USA Softball Defeats Japan 1-0 At Women's World Championships

Aug. 3, 2002

Saskatoon, SK, Canada - Teri Goldberg (Ft. Collins, Colo.) delivered a pinch-hit RBI-single in the bottom of the ninth inning to push the United States past Japan 1-0 Saturday night in the playoffs of the Women's World Softball Championship.

'I've known since this tournament started that pinch-hitting was one of my main roles, and I'm just glad I could come through tonight,' Goldberg said.

The United States, which improved to 9-0 at the tournament and is looking to win its fifth consecutive World Championship, earned an automatic berth into Sunday's gold medal game, which will be played at 1:30 p.m. Team USA's opponent won't be decided until Sunday morning, but the three teams vying for the other championship game slot are Japan, China and Chinese Taipei.

'It was a great team effort tonight, from top to bottom,' said USA head coach Mike Candrea (Casa Grande, Ariz.). 'Teri's sitting there waiting for a chance to come into the game and contribute and she cashed in on the opportunity.'

With Michele Smith (Califon, N.J.) starting the bottom of the ninth on second base due to the international tie-breaker, Goldberg hit a high, hard chopper back up the middle of the diamond for a single that allowed Smith to score the game-ending run.

Goldberg's success ended a drought for both teams that saw squandered opportunities throughout the contest. The United States stranded 12 runs on the bases, while Japan countered with seven stranded runners.

The biggest missed opportunity for the U.S. came in the fifth. Laura Berg (Santa Fe Springs, Calif.), Natasha Watley (Irvine, Calif.) and Leah O'Brien-Amico (Chino Hills, Calif.) stroked successive one-out singles, but Berg was thrown out at the plate trying to score on O'Brien-Amico's hit to right field. An ensuing groundout ended the inning.

Counting the runners placed on base during the two extra-innings, Japan worked a runner to at least second base in the seven of the game's nine innings, while the U.S. had a runner on at least second in six of the frames.

On two occasions, the fourth and fifth innings, Japan had a runner standing on third, but was unable to generate a run off U.S. pitcher Lisa Fernandez (Long Beach, Calif.).

'We had a lot of opportunities to score tonight and were unable to cash in on them,' said Fernandez. 'We had to stay positive and wait for our break and it came with Teri's pinch-hit up the middle.'

Fernandez, who went the full duration, as did her counterpart, Hiroko Sakai, picked up her third win of the tournament on a four-hitter with two walks (one intentional) and 10 strikeouts.

Sakai finished with eight hits allowed, three walks and five strikeouts.

Watley and Jessica Mendoza (Camarillo, Calif.) each had two hits for the U.S.

Big hitters for Japan where Noriko Yamaji and Haruka Saito, who each doubled for the only extra-base hits of the game.

'Everyone worked very hard for this win tonight,' Candrea said. 'We've got to carry this momentum into tomorrow's final and finish this championship with a win.'

Game notes: Saturday night's game improved Team USA's overall Women's World Championship (WWC) record to 95-9...the United States improved to 10-1 overall against Japan in WWC competition...utilizing the international tie-breaker, which starts in the top of the eighth inning, the final batter of the previous inning is placed at second base when her team next comes to bat.

courtesy of USA Softball

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