Nov. 17, 2006YOKOHAMA, Japan - Rising Tennessee senior pitcher Monica Abbott was close to perfection on Thursday night for the prestigious U.S. National Softball Team in its opener at the Japan Cup in Yokohama, Japan. The Salinas, Calif., native picked up the victory for the Red, White & Blue in the circle by striking out seven and permitting just one hit over five innings of work as Team USA drilled China 8-0 (5 inn.). The three-time Louisville Slugger/National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) All-American's bid for a perfect game ended in the top of the fourth on a single.
The American squad is hoping to garner its third Japan Cup title in the last four years and is out for revenge after losing to the home-standing Japanese in last year's event final by a 3-0 count. Japan is the lone team to defeat the U.S. during its ultra-successful 2006 campaign having registered a 3-1 victory in preliminary round play at the ISF Women's World Championship in September. The Americans rebounded from that defeat to grab their sixth consecutive world championship gold medal with a 3-0 victory over Japan in the final.
The Red, White & Blue wasted little time on Thursday in providing Abbott some key offensive support by racing to a quick 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. That lead was extended to 7-0 in the bottom of the second as former UCLA All-American Andrea Duran blasted a grand slam. In the fourth inning former Stanford star Jessica Mendoza, who went 3-for-3 in the contest, collected her third hit of the match-up to plate Team USA's final tally.
Up next for the American squad in the round-robin preliminary format is a doubleheader consisting of Holland at 9 p.m. ET on Friday, before facing off against archrival Japan on Saturday morning at 12:30 a.m. ET. Yokohama, Japan, is 12 hours ahead of the Eastern Time Zone.
|U.S. Japan Cup Schedule|
|Thurs., Nov. 17||U.S. vs. China||U.S. 8-0 (5)|
|Fri., Nov. 18||U.S. vs. Holland||9 p.m. ET|
|Sat., Nov. 19||U.S. vs. Japan||1:30 a.m. ET|
|Bronze Medal Game||8:30 p.m. ET|
|Gold Medal Game||11 p.m. ET|