Team USA Clinches Berth in World Cup Title Game Despite Falling to Canada

OKLAHOMA CITY — The USA Softball Women’s National Team has secured a spot in the championship game of the 2010 KFC World Cup of Softball in Oklahoma City, despite a Sunday outing that saw the ISF 2010 Women’s World Champions fall to Canada. The Americans lost 5-2 at the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) Hall of Fame Stadium but still clinched the No. 1 tournament seed when Japan topped Canada 4-0 in the night cap.

The Women’s National Team, now 4-1 in the tournament, will seek a fourth consecutive World Cup title Monday at 8 p.m. against either Japan or the Futures, a seeding to be determined following the one remaining pool play game, the Women’s National Team against the USA Softball Women’s Futures National Team at noon Monday. Futures has a record of 2-3 heading into the match-up. Japan finishes pool play at 3-3 with Canada at 2-4.

Rain delayed Team USA’s game against Canada for more than three hours, causing a change in the World Cup schedule. The USA and Futures game, originally scheduled for Sunday at 7 p.m., was rescheduled for noon. The third place game will take place Monday at 4 p.m. followed by the Championship.

For the first time in the 2010 World Cup, Team USA found themselves trailing, when starting pitcher Eileen Canney (Pleasanton, Calif.) allowed five earned runs in the third inning to Canada, the 2010 ISF Women’s World Championship bronze medalist. She was replaced by Jennie Finch (La Mirada, Calif.) in the third, after walking Sheena Lawrick.

Erin Cumpstone singled through the right side to lead off the top of the third. Pinch runner Victoria Hayward advanced to second with a Heather Ebert sacrifice bunt. After Canney walked Joey Lye, Melanie Matthews doubled up the middle, scoring Hayward and Lye. Caitlin Lever then doubled to left center to bring in Matthews. With Lever at second, Jen Yee, a Top 3 Finalist for the USA Softball Collegiate of the Year Award, homered to center field to make it a 5-1 game.

In the seventh, with two outs, Caitlin Lowe (Tustin, Calif.) singled to left field to bring in Ashley Charters (Beaverton, Ore.), who also hit a single. It looked to be the start of a rally for Team USA. With bases loaded, trailing 5-2, Kaitlin Cochran (Yorba Linda, Calif.), who homered three times over three days, came up to the plate. Cochran hit a single into right field that seemingly brought around two runs. However, the ball had hit base runner Jessica Mendoza (Camarillo, Calif.) on the foot, so she was called out, ending the game.

“I think it’s good every now and then to have games like today, for the betterment of ourselves and of the sport,” Mendoza said. “Every team has a chance to beat us on any given night and this team has the chance to come back on any given night. I think that’s what makes the victories that much better ‘Hey they could beat us but they aren’t going to.’”

In the first game of the day, it was another late game decision for the USA Futures team as they waited until the sixth inning to put two runs up against Japan for a 2-1 victory at the KFC World Cup of Softball. After falling in the bottom of the seventh inning in last night’s nightcap, the Futures were able to hold off Japan allowing only one run when Japan put two runners on base.

Blaire Luna (Austin, Texas) made her first appearance of the World Cup, never allowing one consecutive hit for the Japanese. In her six innings of work, she allowed six hits while striking out one and walking one.

Both Japan and the USA Futures accounted for seven hits a piece with two of the Futures coming in the third where it looked like the zero all tied would be broken. Brittany Lastrapes (Laguna Niguel, Calif.) doubled to left field and was followed by a Raven Chavanne (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) walk. A groundout by Katelyn Boyd (Phoenix, Ariz.) put runners at second and third for the first time of the game. However one more out came off a lineout by Valerie Arioto (Pleasanton, Calif. ) leaving runners stranded.

In the top of the sixth, the United States took a 2-0 lead when lead off back-to-back singles by Chavanne and Boyd got the momentum going for the Red, White and Blue. A sac bunt by Arioto put the runners at second and third again but this time it would amount to runs scored as pinch hitter Megan Langenfeld (Bakersfield, Calif.) when a throwing error by shortstop allowed her to reach and Chavanne and Boyd to cross home plate.

In the bottom of the Japan’s Maki Tanigawa reached on an error by shortstop Molly Johnson (Tucson, Ariz.) and Naoko Matsumoto singled through the left side to result in a Futures pitching change. Jordan Taylor (Valencia, Calif.) came in for the save after Luna worked 6.0 innings with one strikeout and a walk. Taylor allowed another hit but with the help of her defense no more runs were scored.

Japan scored single runs in four different innings as the Japanese downed Canada, 4-0, in Sunday’s nightcap. Japan stranded 13 runners but got help in the form of five fielding errors by the Canadians. With the loss, Canada can finish no better than third, and Japan remains in the hunt for the championship game.

Naoko Matsumoto and Kasumi Mizoe reached on back-to-back singles in the top of the second and Matsumoto scored on Ayumi Karino’s groundout to give Japan a 1-0 lead. Japan tacked on another run in the second when Eri Yamada walked and later scored after Kaoru Oyanagi reached on an error.

Evelyn Pare registered Canada’s first hit of the game with a two-out single in the third. Melanie Matthews followed with a single to center field but both were stranded to end the frame.

Japan capitalized on two Canada miscues in the fourth to plate an additional run as Rie Nagayoshi scored on a base hit by Haruna Sakamoto. Yamada scored her second run of the game in the sixth after coming around on Satoko Mabuchi’s single up the middle.

Mabuchi and Maki Tanigawa each ended the game 2-for-4 for Japan. Makiko Fujiwara retired the first eight Canadian batters she faced en route to moving to 2-0 at the event. Fujiwara allowed just three hits and Sayuri Yamane registered her first save.

Matthews hit 2-for-3 and starter Tina Andreana went four innings, allowing three runs. Andreana issued three walks and struck out two.

– Courtesy USA Softball

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