Yokohama, Japan --- On a cold, rainy afternoon at Yokohama Stadium, the USA Softball Women’s National Team completed its perfect season with a 7-0 win over Japan in the finals of the Japan Cup to secure the U.S. its third tournament title of the year.
Monica Abbott was dominating in the circle for the U.S., allowing only two hits while striking out five in five innings of work. The win was the second of the Japan Cup for the senior from the University of Tennessee and her first over Japan.
The U.S. jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Natasha Watley led off with a single and moved to second on a Jessica base hit. A double by Jenny Topping scored Watley to give the United States a 1-0 lead. Kelly Kretschman and Andrea Duran capped the opening frame with RBI singles that pushed the American lead 3-0.
The U.S. followed that initial outburst with a two-run second. Watley and Mendoza both reached after being hit by a pitch, and Crystl Bustos and Kretschman both delivered base hits to score the duo and extend the lead to 5-0.
Japan starter Yuko Endo was pulled in the middle of the second inning in favor of Mariko Masubuchi, who was able to end the rally and hold the U.S. scoreless until the fifth inning., when the U.S. got its offense back on track and was able to score the runs it needed to end the game in five innings.
Tairia Flowers reached on a walk and moved into scoring position when Laura Berg singled. Watley singled to load the bases, and Mendoza laced a base hit that allowed Flowers and Berg to score the final two runs of the game for the Red, White and Blue.
Watley, Mendoza, Kretschman and Berg were all clutch at the plate, going 2-for-3.
Bustos was named as the tournament’s Most Valuable Player while Mendoza won the “Best Hitter Award”.