HOUSTON, Texas – The USA Women’s National softball team battled through eight innings against the NPF Texas Thunder before beating them 2-0 after previously handing them a 9-2 loss in today’s games. The team will wrap up the series tomorrow at 1 p.m. in its final exhibition series before heading to Beijing, China for the ISF World Championships.
Caitlin Lowe (Tustin, Calif.) singled to lead off the game and advanced to second on a Thunder error. Natasha Watley (Irvine, Calif.) singled to left center scoring Lowe for the first run of the game. Jessica Mendoza (Camarillo, Calif.) hit a single to center field and her attempted steal at second allowed Watley to score giving Team USA an early 2-0 lead.
The team put up two more runs in the second with Vicky Galindo (Union City, Calif. ) earning a walk and scoring off a bunt by Watley. Lowe scored her second run of the game off a sacrifice fly by Mendoza to edge the lead to 4-0.
Jamie Southern (Clovis, Calif.) was the starting pitcher for Team USA and allowed no runs on the board until the third when three USA errors would put two runs up for the Thunder. Texas’ Lindsay Gardner reached first on an error by catcher Jenny Topping with Kristen Zaleski scoring on the error. Kim Nesloney scored the next run when Topping attempted to throw her out at third but sent the ball into the outfield allowing Nesloney to score cutting the U.S. lead to 4-2.
The team put up three straight singles in the fourth off the bats of Laura Berg (Santa Fe, Springs, Calif.) Lowe and Watley for two runs. With her second sacrifice fly of the game, Mendoza scored Berg and the other run would come off a fielders choice by Andrea Duran (Selma, Calif.) on which Lowe took advantage of with a slide into home.
Amanda Freed (Cypress, Calif.) came in during the fifth relieving Southern and striking out all three batters faced in the fifth. Southern finished the game with the win, five strikeouts and allowed only two hits.
Three runs were scored in the sixth including the only extra base hit of the game. Lowe led off with a single and was followed with a single by Watley. Both Watley and Lowe were 4-4 in game one with Lowe scoring every time she got on base and Watley putting up two runs. Mendoza took a pitch over center field for a three-run homerun, her fifth homerun of the season and the only extra base hit of the game.
Freed gave up one hit in the seventh but allowed no runs and secured the 9-2 victory.
It was a battle of the Olympic medalists in the circle with two-time gold medalist Christa Williams starting for the Thunder and 2004 medalist Jennie Finch getting her first start of the season for the red, white and blue, less than three months out of having her first child.
Stacey Nuveman (La Verne, Calif.) was the first to reach base with a walk in the second but no hits were recorded until the fourth when Watley hit a single down the left field line. Jennie Finch (La Mirada, Calif.) came out just as strong striking out eight batters and giving up only two hits through four innings.
Lowe laid down a bunt in the sixth to get a runner on with no outs. She stole second and took advantage of an error by catcher Denise Dahlberg to take third. Mendoza reached on a fielder’s choice but Lowe was tagged out at home. Nuveman reached again in the sixth off a single to left field advancing Mendoza into scoring position at second but a strikeout by Duran halted any scoring efforts.
Finch was relieved by Monica Abbott (Salinas, Calif.) after a stellar 5 2/3 innings allowing only four hits and striking out 12 for her first win of the season. Abbott secured the third out of the sixth, three in the seventh and with no USA runs scored, the game went into extra innings.
Lowe and Watley singled in the eighth and Nuveman loaded the bases with her second walk of the day. After stranding two on base with a strikeout in the sixth, Duran redeemed herself with a single down the right field line for two runs to give the US the only lead of the game, 2-0. Abbott struck out one and groundouts to first and second gave the U.S. the 2-0 win.
The series will conclude tomorrow at 1:00. Live stats and complete results can be found at www.usasoftball.com.
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