SOUTH SURREY, B.C. — Starting pitcher Jennie Finch no-hit Team Japan for four innings and former Tennessee hurler Monica Abbott struck out five over three frames of relief to close out the U.S. National Team’s title-winning 5-0 triumph over Japan on Sunday evening at the Canada Cup in South Surrey, British Columbia, Canada. The Americans completed the event at a perfect 10-0 while outscoring their opposition, 96-2.
Third baseman Crystal Bustos went 2-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored while right fielder Kelly Kretschman delivered a perfect 3-for-3 effort with two RBI and a pair of runs to lead the Red, White & Blue’s 11-hit offensive assault. First baseman Tairia Flowers was 3-for-4 with an RBI to wrap up her stay at the event at .650 (13- of-20) with 10 RBI to pick up Most Valuable Player honors.
Finch was chosen as the tournament’s top pitcher after going 3-0, while Abbott also wrapped up her Canada Cup at 3-0 with 22 Ks in 12.2 innings of work while allowing just seven hits. A 6-3 left-hander from Salinas, Calif., Abbott defeated Chinese Taipei (10-1, five inn.) and powerful Japan (7-0, five inn.) as a starter and the Japan Elite (1-0) in relief.
Facing the archrival Japanese in the Canada Cup championship game, Team USA struck first on the scoreboard in the top of the second. Kretschman drew a one-out walk off Japan hurler Naho Emoto, advanced to second on a passed ball charged to catcher Yuka Suzuki and scored on a single to left field by Flowers.
After the Red, White & Blue offense stranded runners on base in the third, fourth and fifth innings, the Americans added to their advantage in the sixth with another run on a solo homer to right center by Bustos. The U.S. loaded the bases with none retired as Kretschman, Flowers and pinch hitter Vicky Galindo all singled. A fielder’s choice that forced the lead runner at home plate, and consecutive fly outs by designated player Lauren Lappin and pinch hitter Andrea Duran left all three stranded on the basepaths as Team USA missed a golden chance to add to its 2-0 lead.
The wasted scoring opportunity didn’t matter with Abbott in firm control in the circle. In the top of the seventh, Mika Someya entered to pitch in relief for Japan and allowed three runs on four hits. With one down in the frame, left-fielder Jessica Mendoza doubled to left center and later scored on a single to center by Bustos to make it 3-0. Kretschman followed immediately with a two-run blast to right as the Americans improved the count to 5-0.
Despite hitting first baseman Sachiko Ito with a one-out pitch, Abbott completed the title win by striking out left-fielder Satoko Mabuchi, third baseman Megu Hirose and designated player Rie Sato.
Next up for the U.S. National Team will be the KFC World Cup of Softball at the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, Okla., over July 12-16. During the event, the Americans will take on Argentina, Canada, China, the Dominican Republic, Japan and Venezuela.