SENDAI CITY, Japan — A three-run home run from Jenae Leles (Sacramento, Calif.) and an Alissa Haber (Newark, Calif.) two-run shot led the USA Softball Women’s National Team program to an 11-3 finish over Australia in the first game of the Japan Cup in Sendai City, Japan.
Team USA won despite being out hit by the Aussies 10-9 in the five-inning contest. “In my entire career, this is the first time I’ve ever coached a team that won a game by the run-ahead rule when the losing team out hit us,” said USA Head Coach Jay Miller (Starkville, Miss.).
But when the American women hit, they made it count. Four of the Team USA hits went for extra bases while only one Australian hit was an extra bagger. Outfielder Brittany Lastrapes (Laguna Niguel, Calif.), playing in the USA uniform for the first time at this level, tripled while shortstop Natasha Watley (Irvine, Calif.) contributed a double.
“Offensively, we did a great job with two outs and really put the pressure on them,” Miller said. Haber and Watley lead the team with two hits each while Chelsea Bramlett (Cordova, Tenn.), Molly Johnson (Lexington, Ky.), Lauren Lappin (Anaheim, Calif.), Lastrapes and Leles had one hit apiece.
Team USA had a 9-0 lead going into the bottom of the fourth, before the Aussies made their move, scoring two runs in the fourth. The USA scored another two in the fifth to extend the score to 11-2 but the Aussies responded in the bottom of the inning, adding another run to the board.
All three USA pitchers saw action, giving up a combined 10 hits to the Aussies, silver medalists at the recent KFC World Cup of Softball presented by Six Flags in Oklahoma City, Okla. “Our pitchers really struggled and we need to do a better job in the circle. There were too many hits and too many base runners,” Miller said.
Veteran ace Jennie Finch (La Mirada, Calif.) earned the win, striking out five of 14 batters. She allowed four hits and no runs in her three innings of work. Rookie pitchers Stacey Nelson (Los Alamitos, Calif.) and Katie Burkhart (San Luis Obispo, Calif.) each worked one inning against the Aussies.
Team USA will be back in action on Saturday with a doubleheader against Chinese Taipei at 1 p.m. followed by the nightcap at 6 p.m. against host Japan, the Olympic Champions and fourth place finishers at the World Cup. The Japan Cup concludes Sunday with the No. 3 and No. 4 seeded teams playing at 11 a.m. and the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds playing at 1:30 p.m.
The Amateur Softball Association, founded in 1933, is the National Governing Body of softball in the United States and a member of the United States Olympic Committee. The ASA has become one of the nation’s largest sports organizations and now sanctions competition in every state through a network of 83 local associations. The ASA has grown from a few hundred teams in the early days to over 240,000 teams today, representing a membership of more than three million. For more information on the ASA, visit http://www.asasoftball.com/.
About USA Softball
USA Softball is the brand created, operated and owned by the ASA that links the USA Men’s, Women’s, Junior Boys’ and Junior Girls’ National Team programs together. USA Softball is responsible for training, equipping and promoting these four National Teams to compete in international and domestic competitions. The USA Softball Women’s National Team is one of the only two women’s sports involved in the Olympic movement to capture three consecutive gold medals at the Olympic Games since 1996. The U.S. women have also won eight World Championship titles including the last six consecutive as well as claimed two World Cup of Softball titles. For more information about USA Softball, please visit http://www.usasoftball.com/.
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