A bases-clearing double from Tiffany Huff in the fourth inning broke open a close game as the United States advanced Thursday in the medal round at the Junior Women’s World Championships with a 6-2 win over Venezuela.
“I think this game helps us get back in the swing of things where you have to make adjustments at the plate and do some things to be successful,” said head coach Jay Miller. “I’m frustrated with leaving 12 runners on base. We had a lot of opportunities to break things open early, but we didn’t. On the other hand, we gave ourselves ample opportunities to win and we did. We got good, solid pitching from Ashley and Megan and got the big hits when we needed them.”
The USA jumped out to an early lead by scoring two runs in the first inning. Maggie Viefhaus drove in Alissa Haber with a single down the left field line and a single by Neena Bryant drove in Viefhaus.
Venezuela cut the lead in half in the third inning, scoring an unearned run on throwing error by Monica Harrison.
The game remained a one-run contest until the USA scored four runs in the fourth inning to put the out of reach. Harrison’s infield single plated Ashley Hansen and then Huff came through with a double to deep left field to drive in Brittany Lastrapes, Bryant and Harrison to make it 6-1. Venezuela added another unearned run in the sixth inning to account for the final score.
Ashley Brignac improved to 3-0 in the tournament with 5.0 innings of solid work. She allowed two unearned runs on two hits while walking one and striking out 10. Megan Elliott came into the game in the sixth inning and shut the door on the Venezuelans, pitching two innings of shutout ball. She allowed just one hit while striking out four.
At the plate, Huff had two hits and three RBI while both Viefhaus and Bryant had two hits and an RBI. Lastrapes, Hansen and Harrison added a hit apiece.
“Today was a big win to stay out of the loser’s side,” Miller said. “Now, we’re sitting in a pretty good situation. Tomorrow gives us a good opportunity to feel the other team out, and see where we’re at, because the odds are whoever we see tomorrow, we’ll see Saturday. But we want to give ourselves an opportunity to play for the gold and that continues tomorrow.”
The Red, White and Blue, now 8-0, advances to play defending world champion Japan Friday at 5:30 pm local time, 10:30 am Central. The winner will move on to Saturday’s gold medal game while the loser will have to play in the bronze medal game on Saturday morning for the right to play in the gold medal game.