Oct. 16, 2003
NANJING, CHINA - The USA Softball Junior Women's team sealed its No. 1 playoff seed in World Championship action after a 6-1 pool play victory over Chinese Taipei. With the 5-0 record, the U.S. pitching staff continued to stifle its opponents as the winning pitcher, UCLA's Lisa Dodd, recorded 14 strikeouts. The offensive bats of Caitlin Lowe, Emily Zaplatosch and Caitlin Benyi led the way combining for eight of the 12 U.S. hits.
Lowe extended her hit streak to five games with a single down the left field line to begin the game. Stealing second base, Lowe then advanced to third on a groundout from UCLA freshman Jodie Legaspi (Garden Grove, CA) before crossing the plate on a wild pitch from Taipei pitcher Chueh Ming Hui. Emily Zaplatosch then smacked her first of two doubles for the game to right field followed by a Caitlin Benyi RBI single to right center giving the U.S. an early 2-0 jump.
Silent through the fourth, Taipei threatened the 2-1 U.S. lead in the fifth with two outs after a fielding error put Hsui Min Lin on first. A stolen base from Lin and a bunt single from Meng Ting Lai allowed the go ahead run to reach first. But Dodd remained solid from the circle shutting down the Taipei rally with a strikeout to retire the side.
"At this point in the game I was just trying to remain calm and keep my cool," Dodd said. "I really wanted to keep the batter off balance and get that third out to end the inning."
The U.S. bats finally broke loose in the bottom of the fifth adding four insurance runs on a two out rally. Lowe connected down the left field line again for her third hit of the game before Norrelle Dickson popped a base hit over the third baseman putting runners at first and second. Legaspi then came up big with a double to left center allowing Lowe and Dickson to score for the 4-1 advantage. A pitching change from Taipei didn't faze the U.S. as Zaplatosch bolted a double to left field, her fourth of the tournament. Calling Kristie Fox from the dugout as a pinch-runner for Zaplatosch, Benyi, who went 3-for-3 on the night, secured the U.S. lead with a double to left center for the 6-1 U.S. advantage.
Dodd continued to blank the Taipei offense with five strikeouts through the sixth and seventh leading the U.S. to the 6-1 victory.
Lowe and Benyi led all hitters with three hits a piece while Zaplatosch, who leads the U.S. with eight RBI, added two doubles and two RBI.
Hitting a team .492, eight players on the U.S. roster are hitting .500 and above, including UCLA's Caitlin Benyi (.583), Emily Zaplatosch (.545), Lisa Dodd (.500) and Jodie Legaspi (.500), while the team is averaging 12.4 hits per game. From the circle they have allowed just two runs to their 47, seven hits, and have a 0.00 ERA.
The U.S. will finish Pool B action on October 17 vs. Russia at 3:00 p.m.(3:00 a.m. EST). Playoff action begins on October 18 when the No. 1 seed U.S. will battle the winner of No. 2 seed China and No. 3 seed Australia. Game time 8:00 p.m. (8:00 a.m. EST).