July 5, 2002
HONOLULU - Team USA opened its 2002 schedule on Thursday in Honolulu, HI, on the first day of the U.S. Cup, defeating Canada 7-0 before falling to Japan by a 6-1 margin.
"Getting a win like this is a nice way for us to start the tournament," said USA head coach Mike Candrea after the USA's victory over Canada. "I was especially pleased with the way we were able to get over the first-game jitters and manufacture some runs early in the game."
The USA opened the scoring in the top of the first inning when Natasha Watley (Irvine, CA) walked, stole second, advanced to third on a single by Laura Berg (Santa Fe Springs, CA) and scored on a fielder's choice from Stacey Nuveman (La Verne, CA).
Canada threatened with one out in the bottom of the first, but the U.S. defense held. Meagan Wilton reached base on an error and advanced to third on a double by Karen Lichty, but Wilton was later thrown out trying to score from third on an infield grounder from Sommer West. Nuveman then ended the rally by gunning down West at second on an attempted steal to end the inning.
With the help of two walks to open the top of the second inning, the USA extended its lead to 2-0. Lovie Jung (Westminster, CA) and Tairia Mims (Tucson, AZ) led off with back-to-back walks and advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Leah O'Brien-Amico (Chino Hills, CA). Jung then scored the lone run of the inning on a fielder's choice from Watley.
In the top of the third, the USA continued its scoring to push the lead to 4-0. Jessica Mendoza(Camarillo, CA) led off with a bunt single, stole second and advanced to third on a single by Nuveman. A walk to Lisa Fernandez(Long Beach, CA) loaded the bases for designated player Nina Lindenberg (Anaheim Hills, CA), who singled down the left field line to score Mendoza. A fielder's choice by Jung resulted in Nicole Giordano (Saugus, CA), pinch running for Stacey Nuveman, being forced out at home.
The final run of the inning came when O'Brien-Amico hit a line shot to the pitcher that allowed Fernandez to score.
Canada looked as if it might get on the board in the bottom of the third inning after back-to-back lead off singles by Jackie Nichol and Kristy Odamuraand a groundout by Meagan Wilton that sent runners to second and third. An ensuing fly ball to center field by Angela Lichty looked as if it would score Nichol from third, but Berg threw a bullet to Nuveman at home for the third out of the inning.
Berg picked up her second hit of the game to lead off the top of the fourth and later scored on a two-out single by Fernandez to give the USA a comfortable 5-0 lead.
Canada thought it had finally broken its scoring draught in the bottom of the fourth when Sasha Olson sent a 1-1 offering from Harrigan toward the left field wall, but Mendoza snared the ball from over the fence for the third out of the inning.
The USA scored its final two runs of the game in the top of the seventh, when pinch-hitter Teri Goldberg (Ft. Collins, CO) laced a two-out single to right field to score Lindenberg and Jung, who had reached on a walk and a single, respectively.
"I was glad we were able to get a lot of people into the game today, and I was especially pleased to see Teri Goldberg come up with the two-RBI pinch-hit single," said Candrea.
Two-time Olympic gold medalist Lori Harrigan (Las Vegas, Nevada) picked up the win for the USA after throwing five complete shutout innings, allowing only four hits. Amanda Freed (Cypress, CA) and Jennie Finch (LaMirada, CA) each pitched one hitless inning for the U.S. to close out the game.
"Lori seemed to get stronger as the game went along," said Candrea. "She was able to get out of a few situations with runners in scoring position by making some good pitches and with some help from her defense."
Canada's Lauren Bay picked up the loss for Canada after going three innings, allowing four earned runs on five hits and four walks.
In the nightcap, a slow start for U.S. pitching, coupled with a quick a start from Japan's offense, resulted in a 6-1 loss for the hosts during U.S. Cup action Thursday night at the University of Hawaii's Wahine Softball Stadium.
With the defeat, Team USA is now 1-1 for the tournament, while Japan improves to 1-0.
Starting U.S. pitcher Michele Smith (Califon, NJ) struggled right out of the gate, issuing four walks, including one with the bases loaded, in the first inning.
Things didn't get any better in the second, as Japan started their half of that inning with three consecutive singles before Smith was replaced by Amanda Freed (Cypress, CA). Japan eventually scored five runs in that second frame, highlighted by a three-run home run from Sachiko Ito, a sacrifice fly from Kazue Ito and an RBI-single from Naomi Arai. Kazue Ito finished the game with two hits for Japan.
The United States actually opened the game's scoring, when Jessica Mendoza(Camarillo, CA) doubled down the left field line to score Natasha Watley (Irvine, CA) in the top of the first. Watley started the game with a walk and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt from Laura Berg (Santa Fe Springs, CA) before scoring on Mendoza's double.
Stacey Nuveman (La Verne, CA) also had a double for Team USA, while Lovieanne Jung's (Fountain Valley, CA) single in the fifth was the team's only other hit.
Hiroko Sakai went the distance with her three-hitter to get the win, striking out three and issuing two walks. The one run the U.S. scored was unearned.
Smith, who worked just one official inning and gave up four earned runs, picked up the loss for the United States.
"We've got to come out tomorrow and get on a roll," USA head coach Mike Candrea said. "If we can get our speed on base and get the defense moving, we should be able to manufacture some runs."
Team USA doesn't play again until 7 p.m. Friday, when it challenges Australia.
Japan opens Friday's activities with a noon contest against Australia and then plays China at 5 p.m.