OKLAHOMA CITY — On a hot and humid night, with American bats taking the night off, Team USA turned to Jessica Moore. Even though most of the talk surrounding the team had been about which pitcher wasn’t there, Moore proved that the Americans are still in good hands.
The Sutter, Calif. native shut down Australia to lead Team USA to a 4-0 victory Friday at Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City. The win, her first of the tournament, gave USA a 2-0 record at the World Cup of Softball.
“I was mixing speeds pretty well,” Moore said. “I threw some pretty good change-ups. They kind of had that in the back of their minds, I think. I did an OK job of hitting my spots. So I was able to get them out and kept them guessing on which side of the plate I was going to throw to. It worked out in my favor tonight. I felt like I had a pretty good outing for my first win.”
Moore pitched seven strong innings, allowing only one hit in the shutout. The Aussies had no answer for what she was doing on the mound.
However, Moore was aided by a disciplined defense in the infield that scooped up everything that came into its area.
“I think our defense did a fantastic job as well,” Lauren Gibson said. “Jessica really made it easy for us. Just being able to get ground balls and help us get outs. That’s what helped a lot.”
Team USA bats got going in the bottom of the second when Amanda Chidester led off the inning with a double. Valerie Arioto was walked, which put two runners on base and no outs. Australia’s Vanessa Stokes pitched her way out of the jam by getting three straight groundouts to end the threat.
However, Stokes was not so fortunate in the third inning. Once again the Americans put a pair of runners on base with no outs. This time Gibson hit a bloop single to right that scored two runs. Arioto added an RBI double to give the U.S. a 3-0 advantage and chase Stokes out of the game.
Aimee Murch replaced Stokes on the mound for Australia. Murch walked the Sooners’ Lauren Chamberlain before giving up an RBI single to Nicole Hudson that put USA up 4-0.
“We keep fighting,” Gibson said. “We never give up. There are a bunch of teams that might give up when they are not getting hits.”
Australia finally got something going in the top of the fourth when Moore walked consecutive batters. Both Chelsea Forkin and C.C. Webber had an opportunity to put a dent into the Americans’ four-run lead with a hit. But Moore fanned Forkin and got Webber to hit into a force out.
“Pitching and defense,” USA coach Ken Eriksen said. “That has always been the basis of our entire system at USA softball. I thought Jessica Moore did a phenomenal job tonight of getting out of two bad situations. If you get a pitching performance like that, keep them at zeros for as long as possible and give your team an opportunity to score, that always helps.”
The USA squad will look to remain undefeated when it takes on Japan at 8 p.m. today.
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