USA Advances To Championship Game At U.S. Cup With Win Over China

July 8, 2002

Honolulu, Hawaii - Team USA secured a spot in Sunday's U.S. Cup championship game after defeating China 3-0 Saturday night at University of Hawaii's Wahine Softball Stadium.

Single runs in the bottom of the third, fourth and fifth innings carried the U.S. to the win.

'I thought tonight was a solid performance,' said USA head coach Mike Candrea. 'Although we left eight runners on base, we were able to cash in on some good opportunities.'

In the third, Jessica Mendoza (Camarillo, CA) doubled down the left-field line to score Natasha Watley (Irvine, CA), who started the inning with an infield single and stole one of her two bases on the night.

Nina Lindenberg (Anaheim Hills, CA) led off the bottom of the fourth with a home run down the left-field line for the second score of the game, and Team USA's final run came in the fifth when Lisa Fernandez (Long Beach, CA) singled through the left side of the infield to score Mendoza. Mendoza reached scoring position after drawing a walk and stealing second.

Amanda Freed (Cypress, CA) had the only other hit for the U.S.

Mu Xia went three-for-three for China, while teammate Tao Hua had two hits.

Jennie Finch (La Mirada, CA) went the full seven innings inside the circle for the United States, scattering seven hits while striking out eight and walking three.

'I thought Jennie Finch's performance was very solid tonight given that she hasn't pitched in quite a while, said Candrea. 'They were able to get some runners on but she was able to work out of every situation.'

China's starting pitcher, Zhang Yanqing, took the loss. She worked four innings and gave up two earned runs. Zhang Lixia worked two innings of relief, allowing one hit and one earned run.

The U.S. closes out round-robin play with a 3-1 record, while China went 1-3. Final standings for the round-robin, and the seeding for the playoffs, are: 1. Japan (4-0), 2. USA (3-1), 3. Australia (1-3), 4. Canada (1-3), 5. China (1-3).

The United States will play Japan for the tournament title Sunday at 3 p.m. China will open the playoff action tonight with a game against Canada. The winner of the China-Canada game will face Australia Sunday at 1 p.m. in the bronze medal game.

'We came here to be in the championship game and that's where we are', said Candrea. We look forward to facing Japan again tomorrow in the final game.'

courtesy of USA Softball

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