USA Splits with Canada, Japan
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - The USA Women's National Softball Team went 1-1 in their doubleheader on Saturday, moving their record to 3-1 in the tournament while keeping pace with Japan and Canada in the standings. The U.S. fell by a 4-3 final in their afternoon game against the Canadian National Team before bouncing back with an 8-4 victory against Japan.
In the loss to Canada, Team USA matched the Canadians with six hits and put the tying run at third base with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, but they ultimately came up short. Mizzou's Chelsea Thomas took the loss after giving up three runs in three innings. She struck out a pair but also walked two batters in the start.
The Americans avenged three losses to Team Japan during the Canadian Open Fastpitch Invitational, beating the Japanese for just the second time in five contests this summer.
Each team scored a run in the first to keep things evened up after a full inning of play. For the U.S., Michelle Moultrie doubled to start the game and would move up to third on a sacrifice bunt by Rhea Taylor. Moultrie came in to score on another sacrifice bunt, this one from Stacy May-Johnson. Japan tied it upon a wild pitch in the bottom half, making it 1-1. A two-base error to start bottom of the second put another Japanese runner on, and she would eventually put Japan ahead following two straight ground outs, giving them the lead despite not recording a single hit at that point.
The score remained 2-1 in favor of Japan until the United States broke through with a pair of runs in the top of the fifth inning to take the 3-2 lead. Taylor reached on a fielder's choice and followed by swiping second base to get into scoring position. After a walk to May-Johnson, Kaitlin Cochran tied the game with a base hit through the right side, scoring Taylor. A double into the right-center field gap by Valerie Arioto brought May-Johnson in and gave the U.S. their first lead since the top of the first.
Thomas came into the game in relief for starter Keilani Ricketts in the bottom half of the fifth inning. She retired the first two batters quickly, recording a strikeout and a ground out back to the circle before issuing a two out walk, which she worked around by getting a ground out to third base.
The United States busted the game wide open with a five run sixth inning, highlighted by a grand slam by Arioto. Taylor scored on the slam after reaching with a single, as she slapped a chopper over the third baseman's head and down the line in left field. The U.S. scored their first run of the inning on a bases loaded hit by pitch, which then brought Arioto to the plate.
Japan closed the gap slightly with two unearned runs off Thomas in the sixth inning, taking advantage of a one out fielding error. Thomas struck out her second batter in relief, but Kazuki Watanbe came off the bench and delivered a pinch-hit two run single to make it 8-4.
That's how the game would end, as neither team got anything going in the seventh inning. The United States closes out pool play Sunday at 4:00 p.m. CT with a late afternoon contest against Great Britain which can be seen on ESPN2 or ESPN3.com.