|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
June 2, 2021
Web Release: Link
|STILLWATER, Okla. –– The “Stand Beside Her” tour, presented by Major League Baseball (MLB) returned to action today in Stillwater, Okla. as the USA Softball Women’s National Team (WNT) edged the USSSA Pride 3-2 in game one of the four-game series. Both offenses were relatively quiet throughout the contest with the score remaining tied through the last four innings of play, but a walk-off home run from Haylie McCleney (Morris, Ala.) would break the silence and secure the victory for the Red, White and Blue. Team USA’s pitching staff took care of business in the circle with a combined total of 14 strikeouts, with Monica Abbott (Salinas, Calif.) fanning six Pride batters followed by Cat Osterman (Houston, Texas) who struck out five in two innings.|
Ally Carda (Elk Grove, Calif.), who got the start in the circle for Team USA, kept the Pride off the board through two innings of play, allowing just two hits and two walks while striking out two batters – the last of which came at a crucial moment with bases loaded in the top of the second.
Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) got things started for the U.S. offense by taking a pitch to the elbow in the bottom of the second inning. She then moved into scoring position after a base hit from Kelsey Stewart (Wichita, Kan.), which set the stage for some situational hitting from Aubree Munro (Brea, Calif.) who laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Moultrie to third, and Janie Reed (Placentia, Calif.) who followed suit with a sac-fly to left field to put the U.S. on top, 1-0.
Keilani Ricketts (San Jose, Calif.) took over pitching duties for the Red, White and Blue in the top of the third inning, allowing a home run and a single before firing back with a strikeout. Another single by the Pride would send a runner home and put them on top, 2-1 before another pitching change for Team USA would bring Abbott into the circle. The lefty heat-thrower ended the threat with a strikeout and ground out to send the U.S. back to the plate, trailing the Pride, 2-1.
Team USA didn’t stay down for long, though as Ali Aguilar (Orangevale, Calif.) led off the bottom of the third with a hard line drive to right field followed by a walk to Valerie Arioto (Pleasanton, Calif) to put runners in scoring position for the U.S. Amanda Chidester (Allen Park, Mich.) produced with a solid ground ball up the middle to plate Aguilar and tie the game, 2-2. Despite loading the bases with a walk by Stewart later in the inning, the U.S. was unable to muster anymore runs.
Abbott continued dealing in the next two innings, striking out five Pride batters and allowing zero baserunners. Osterman entered the circle in the top of the sixth, following suit with Abbott’s performance by striking out the first three batters she faced.
Despite a solid showing on defense, Team USA’s bats stayed quiet, keeping the score tied at two going into the seventh. The Pride found some hope early in the inning, getting two baserunners off two walks by Osterman. A groundout would advance the runners to second and third, before another walk would load the bases for the Pride. Osterman zoned in with bases loaded and one out, retiring the next two batters she faced with back-to-back strikeouts to keep the Pride at bay.
A pitching change for the Pride in the bottom of the seventh would look to switch things up for Team USA’s 1-2-3 batters who were set to lead off the inning, but all it took was four pitches for McCleney to take care of business as she homered over the left field fence to secure the 3-2 walk-off victory for Team USA.
Team USA returns to the field for game two against the Pride on Friday, June 4. Held at the USA Softball Hall of Fame Complex, Team USA will square off against the Pride at 11 a.m. CT before the 2021 NCAA Women’s College World Series (WCWS) begins its evening session. The WNT will round out the four-game series against the Pride back at Cowgirl Stadium on June 6–7 with a 5 p.m. CT matchup on Sunday, June 6 and a 12 p.m. contest on Monday, June 7.
Tickets for the remaining three Team USA vs USSSA Pride games can be purchased online by clicking here.