Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
USA Softball Sweeps the Day
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: August 14, 2008
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Aug. 14, 2008

BEIJING -- Thanks to mother nature, the U.S. Softball team was forced to play back-to-back games against two historically difficult opponents in Japan and Canada. Team USA responded well, however, and swept the day in dominating fashion.

USA vs. Japan

Team USA smacked an Olympic record four home runs, and Monica Abbott allowed only one hit in a 7-0 five-inning run rule victory of Japan upping Mike Candrea's squad to 3-0 in the Olympic games.

After surrendering the first hit against the U.S. in the Olympics to the leadoff batter Ayumi Karino, Abbott (1-0) retired 15 straight to finish the game with five strikeouts in five innings.

The Americans started off early with leadoff hitter Natasha Watley hitting a long ball followed by a double from former Wildcat Caitlin Lowe. Jessica Mendoza followed suit with a two-run smash of her own to right field.

After Crystl Bustos reached second on an error, Kelly Kretschman plated her with a single to short left widening the margin to 4-0 all before Japan recorded a single out in the contest.

Starting pitcher Naho Emoto was chased in favor of Mika Someya who gave up three runs of her own in the fourth, including Mendoza's second homer down the right field line, followed by a Bustos shot to straightaway center.

For Bustos, the homer was her fourth straight Olympic game with a long ball. Team USA put nine hits on the board to Japan's single hit and error.

UA alums Lowe and Lovieanne Jung both went 1-3 in the contest.


USA vs. Canada

Team USA capitalized on three sixth-inning errors to plate four runs, and Cat Osterman came within one strike of tossing her second no-hitter as Mike Candrea's squad rallied from behind to defeat Canada, 8-1, in the second game of a doubleheader.

Osterman (2-0) was inserted into the lineup before the bottom of the fourth for the United States. Monica Abbott had started the game yesterday, but pitched in the earlier game against Japan. Although Abbott allowed a unearned run before the postponement, she and Osterman held a combined no-no that was broken up in the bottom of the seventh inning.

When the previously postponed match continued in the top of the fourth, the offenses seemed to sputter with the new pitchers dominating the diamond. Lauren Bay Regula held the Americans at bay for two innings before being lifted for starter Dione Meier preceding the sixth inning.

In the top half of the sixth, Tucson native Tairia Flowers found first base when right fielder Alison Bradley dropped a diving catch that was ruled an error. Meier allowed a sacrifice slap from Natasha Watley that advanced Flowers to third and an error on a Caitlin Lowe grounder pushed her to third.

Flowers was gunned down at home on a fielder's choice with Jessica Mendoza at the dish. But after an intentional walk to Crystl Bustos to load the bases, Kelly Kretschman was hit by a pitch on the elbow to plate Team USA's first run and tie the game.

A wild pitch to the next batter, Andrea Duran, allowed the baserunners to advance scoring Mendoza and giving the U.S. the lead. Duran made contact on the next pitch, but Canadian shortstop Jennifer Salling air-mailed the throw into the dugout allowing Bustos and Kretschman to score and give Team USA a 4-1 lead.

An inning later, Watley singled up the middle, stole second and was knocked in by a Lowe single. Mendoza reached base again with a double that scored Lowe from first and widened the margin to 6-1. The United States added two more off a single from Andrea Duran for the final margin of 8-1.

Through two games, Osterman had a combined 10.2 innings of no-hit ball before allowing a two-out, two-strike base hit to Sheena Lawrick. But Osterman struck out Megan Timpf to end the game and improve Team USA's record to 4-0 at the 2008 Olympic Games.

Former Wildcats Lowe went 1-4 with two runs and an RBI, while Lovieanne Jung went 1-3 at the dish. The U.S. scattered six hits off of Canadian pitching.

Up Next: Team USA will take on Chinese Taipei at 9 p.m. on Friday night (Tucson time). Check your local listings for television coverage in your area.