Oct. 20, 2003
NANJING, CHINA - In front of a sell out crowd, the USA Softball Junior Women's team fell 3-2 in a disappointing extra inning loss against defending World Champion Japan. Taking home the World Championship silver medal, a combination of U.S. errors hurt the Red, White and Blue attack after battling back with a 7-0 win over Australia earlier in the day to advance to the gold medal game. UCLA sophomore Caitlin Benyi was Team USA's top hitter in the tournament, turning in a .519 average with nine RBI, five doubles, three home runs and eight runs scored. Bruin sophomore Emily Zaplatosch led the Americans with 11 RBIs in the tournament.
This marks the second consecutive World Championship silver medal for the U.S. Junior team as they fell 3-1 to Japan in 1999. The two teams have now faced each other in the gold medal game of the 19-and-under fast pitch event in five of the seven ISF Jr. Women's World Championships, which is held every four years.
In top of the second inning the U.S. was in trouble early after a walk to Japanese lead off hitter Moe Yamasaki followed by a USA fielding error put two runners on board with no outs. An RBI blooper base hit from Yumi Shimabukuro then dropped to center field allowing Japan to take the 1-0 lead.
The U.S. bats fired back as UCLA freshman Lisa Dodd ripped a hard hit base hit through the left side in the bottom of the second to kick start the U.S. offense. Designated player Desiree Williams then repeated with another single through the left side before a sacrifice bunt from Andrea Duran advanced the runners. The U.S. came up big again with two outs as they have the entire tournament when Bruin freshman Jodie Legaspi drove a line drive RBI hit to the third baseman scoring Dodd for the 1-1 tie. Continuing the two out rally, right fielder Jackie Rinehart then contributed an RBI double down the right field line plating Williams to take the 2-1 lead.
Silent through the third and fourth the Japanese tied the game 2-2 in the fifth off a fielding error. Yuia Kashima began the inning reaching first after being hit by a pitch from U.S. hurler Monica Abbott. A sacrifice bunt from Naoko Sakamoto advanced Kashima into scoring position before Masuyama Yuri, who finished 3-for-4, singled to left field before the fielding error plated Kashima for the 2-2 tie.
Both teams were hitless through the sixth and seventh extending the game into extra innings. The International tie breaker rule was put into effect allowing the batter who made the last out to be placed on second base during the next offensive sequence. Placing Kashima at second, a fielding error from Abbott allowed Japan's Sakamoto to advance to first before Yuri's third hit of the game plated the eventual winning run for Japan. As the home team the U.S. had a chance in the bottom of the eighth placing Benyi on second, but the U.S. offense just couldn't respond falling 3-2 to take home the silver.
"The Japan team played a good game and I really think both teams really deserve a lot of credit for getting to the final game and making it a good one," head coach Pam Newton said. "We played hard throughout this tournament and it has truly been a pleasure to work with this team and these players. They are all very talented and have great futures ahead of them."
Losing pitcher Abbott dropped to 2-2 in the tournament as the U.S. took home the silver medal with a final 8-2 record. They tallied seven hits and four errors in the final game while Williams led hitting 2-for-4. Throughout the championship, the U.S. outscored its opponents 71-7 while Benyi led the U.S. hitting at .519 followed closely by lead off hitter Caitlin Lowe at .500. Zaplatosch led with 11 RBI and two homeruns while Benyi and Williams contributed three homeruns a piece.
From the circle, the pitching staff combined for a 0.15 ERA as Abbott finished with 58 total strikeouts and allowed 11 hits in four games pitched.
Game 1-USA 7 Australia 0
The USA Softball Junior Women's team stayed alive in playoff action capturing a 7-0 win over Australia to advance to the gold medal game of the Junior World Championships. Winning pitcher Lisa Dodd had a strong performance from the circle allowing just two hits and retiring seven batters via strikeout.
After a two inning struggle leaving four batters stranded, the U.S. offense finally lit the scoreboard in the top of the third taking a solid 4-0 lead. Norrelle Dickson led the inning connecting on a 1-2 pitch with a base hit through the right side. Caitlin Benyi, rolling on a six game hit streak, then sacrificed Dickson with a bunt landing Dickson at second. An intentional walk from Australia to clean up hitter Emily Zaplatosch put runners at first and second before pinch runner Jessica Gilmore entered for Zaplatosch. On a two out rally pitcher Lisa Dodd then bolted her fifth double of the tournament to center field. Then it was left fielder Andrea Duran who blasted a soaring two run homerun to left field for the 4-0 advantage.
The U.S. added a security run in the fourth when Jackie Rinehart, batting .333, led with a base hit bunt later stealing second and advancing to third on a wild pitch from Australian pitcher Jocelyn McCallum. A walk from Dickson put two runners on before the U.S. scored its fifth run with a RBI groundout from Benyi for 5-0 lead.
With two outs, the U.S. struck again in the fifth after Williams reached on an error from Australian second baseman Lauren Williams. A sac bunt from Dodd moved Williams over before an RBI base hit to the right center gap from UCLA freshman Jodie Legaspi plated Williams for the 6-0 U.S. advantage.
The U.S. would go on to score two more run for the eventual 7-0 mercy rule victory thanks to a Benyi double who finished the game at 2-for-3 and is leading the U.S. hitting .565.
Australia called on four pitchers during the U.S. victory giving up nine hits and allowing three walks. Winning the bronze medal, Australia was stifled by the U.S. pitching staff tallying just three hits while the U.S. recorded its sixth shutout victory.
USA Junior Women must win two for gold after 2-1 loss to Japan
NANJING, CHINA - The USA Softball Junior Women's team suffered its first loss of World Championship action as Japan slipped by with a 2-1 victory off a two-run homerun in the fifth. A battle of the only two undefeated teams and both No. 1 seeds, the loss moves the U.S. to 7-1 as they prepare for the bronze medal game where they will meet Australia at 11:00 a.m. (11:00 p.m. EST) on October 20. The winner will advance to the gold medal game against Japan at 1:30 p.m. (1:30 a.m. EST).
"It was a good effort on both teams part and the Japan team had a great game," head coach Pam Newton said. "They had a very nice hit to field the 2-1 win tonight. We hit the ball well but unfortunately it was right at their players and the decision ended in their favor."
The U.S. bats struggled from the plate leaving four runners on base throughout the game. In bottom of the first the U.S. saw its first runner in scoring position as Norrelle Dickson (Orange, CA), hitting .529, drove a double to left center. A walk to Emily Zaplatosch put two runners on but a fly out to right field from Caitlin Benyi left Dickson and Zaplatosch stranded.
A two out rally in the bottom of the fourth put another runner on for the Red, White and Blue as Benyi connected on her 11th hit of the tournament. But flawless Japanese defense and the pitching of Yuia Kashima tied up the U.S. bats when a fly out to left field from Desiree Williams took the game scoreless into the fifth.
The tides changed in the fifth, however, as the U.S. fell behind for the first time in World Championship action. After two called strikeouts from Abbott, it was Japan's Yukie Iwai who reached on a dropped routine pop up from U.S. second baseman Kristie Fox allowing Iwai to reach first. Behind 0-2 in the count, Japanese pitcher Kashima then helped her cause driving the ball deep to right field for a two run homerun lifting Japan to a 2-0 lead. The homerun was the first earned run the U.S. has allowed in tournament play.
The U.S. offense responded to the 2-0 Japan lead with a run in the bottom of the fifth after shortstop Lisa Dodd contributed her eighth hit of the tournament with a single down the left field line. A successful sacrifice bunt from Andrea Duran moved Dodd into scoring position before left handed slapper Caitlin Lowe, leading the U.S. bats at .591, tapped a base hit to left field plating Dodd for the 2-1 difference.
Looking to scrap the tying run, the U.S. offense continued to be silenced by the arm of Kashima through the sixth and seventh suffering the eventual 2-1 lost. Benyi, Lowe, Dickson and Dodd each contributed a hit in the U.S. effort while losing pitcher Monica Abbott, despite the loss, tossed a solid seven inning game tallying 12 strikeouts from the circle. She now moves to 2-1 in World Championship action.
"Tomorrow is a new day and we are really positive," head coach Pam Newton said. "The players are confident in themselves and this team definitely has what it takes to battle back and win the gold."