U.S. Shuts Down Australia 9-0 in Softball
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ One after another, the U.S. speedsters created havoc for the Australians. Jessica Mendoza drove in four runs and Jenny Topping added a two-run single to help the United States beat Australia 9-0 Saturday at the World Cup of Softball.
The United States took advantage of three Australia errors to score four runs in the third and five in the fourth. The game was called after five innings because of the run rule.
Cat Osterman (1-0) gave up three hits and struck out six. She retired the first nine batters she faced.
The U.S. (3-0) loaded the bases in the fourth without hitting the ball out of the infield. Australia shortstop Natalie Ward mishandled Laura Berg’s grounder to start the inning, and Caitlin Lowe beat Ward’s throw to first for an infield single. Another fielding error by Ward allowed Natasha Watley to reach, and Mendoza cleared the bases with a double to the gap in left center to make it 7-0.
``If you make a small mistake, they’re going to get on and make you pay for it,″ said Mendoza, who has 10 RBIs in three games.
Crystl Bustos and Vicky Galindo added RBI singles for the U.S., which has won all three gold medals in Olympic softball history. The Americans were to play China later Saturday.
``A couple errors at crucial times, and they’re such a quality team that if you open the door for them, they’ll slam it open,″ Australia coach Fabian Barlow said.
The Americans’ speed was also a factor in the third-inning rally.
Lowe, the U.S. leadoff hitter, started the inning with an infield single to shortstop, and the game turned when pitcher Kelly Gentle (1-1) fielded Watley’s grounder and threw wildly to first. Lowe wound up at third and Watley at second.
After Mendoza’s sacrifice fly, Gentle intentionally walked Bustos and got Stacey Nuveman to ground into a forceout.
Andrea Duran followed with an RBI single, with Bustos coming around from second and sliding in ahead of Belinda Wright’s throw from right field. Topping then blooped a single down the left field line that allowed Nuveman and Duran to score.
U.S. coach Mike Candrea said he thought the Australian errors were a result of fielders rushing because of speedy runners.
``That’s the reason why I like to build a team around speed,″ Candrea said. ``Speed kills.″
Australia (2-1) got its first runner into scoring position in the fourth inning but lost her immediately when Sandra Allen was called out for removing her helmet while the ball was still in play. Allen had reached second on a fielder’s choice groundout by Stacey Porter.
Barlow came out to argue the call but ended up summoning Allen back to the dugout along with him. He said Allen had her head down to stealing and thought she was going to be doubled up because a line drive had been caught.
Simmone Morrow got Australia’s first hit on an infield grounder into the hole at shortstop to start the fourth inning. She was forced out on Allen’s grounder, and Porter then followed with her grounder to third, which wound up resulting in a double play when Allen was called out.
Australia, which won the silver medal at the Athens Olympics in 2004, loaded the bases in the fifth on singles by Tracey Mosley and Ward and a walk by Amanda Doman but Osterman struck out Wright to end the threat and the game.
Osterman threw a one-hitter against Australia in a 3-1 win in last year’s World Cup.
``Cat really tied us down big time 12 months ago in this same event,″ Barlow said. ``We picked up a lot more runners on base, and these girls are full of the Aussie spirit and they showed it right to the end. They tried to find a way to score runs and keep grinding it out.″
Japan 7, Britain 6
Eri Yamada hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth to cap defending champion Japan’s comeback from a five-run deficit.
Stacie Townsend had a two-run double and Sarah Lockett homered in a five-run third inning that put Britain (0-3) ahead 5-1.
Japan (3-0) rallied from a 6-2 deficit with Masumi Mishina’s two-run homer in the fifth and three runs in the sixth.
Canada 3, China 1
Pinch hitter Tamra Howren doubled in the go-ahead run and scored in a three-run sixth inning for Canada.
Wu Di drove in the only run for China (0-3) on a squeeze bunt in the top of the fifth.
Jennifer Salling and Angela Lichty also had RBI singles for Canada (1-2).