July 13, 2013
OKLAHOMA CITY --Lauren Gibson and Raven Chavanne had strong outings for the Red, White and Blue on Saturday, but Team USA could not overcome a rocky start, falling to Japan, 7-4, in pool play of the General Tire World Cup of Softball VIII at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium.
Gibson was 2-for-3 with one double, one run and one walk. Chavanne was 1-for-3 with a sac bunt, a stolen base and six defensive assists.
Aimee Creger took the loss for the U.S. after starting and allowing three runs over just two-thirds of an inning. Cheridan Hawkins allowed two more runs over 2.1 innings. Sara Nevins surrendered two runs over four relief frames.
After Japan climbed out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first, Chavanne and Gibson helped the U.S. respond in the bottom half of the inning. Batting second, Chavanne laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Michelle Moultrie to second base. Gibson legged out an infield single in the next at-bat, sending a 1-2 pitch from Japan's ace Yukiko Ueno to the right side and beating out an impressive glove throw from the second baseman. Her hit moved Moultrie to third base. Two batters later, Valerie Arioto hit an RBI single to score Moultrie and bring Team USA to within 3-1.
Chavanne came up big on two outs in the top of the second. She made a 5-4 throw to Gibson off a ball hit short by Yuka Ichiguchi for the second out and followed with a 5-3 putout on a knock from Misato Kawano to end the inning.
In the bottom of the second, Chavanne helped bring in the American's second run. She sent an 0-1 pitch back to Ueno in the circle that the pitcher mishandled. Rhea Taylor scored from third base on the play and the U.S. climbed to within 3-2.
With Japan leading 6-2 in the bottom of the fifth, Gibson drew a two-out walk to spark a rally. The Pasadena, Md., drew a five-pitch walk and later scored when Amamda Chidester hammered a two-run homer to left field to bring Team USA to within 6-4.
In the bottom of the seventh, Chavanne ripped a one-out single down the left field line but was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double. In the next at-bat, Gibson drilled a 0-1 pitch that bounced to the left field wall for a double.
Through three games of the World Cup, Gibson's five hits, four RBIS and five runs lead Team USA and her .556 batting average (5-for-9) ranks second on the squad. Chavanne has a .333 batting average (2-for-6) in the two games she has played with one run and two stolen bases. Chavanne's eight defensive assists from the hot corner lead the team.
Team USA continues pool play on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET on ESPN against Puerto Rico in a Pink Out Game. Puerto Rico is coming off a 4-0 loss to Japan and a 6-2 loss to Australia on Saturday.
Canada and Japan completed pool play with 3-1 records. The tiebreaker for seeding is runs given up to the opposing teams in the tie. The Americans need to win and shut out Puerto Rico in order to advance the Championship Game, which is Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN2.