represent the United States in the ISF Junior Women's World Championship in Cape Town, South Africa December 6-17.
GAME 1: Women's National Team 11 - Junior Women's National Team 0
Putting runs on the board in the first four innings, the WNT recorded a strong 11-0 decision in game one of the doubleheader in Bowie. Starting pitcher Whitney Canion of Baylor charted the win with three complete allowing one hit and two walks.
From the plate, Valerie Arioto of California led the squad going 2-for-4 with three RBI.
"The girls did a great job of getting on base for me and made it easy," Arioto said when at the plate with bases loaded. "I just stayed relaxed and Coach Eriksen was helping me stay relaxed. And I guess it's a good thing they got on so I could get RBI. The team is getting along really well and these couple of practice games have us gelling really well," added Arioto.
The WNT capitalized on two errors by JWNT catcher Chelsea Goodacre to score the first run of the game in the bottom of the first. With one out, Mizzou's Rhea Taylor legged out an infield base hit before advancing to second on a stolen base and third on an errant throw from Goodacre. Two pitches later during a Megan Langenfeld of UCLA at bat, a passed ball got away from Goodacre and Taylor slid in home for the 1-0 lead.
The JWNT put runners in scoring position in the first and second innings thanks to a Hallie Wilson blooper single and a walk and stolen base from Kourtney Salvarola. However the pitching of Canion and WNT defense held off the runners leaving the JWNT emptied handed.
Christi Orgeron of University of Louisiana - Lousiville blasted a two-run home run deep to left field in the bottom of the second inning to give the WNT a 3-0 cushion. The dinger plated Stacey May-Johnson of Iowa reached on an infield single to shortstop.
The WNT brought their offense again in the third inning taking a solid 7-0 advantage with four runs scored on four hits. Langenfeld connected on an RBI single scoring Michelle Moultrie of Florida who reached on a single to centerfield. Arioto then sent a rocket to right center plating Rhea Taylor who recorded in an infield single and Kelly Grieve of Tennessee who was pinch running for Langenfeld. Nyree White then entered in relief for JWNT starting pitcher Dallas Escobedo who finished with 2.1 innings and six earned runs. A seventh run then came for the WNT courtesy of a sacrifice fly out from Molly Johnson of Kentucky seeing May-Johnson cross the plate. May-Johnson earlier reached on an intentional walk.
Right-handed pitcher Jordan Taylor of Michigan entered in the top of the fourth for the WNT giving Canion three shutout innings allowing just one hit.
The bats continued to be in full force for the WNT adding four more runs in the fourth for an 11-0 advantage. New pitcher Erin Gabriel came to the circle for the JWNT to start the inning replacing White. Local fan favorite Lauren Gibson of Tennessee started things off with a single followed by a Moultrie walk for two runners on and no outs. A Taylor Hoagland of Texas fielder's choice advanced the runners and Gibson later scored on a ground out from Grieve. May-Johnson then doubled sending in two more runs before the final run was scored on An Arioto single to left center.
Langenfeld completed the game from the circle for the WNT tossing the final two shutout innings allowing just two hits.
Rhea Taylor, May-Johnson, Arioto, and Orgeron all contributed two hits apiece in the victory while JWNT rightfielder Wilson led the team going 2-for-3.
GAME 2: Women's National Team 7 - Junior Women's National Team 0
Keilani Ricketts of Oklahoma was stellar in the circle charting the win going four almost perfect innings with five strikeouts and one runner on base due to an error. Ashley Holcombe of Alabama led all hitters going 2-for-3 with two RBI and one run scored.
"I thought we did a great job of keeping our energy up as this was game six against the Juniors," said Holcombe. "I think our pitching staff did really well. Keilani the last two outings was awesome with no hits, no runs and just one base runner. She is doing a great job at stepping up for us."
Scoreless through the first, the WNT jumped ahead 2-0 in game two thanks to the swing of starting catcher Holcombe who blasted a two-run home run, her second of the tour. Hoagland scored on the dinger after she bolted a line drive base hit earlier in the inning.
With strong defensive play and the pitching of Ricketts for WNT and starter Lauren Haeger for the JWNT the third and fourth innings were silent for both teams.
Gibson got her hometown fans quickly to their feet in the top of the fifth with solo home run to centerfield for a 3-0 WNT lead.
Mizzou's Chelsea Thomas started in relief for the WNT in the bottom of fifth as the JWNT saw its first runner in scoring position. Kylee Lahners laced a base hit and then advanced to third on back-to-back sacrifice bunts from Cheyenne Cordes and Goodacre. A ground out from Amber Freeman however, halted their momentum to head to the sixth.
White began the top of the sixth for the JWNT from the circle as a series of fielding miscues from the JWNT defense resulted in two unearned runs for a 5-0 difference. A RBI single from Holcombe and a two RBI base hit from Michelle Moultrie of Florida added two more for the eventual 7-0 win.