Hayward, CA--- Behind a huge offensive effort by USA second baseman Lyndsey Klein (Roseville, CA), the USA Elite Team defeated Australia, 3-1 and 6-1, in the final double-header series of the Pacific Challenge tonight in Hayward, CA.
Klein finished the night going 5-for-7, with a double, a home run, scored three runs and drove in six RBI.
In the second inning of the first game the offensive powerhouse got things rolling with a single to left field and moved to second on a passed ball. A single by outfielder Iyhia McMichael (Nacogdoches, TX) scored Klein for the opening run of the game.
USA starting pitcher Courtney Dale (Fresno, CA) pitched five innings of no-hit softball before being relieved in the sixth by Jamie Southern (Clovis, CA). The Aussies came out swinging tagging Southern for a run on two hits to even the game at 1-1.
After a walk to Teri Goldberg (Ft. Collins, CO), Klein put the game out of reach with a two-run blast to left field that gave the U.S. its final margin of victory.
McMichael and Kellie Wilkerson (Jacksonville, FL) were the only other U.S. players to record a hit in the game. Dale was credited with her third win of the season.
In the nightcap and the final game of the Pacific Challenge the USA Elite cruised to an easy 6-1 victory over the Aussie Spirit.
The U.S. jumped out to an early 2-0 lead courtesy of three walks and a costly error by the Australian defense. Nichole Thompson (Irvine, CA), Goldberg and Wilkerson each received free passes as Australian pitcher Kelly Gentile struggled to find the strike zone.
With the bases juiced, Gentile had an opportunity to get out of the inning with a fly ball to left field but Australian leftfielder Simmone Morrow dropped the ball and allowed two unearned runs to score.
The USA broke the game wide open in the fifth inning behind a grand slam home run by Klein, who went 4-for-6 with six RBI in the double-header. Thompson led off the inning with a single back up the middle and advanced to second when the shortstop made a bad toss to second on a fielder’s choice. Wilkerson kept the rally alive when the third baseman hesitated allowing her to reach on a fielder’s choice.
Klein would not let Gentile work out of this jam taking a 1-0 offering deep over the left field fence for her first grand slam of the season and second home run of the day.
Australia avoided the shutout with a single run in the sixth inning.
Over the five game series of the Pacific Challenge, Klein led the U.S. squad in virtually every offensive category beginning with a .444 batting average. She totaled six runs, eight hits, two doubles, two home runs, eight RBI, a slugging percentage of .889 and an on-base percentage of .474.
The Elite Team will return home until July 30th when they travel to Orlando to face the USA National Team in a series of exhibition games. The series will help to prepare the National Team for the 2003 Pan Am Games in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, August 4-17.
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