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USA Elite wins Canada Cup with dramatic walk-off home run

Surrey, B.C., Canada---In a driving rain, Iyhia McMichael (Nacogdoches, TX) sent a 2-2 offering from Australian ace Melanie Roche over the left field fence in the bottom of the 10th inning to give the USA Elite Team a 2-0 win in the finals of the 2003 Canada Cup. The home run marked the first hit of the tournament for McMichael who was 0-for-13 thus far in the Canada Cup.

For the second consecutive game, it took extra innings to decide the winner between the USA Elite and Australia . In the semi-finals last night Australia came out on the winning end in 12 innings to send the USA Elite Team to the loser’s bracket final to face the USA National Team.

In the first, Australia threatened after a lead-off walk to Natalie Ward who advanced to third on back-to-back sacrifices. Australian slugger Peta Edebone lined a shot down the third base line that was snared by Toni Mascarenas ( Stanton , CA ) who then dove to tag out Ward for the double play.

In the seventh the Aussies failed to capitalize on consecutive singles to open the inning and actually had the go ahead run thrown out at the plate before leaving runners stranded at second and third to end the inning.

It looked as if the USA would end the game in the bottom of the eighth inning when Lauren Lappin led off with a short fly ball to center that was dropped by the second baseman allowing her to advance to second. McMichael entered the game to pinch-run for Lappin and was thrown out at third attempting to steal. After a Gina Oaks (Alta Loma, CA) ground out, Kelly Kretschman (Indian Harbour Beach, FL) launched what appeared to be the game winning home run to center field but the ball run was corralled by the Australian centerfielder to end the inning and advance the game further into extra innings.

After a walk to Edebone in the top of the ninth inning, U.S. starting pitcher Jaime Southern (Clovis, CA) was lifted and replaced by Jodie Cox (Lancaster, CA). Two of the first three batters faced by Cox were hit-by-a-pitch to load the bases. With its back to the wall, the USA got out of the inning with a heads up defensive effort. A fly ball to left field provided the USA with the second out of the inning but a costly base running mistake by the Aussies attempting to tag up from third base was the difference in the inning. Marissa Carpadios’ attempt to take home on the flyout was spoiled by the USA Elite defense when U.S. shortstop Lyndsey Klein ( Roseville , CA ) rifled a throw home to gun down Carpadios for the final out.

A one, two, three inning in the top of the 10th kept the momentum on the side of the U.S. With one out in the inning, Selena Collins ( Glendale , AZ ) reached on an infield single and advanced to second on a groundout by Toni Mascarenas. With two outs and a 2-2 count, McMichael provided the extra inning heroics with a shot over the left field fence. This team has played with a lot of heart this entire tournament and we believed we could come out and win today,” said McMichael. “I knew I had to be patient at the plate and just wait on a pitch I could hit and I got the one I wanted."

With the win the USA Elite Team improved to 11-1 in Canada Cup action and captures the third consecutive Canada Cup title for a USA Women’s National Team. The Elite Team now travels to San Francisco where it will play Australia in a six-game series beginning on Thursday at Stanford University .

Note: USA National Teams were well represented on the Canada Cup All-Star Teams. USA players that were named to the All-Star squad are USA Elite pitcher Alicia Hollowell, USA National Team players Stacey Nuveman, Lovieanne Jung, Lisa Fernandez, Natasha Watley and Crystl Bustos. The Top Hitter in the tournament was Crystl Bustos, the top defensive player went to USA Elite’s Lauren Lappin and the MVP of the 2003 Canada Cup was USA Elite pitcher Jodie Cox.

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