With an 8-5 win over Canada, the USA Softball Women’s National Team locked up the No. 1 overall seed in the playoff portion of the Canadian Open Fastpitch International Championship on Friday the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America and USA softball announced today. Sara Nevins (Pinellas Park, Fla.) threw five innings, giving up seven hits and striking out three to get the win for Team USA. The Americans will now wait to find out who they’ll play in tomorrow’s playoff portion of the tournament.
USA jumped to an early lead in the first inning when Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) and Raven Chavanne (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) both singled to start the at-bat. Two batters later, Moultrie scored when Amanda Chidester (Allen Park, Mich.) hit into a fielder’s choice. Later in the inning, Nicole Hudson (Webb City, Mo.) singled to score both Chavanne and Chidester to make it USA 3, Canada 0 after one.
Both teams were held scoreless in the second but Team USA picked up the pace in the third. Taking advantage of a walk and a hit-by-pitch, USA scored its fourth run of the game on a Valerie Arioto (Pleasanton, Calif.) single that scored Chavanne for the second time on the night. Not to be outdone, Hudson followed Arioto’s efforts with a double that scored Chidester from second. After three innings, USA led 5-0.
Determined to avoid being victims of Team USA’s third run rule of the tournament, Canada managed two runs on two hits and a walk in the top of the fourth. Yee led off with a single and later came around to score on a Lever base hit. Two batters later, a wild pitch from Nevins scored Gilbert from third to make it USA 5, Canada 2.
The Americans got a run back in the bottom of the fourth when Chavanne came around to score for the third time in the game, this time off of a Chidester single.
The Canadian bats came out hot in the fifth as they recorded three singles but could only manage one run in the inning. In the bottom half, Lindsey Ziegenhirt (Elk Grove, Calif.) matched the run with one swing. The Cal alum sent a 2-1 pitch sailing over the fence to push the score to USA 7, Canada 3.
Canada added two more runs in the sixth off of three hits and a USA error but still found themselves trailing 7-5 in the game. Team USA added an insurance run in the bottom half of the sixth by way of a Lauren Gibson (Pasadena, Md.) solo home run to push the score to USA 8, Canada 5.
Down to their last at-bat, Canada needed three runs to extend the game in the seventh.. Arioto entered the circle to start the inning for Team USA and recorded two outs but a couple of Canada base hits prompted another pitching change as Eriksen opted for Jessica Moore (Sutter, Calif.) who closed out the game and locked up the USA win.
Team USA moves to 5-0 in the Canadian Open Fastpitch International Championship and will be the No. 1 overall seed entering tomorrows playoff portion of the tournament.. They now have to await the winner of late Friday night and early Saturday games to see who they will play tomorrow at 10:30 p.m. CT. Regardless of who their opponent is, you can follow all of the action live by visiting www.USASoftball.com.