IRVINE, Calif. – The field has been set for Championship Sunday at the inaugural USA Softball International Cup after the final day of round-robin action came to a conclusion. USA Red (World Championship roster), who had already secured the No. 1 seed in Pool A, defeated Chinese Taipei 11-2 while USA Blue (Japan All-Star Series roster) staked their claim on the No. 2 seed in Pool B after suffering a 5-3 loss to Japan.
Championship Sunday Schedule
- 10 a.m. PT – Puerto Rico vs Mexico – Deanna Manning Stadium
- 10 a.m. PT – Peru vs Colombia – Field 2
- 1:30 p.m. PT – Scrap Yard Fast Pitch vs Canada – Deanna Manning Stadium
- 1:30 p.m. PT – Venezuela vs Czech Republic – Field 2
- 5 p.m. PT – USA Red vs Japan – Deanna Manning Stadium – ESPN
- 7:30 p.m. PT – China vs USA Blue – Deanna Manning Stadium
USA Blue 3, Japan 5
It was another tightly contested game between Japan and USA Blue in what was the fourth meeting between the two teams this 2018 international season. With USA Blue holding a lead through the majority of the game, a two-run home run in the top of the sixth secured the 5-3 win for Japan.
Japan got a pair of base runners on in the top of the first with two outs, but USA Blue’s defense held steady to record out number three with no damage done. The U.S. offense did damage of their own in the bottom half of the frame after Sis Bates (Ceres, Calif.) singled with one out. On an 0-1 count, Hannah Flippen (San Diego, Calif.) recorded her fifth home run and 19th RBI of the USA Softball International Cup with a two-run shot over the left field fence.
USA Blue’s 2-0 lead was cut in half in the top of the third after Japan plated a run. Singles from Yuka Ichiguchi and Misato Kawano put two on with one out before a wild pitch allowed the two to advance a base. A single to right field allowed the runner on third to score, making it a 2-1, USA Blue lead.
USA Blue responded in their next at-bat to take another two run lead. With a leadoff walk to Jenna Lilley (North Canton, Ohio), a single from Kelly Kretschman (Indian Harbour, Fla.) and walk to Bates loaded the bases with no outs. A fielder’s choice quickly recorded the first out of the inning until Amanda Chidester (Allen Park, Mich.) hit a sac fly to left field to plate Kretschman and extend the lead to 3-1.
Japan tied up the ballgame in the top of the fifth inning after getting their leadoff batter on with a hit by pitch. A double and pair of defensive miscues by the USA Blue defense allowed two runs to score, tying the game up at three runs apiece.
A two-run home run by Natsuko Sugama gave Japan the lead for good in the top of the sixth. With the win, Japan earned the No. 1 seed in Pool B and will face USA Red in the Championship Game tomorrow at 5 p.m. PT on ESPN. USA Blue will head into tomorrow as the No. 2 seed and will face China.
Bubba Nickles (Merced, Calif.) paced the USA Blue offense, going 2-for-3 while Flippen picked up two RBI with her home run. In the circle, Paige Lowary (Dallas Center, Iowa) suffered the loss after allowing two earned runs with one strikeout in two and one-third innings in the circle. Jessica Moore (Sutter, Calif.) was the starting pitcher for USA Blue, tossing three and one-third innings with one strikeout and one earned run. Delanie Gourley (Lakeside, Calif.) and Ally Carda (Elk Grove, Calif.) also saw time in the circle with Gourley allowing one earned run in one inning pitched and Carda retiring her one batter faced.
USA Red 11, Chinese Taipei 2
Keilani Ricketts (San Jose, Calif.) picked up her first win of the USA Softball International Cup as USA Red soared to an 11-2 win over Chinese Taipei. With the win, USA Red finished round-robin action as the only undefeated team in Pool A.
USA Red jumped out to an early lead after scoring three runs in the top of the first inning. Haylie McCleney (Morris, Ala.) led off with a single and moved to second after Ali Aguilar (Orangevale, Calif.) walked. With one out, Valerie Arioto (Pleasanton, Calif.) teed off on a ball for a three-run home run.
Chinese Taipei responded in the bottom of the first with a run of their own after a pair of singles and a walk loaded the bases with one out. A slow roller to Arioto at first allowed the runner at third to score, making it a 3-1, USA Red ballgame.
USA Red tacked on to their lead in the top of the fourth after Sahvanna Jaquish (Highland, Calif.) doubled to plate Kirsti Merritt (Lake Panasoffkee, Fla.). The team added another run in the top of the fifth after Merritt singled to plate Janie Reed (Placentia, Calif.).
The lead for USA Red got cut to three runs after Chinese Taipei scored their second run of the contest in the bottom of the sixth, but the USA Red offense laid on the hits in the top of the seventh to break the game open. Back-to-back singles from Reed and Aguilar and an error on a sac bunt from Arioto plated the first run of the at-bat. With two on base, Delaney Spaulding (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) hit her second home run of the USA Softball International Cup for a three-run shot. The final two runs of the game came after Reed doubled to left field to bring Aubree Munro (Brea, Calif.) and Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) home.
Reed finished the day 3-for-5 with two RBI and two runs scored while both Spaulding and Arioto each picked up three RBI. Ricketts picked up the win, fanning six batters while allowing just one run in her four innings in the circle. Rachel Garcia (Palmdale, Calif.) issued two strikeouts while allowing one run in her two innings in the circle while Kelly Barnhill (Marietta, Ga.) pitched the final frame and recorded one strikeout.
Tickets for Championship Sunday can be purchased outside of Deanna Manning Stadium at the Bill Barber Park Ticket Booth. For complete coverage of the USA Softball International Cup, including rosters, live stats, streaming and results log on to USASoftballInternationalCup.com.