Japan takes Gold, holds off USA in extra innings for 2-1 victory

Written by Bob on July 22nd, 2012

WHITEHORSE, YUKON – Team USA’s Keilani Ricketts and Japan’s Yukiko Ueno hooked up in a superb pitchers’ duel through 10 innings in the Gold Medal game of the XIII International Softball Federation Women’s World Fastpitch Championship before Japan scored the decisive run in the top of the tenth inning for a 2-1 victory. Ueno then retired the USA squad in the bottom half, ending a great battle in the championship matchup.

Team USA’s Michelle Moultri raced back from her centerfield position to make a great catch over the fence to save a two-run home run in the eighth inning that would have given Japan a 2-0 lead.

In the ninth, Japan finally broke the scoreless string of innings by taking a 1-0 lead on Makiu Furuta’s run-scoring single up the middle. But Team USA answered in its half, tying the game on Lauren Gibson’s clutch two-out single that scored Orgeron to tie the game, sending it into the tenth.

Japan took a lead it wouldn’t surrender when they squeezed home a run from third base. In the inning, USA Head Coach Ken Ericksen made three pitching changes. He brought in Jackie Trayna in relief of Ricketts with one out and a Japan runner on third base. After Japan squeezed the run home, Ericksen removed Trayna in place of Chelsie Thomas.

A Japan single off Thomas put runners at first and third, and Ericksen again made a pitching change, reinstating Ricketts, who got the final out on a come-back ground ball. But Japan had the go ahead run it needed, and Ueno made sure it stood as she retired Ashley Holcombe on and infield ground out for the third out. Final Game Stats

Ueno, who celebrated her 30th birthday on Japan’s Gold Medal winning day, threw all 10 innings, allowing three hits, one run, one walk, and striking out nine. Ueno finished the day pitching 17 innings after defeating Australia 2-0 (two hits, nine strikeouts) earlier to advance to the Gold Medal game.

Ricketts was nearly as good through her 9.2 innings of work. She allowed just four hits, one run, one walk, while striking out 10. Gibson, Chidester and Orgeron each singled for USA’s only hits.

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Sixteen countries took part in the ISF XIII Women’s World Fastpitch Championship, July 13-22, in Whitehorse.

To read more about the women’s world championship visit the Whitehorse Daily Star

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