USA Softball Opens With Three Wins at World Championships

July 28, 2002

Saskatoon, SK, Canada - Natasha Watley has provided two key RBI and several runs scored during the first weekend of play at the 2002 Women's World Championship, as USA Softball has opened tournament play with a 2-0 win over Italy on Friday, a 13-0 five-inning win over the Czech Republic on Saturday and a 4-0 win over host Canada on Sunday.

Watley went 3-for-5 with three RBI and two runs scored in USA's first two games of the tournament. Five other Bruins have played during the tournament. Highlights for former UCLA players include a 2-for-2, two RBI game for Stacey Nuveman against the Czech Republic; a 1-for-2, one RBI game for Lisa Fernandez against the Czech Republic. Three other Bruins, Lyndsey Klein, Tairia Mims and Amanda Freed have also seen action, with Klein having a run scored, Mims having a 1-for-1, one RBI game, and Freed posting a 1-for-2, two run scored, one RBI contest. Freed also had a run scored against Canada. Game recaps for the Czech Republic and Italy games follow.

USA improves to 2-0 at Women's World Championship with 13-0 win over Czech Republic

Saskatoon, SK, Canada-- After a slow start, the United States opened up its offense and improved to 2-0 at the Women's World Championship with a 13-0 win over the Czech Republic (0-2) Saturday evening at Bob Van Impe Stadium.

Lori Harrigan (Las Vegas, Nev.) threw a two-hitter with eight strikeouts and no walks allowed to pickup the victory in a game that was shortened to five innings due to the mercy-rule. With the win, Harrigan improves to 5-0 all-time in World Championship play, and she hasn't allowed a run in the combined 29 innings she has pitched.

Leading just 1-0 after two innings, the U.S.scored eight runs in the bottom of the third and four in the bottom of the fourth to force the mercy-rule.

'I thought we showed a lot of discipline tonight at the plate,' said USA head coach Mike Candrea. 'After starting off slow, our team made adjustments with each at-bat. As long as we continue to make those adjustments, we can be a very good offensive team.'

Team USA tallied ten hits for the game, with nine players recording safe hits. Stacey Nuveman (La Verne, Calif.), who went 2-for-2, was the lone player to post a multi-hit game.

It was Nuveman's first hit, a double in the bottom of the first, that opened the game's scoring. With two outs and Natasha Watley (Irvine, Calif.) on second, Nuveman lofted a ball to right field that fell in and allowed Watley to score.

In the wild-and-wooly third, Nuveman, Lisa Fernandez (Long Beach, Calif.) and Amanda Freed (Cypress, Calif.) all had RBI-singles, while Lovieanne Jung (Fountain Valley, Calif.) added a sacrifice fly. The final three runs of the frame came on a string of three wild pitches that eventually cleared a bases-loaded scenario for the USA.

Michele Smith (Califon, N.J.) highlighted the fourth inning with an opposite field two-run home run that cleared the fence in left-center. It was the first home run of the tournament for the U.S., and it also scored Tairia Mims (Tucson, Ariz.), who had started the inning with a stand-up double down the left-field line. An error on a ball hit by Watley produced the remaining two runs.

Katerina Dvorekova and Eliska Pojerova had the hits, both singles, for the Czech Republic. Lucie Marsikova, the starting pitcher, took the loss.

'We've got to come out tomorrow [against host Canada] and play with a lot of emotion,' said Candrea. 'Canada will be fired up to play in front of their home crowd.'

USA Softball downs Italy2-0 to open World Championship competition

Saskatoon, SK, Canada-- The United States opened its bid for a fifth straight Women's World Championship by defeating Italy2-0 Friday afternoon at Bob Van Impe Stadium.

Team USA scored all of its runs with two outs in the bottom of the fourth. With one out, Nina Lindenberg (Anaheim Hills, Calif.), Lovieanne Jung (Fountain Valley, Calif.) and Laura Berg (Santa Fe Springs, Calif.) hit consecutive singles to load the bases. After a force-out at the plate, Natasha Watley (Irvine, Calif.) singled up the middle to score both Jung and Berg for the game's only runs.

'I just wanted to get the ball through the infield and score at least one run,' Watley said. 'Fortunately, I got the pitch I wanted and was able to drive it.'

Watley finished the game with two hits, while Berg went 3-for-3. As a team, the United States rapped out eight hits.

Lisa Fernandez (Long Beach, Calif.) picked up the complete-game win, as she scattered five hits, issued one walk and struck out six.

Leslie Malerich, who also pitched a complete game, took the loss for Italy.

Italy seemed on the verge of taking a lead in the top of the third inning, but Berg orchestrated a double-play from center field that stopped the rally. With one out and runners on first and second, Marta Gambello sent a deep shot to center that forced Berg into a full-out dive to make the catch. After making the catch, Berg was able to get up, spin and make a throw to third for the out on the Team Italy runner trying to tag from second.

'Obviously, I'm very pleased to open this championship with a win over a very good Italian team,' said USAhead coach Mike Candrea. 'I knew that Italy was going to come right at us and I thought Lisa did a great job of battling throughout the game.'

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