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Japan wins 2017 Japan Softball Cup with walk-off over USA

posted Aug 29, 2017, 9:08 PM by Jairy Otero

Japan wins 2017 Japan Softball Cup with walk-off over USA

TAKASAKI CITY, Japan — World No. 1 Japan defeated No. 2 USA in the final of the WBSC-sanctioned 2017 Japan Softball Cup. The U.S. vs Japan rivalry lived up to the hype as Japan had to come back, after being down three runs going into the seventh inning, to earn the 5-4 victory and the back-to-back title.

Scores and Highlights

USA scored first after Kelsey Stewart was hit by a pitch and then driven in by Michelle Moultrie’s line drive double to right field.  That lead would not last long as a solo home run by Natsuko Sugama tied the game at one run each.

That score would hold until the top of the fifth inning when the U.S. re-took the lead.  A lead-off single from Delaney Spaulding put a runner on base and she would later score after Haylie McCleney doubled with a line drive to the left/center gap.

The U.S. added to their lead in the top of the sixth inning with a pair of runs.  Amanda Chidester singled with one out before Morgan Zerkle entered as a pinch runner.  Zerkle beat out a fielder’s choice on a ground ball from Valerie Arioto to put two on and a walk to Kasey Cooper loaded the bases.  Aubree Munro then singled to plate Zerkle, followed by Arioto who was pushed in when Janie Takeda was hit by a pitch for the 4-1 lead.

Down three, Misato Kawano led the bottom of the seventh off with a single to center. Mana Atsumi then walked and Hitomi Kawabata singled to load the bases. A wild pitch would allow Kawano to cross the plate for Japan and an intentional walk to Eri Yamada would once again load the bases with one out.  A single to left field by Yuka Ichiguchi cut the lead to just one run, which resulted in the fourth pitching change of the inning for USA.  A walk to Sugama tied up the ballgame before a Yamato Fujita sac fly resulted in Japan earning the 5-4, walk-off win.

3rd Place Game

In a classic pitchers’ duel, No. 4 Australia came out on top with a 1-0 win over No. 3 Canada.

Australia’s Kaia Parnaby pitched a complete game to strike out six while allowing only two hits and a walk. Making life tough for the Aussie Spirit was the fact that Canadian pitcher Karissa Hovinga was almost as good, allowing only two hits and two walks while striking out six.

Canada’s best chance to score was in the first inning after lead-off batter Kelsey Jenkins doubled with no outs. But Parnaby then struck out the next batter and induced two ground outs to end the threat. Australia also produced a scoring opportunity in the first inning after Stacey Porter and Taylah Tsitsikronis drew back-to-back walks with two outs. But Porter was forced out on a fielder’s choice to end the threat.

The key moment of the game came in the second inning, when Australia’a Samantha Poole led off with a double. Belinda White sacrificed Poole to third, then Jemma Freegard bunted, allowing Poole to score the game’s only run.

Canada had a chance to tie the game in the seventh inning after Holly Speers led off with a walk and was sacrificed to second. But Parnaby took care of the next two batters to ice the game.

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