Team USA won over Australia 3-1 in its closest game so far in the WSBC World Championship, but the story was Monica Abbott's amazing pitching performance as she recorded 18 strikeouts
Here's a report of her amazing performance and the latest win for USA with information supplied by USA Softball... Next up: 2020 Olympic host Japan!
Chiba, Japan — In another outstanding performance in the circle, Abbott racked up 18 strikeouts enroute to Team USA’s 3-1 win over Australia at ZOZO Marine Stadium. Improving to 8-0 at the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) World Championship, Team USA remains undefeated and is now 18-6 all-time against Australia in World Championship play.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game coming in and we got what we expected,” said Head Coach Ken Eriksen in the postgame press conference.
It didn’t take long for Monica Abbott (Salinas, Calif.) to shut down the Australian offense, collecting three strikeouts in the top of the first inning to retire the side and give Team USA time at the plate. In the bottom half of the frame, the Red, White and Blue capitalized on an infield error as leadoff hitter Haylie McCleney (Morris, Ala.) quickly took first and advanced to second on a passed ball.
An RBI single from Delaney Spaulding (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) drove in McCleney to plate the first run of the game. Despite Valerie Arioto (Pleasanton, Calif.) singling to left to put two runners on, a fly out and strikeout closed out the first inning.
Both sides would go three-up, three-down through the next two frames, with Abbott delivering another six strikeouts to bring her count to nine after three complete innings.
A solo shot by Australia’s Stacey Porter led off the top of the fourth inning and tied the ballgame. While a single to left followed, another three strikeouts ensued to retire the Aussies. While Arioto would draw a leadoff walk to start the bottom half and move to second on a one-out sacrifice bunt from Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.), a ground out would bring up the fifth inning.
Abbott continued to work from the circle, fanning the next three batters to signal the start of the bottom half of the fifth. Janie Reed (Placentia, Calif.) hit a one-out double and advanced to third following a single from McCleney, while a walk to Ali Aguilar (Orangevale, Calif.) loaded the bases for the Red, White and Blue.
The U.S. took back the lead after Reed crossed home on a fielder’s choice from Spaulding and McCleney slid home after a throwing error was made by the third baseman, putting USA back on top, 3-1.
The Aussies went down in order in the top of the sixth and while Kirsti Merrit (Lake Panasoffkee, Fla.) drew a one-out walk in the bottom half, she was caught stealing before an infield groundout closed out the sixth.
A scoreless seventh for the Aussies would give Abbott and Team USA the 3-1 win. Through seven innings, Abbott finished the game with 18 strikeouts and two hits allowed, while Spaulding led the offense with two RBI.
Team USA returns to action on Saturday, August 11 at 7 pm JT (5 am CT) to face world-ranked No. 2 Japan. Live stats will be available through USASoftball.com.
The softball flagship competition will feature 73 games across 10 days of competition. The top four finishers from each group will advance to the double page playoff round, while nations not advancing will compete in the placement round.
The World Championship finale will take center stage on August 12 at 7 pm JST following the bronze medal match at 2 p.m. JST. The top nation will claim the first of five available softball spots for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, with Japan qualifying automatically as the host country.