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U.S. Shuts Down Australia 9-0 in Softball

July 15, 2006

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ 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.

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.

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.

The Americans’ speed was also a factor in the third-inning rally.

Lowe led off 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.

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.

Australia coach Fabian Barlow came out to argue the call but ended up summoning Allen back to the dugout along with him.

Cat Osterman (1-0) gave up three hits and struck out six. She retired the first nine batters she faced.

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.

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