E.A. Sports Today

Softball split

Top-ranked U.S. Women’s National Softball Team splits its first day at Choccolocco Park, blanking Australia 4-0 and falling to No. 2 Japan 7-1

The USSSA Pride is looking for a favorable call when Delaney Spaulding (99) puts the tag on Australia’s Jade Wall during the team’s afternoon exhibition game Tuesday at Choccolocco Park. Japan (cover) beat the U.S. National Team in the day’s final game. (Photos by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

Tuesday’s Games
USSSA Pride 10, Australia 3
Japan 4, USSSA Pride 0
Team USA 4, Australia 0
Japan 7, Team USA 1

By Brant Locklier
For East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD – Three of the best women’s softball teams in the world came together for an historic night at Choccolocco Park and the reigning Olympic gold medalists showed it was prepared to stand its ground.

Team USA, Team Japan and Team Australia are headed to Birmingham and the World Games on Friday.

Japan, the reigning Olympic gold medalists, shut down top-ranked Team USA 7-1 in the fourth game of the day Tuesday and beat USSSA Pride, a team affiliated with the National Pro Softball League, 4-0 earlier to let the USA know that it has to change something in order to win the World Games.

Mia Goto fanned seven and the left-handed flame thrower induced a couple of double plays in twirling a two-hit shutout in the 4-0 win.

Team USA set up the Olympic gold medal game rematch with a 4-0 combined no-hitter over No. 8 Australia. Veteran Monica Abbott of Tennessee and UCLA aces Megan Faraimo and Ally Carda combined to strike out eight and only walk two. Abbott, who has lost only one game ever for Team USA, had seven of those strikeouts in three innings of work.

Former University of Alabama players Montana Fouts and Haley McCleney participated in throwing out the first pitch. Fouts threw a one-hopper to McCleney, but it was one of the few pitches she threw the Japanese did not belt all over the park.

Team Japan belted three balls, but all were caught. The huge crowd on site to see Fouts was disappointed with the second inning as Team Japan used three hits, a walk and a wild pitch to score two runs.

Fouts was lifted after that and replaced by Kelly Maxwell, who gave up three runs in three innings, and Jaylon Ford gave up two more runs in two innings.

Despite her tough night in the circle, Fouts was popular with the crowd, as fans lined up for her autograph during the post-game meet-and-greet with the team.

Second baseman Hannah Flippen was a bright spot for Team USA as she had a two-run homer in the win over Australia and a run-scoring fielder’s choice in the loss to Japan. Janae Jefferson went 4-for-6 in the two games.

“I am happy representing the USA; it is a dream come true,” Flippen said. “To represent my country and the amazing players that came before me is a huge honor.” 

The heat was stifling at Choccolocco Park, but Delanie Wisz was just as hot at the plate and in the field. She had a two-run blast to center field and drove in four runs in USSSA Pride’s 10-3 win over Australia.

She was great in the field as well, making all three put outs from her third base position in the fourth inning. She was 1-for-3 against Japan.

Wisz was a UCLA Bruin and she dreams of playing for Team USA one day.

“We really did not warm up so much today with the heat, but I felt good at the plate,” she said. “We have a big incentive playing these international teams as we want to show that we can play, too.”

Abbey Cheek drove in a pair of runs against Australia with a two-run bomb in the fourth inning. 

“It was an outside pitch and she had thrown me one in a previous pitch and I felt it coming,” she said. “I just put the bat on the ball and it got up.”

Pitcher Keely Rochard got stronger as the game went on and went the distance allowing just three hits. There was a lull in the third inning when the home plate umpire fell ill and suddenly left the field before returning some 15 minutes later.

All three Australian runs scored immediately when action picked up again. Rochard settled down after that and allowed only one base runner from that point.

It was a special day for Japan’s Nadoka Harada. She belted two home runs against Team USA and one against USSSA Pride.

The games were a rematch of Team USA’s doubleheader sweep on the Fourth of July in Columbus, Ga. They beat Australia 7-1 and blanked Japan 3-0.

The exhibition series continues Wednesday with USSSA Pride playing Australia at 2 p.m. and Team USA at 4:30 p.m.

U.S. Women’s National Team softball pitcher Montana Fouts signs the sleeve of a young fan while others line up to get the Alabama senior’s autograph after Tuesday night’s games with Australia and Japan at Choccolocco Park. (Photo by Stacy Booth)

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