• Americans’ bats wake up as they win a spot in final

By Scott Moore

Transcript Sports Writer

OKLAHOMA CITY — Vicky Galindo has the distinction of being the first player to ever hit a grand slam home run in the World Cup of Softball.

So call her Grand Slam Galindo.

“OK. That sounds good,” Galindo said. “I just come in an play my hardest and hopefully everything works out.”

Everything worked out well for the Americans Saturday as they secured a spot in Monday’s Gold Medal game with a pair of run-rule victories at ASA’s Hall of Fame Stadium. Early in the day, Team U.S.A. routed China 11-3, then topped Japan in the nightcap 7-0. Both contests lasted 41/2 innings.

Galindo was a big part of the offensive explosion. She went a combined 4-for-5 with seven RBIs, including a two-run double against China and the grand slam in the bottom of the first against Japan, giving the Americans a 5-0 lead.

Standing 5-feet, 4-inches, and maybe weighing as much as the bat she swings, Galindo’s slam was to dead centerfield. And it wasn’t her first — she hit one as a junior at California.

“It’s definitely not something I do all the time,” Galindo said. “It was pretty exciting for me.”

As a senior, she batted .324 this past spring at Cal, with 11 doubles and four homers. In her first international tournament appearance earlier this summer, she hit .889.

As a team, the Americans collected 22 hits in Saturday’s two games. Stacey Nuveman, a player everyone expects to hit with power, went a combined 3-for-4 with two homers. She had a mammoth shot against China that hit a camera tower down the left-field line, then slammed another solo shot to left against Japan.

The type of offensive day Team U.S.A. displayed Saturday was a welcome site after the Americans struggled at the plate in their first two games. The Americans lost to Canada 2-1 in Thursday’s opener, then beat Australia 3-1 Friday. They managed just five hits in each of those games.

After losing to Australia, Team U.S.A. coach Mike Candrea predicted that one big win was all his players needed to get things rolling.

“I think we’re just settling down now,” Galindo said. “We were a little anxious and nervous in that first game. I think now we’re just playing the way we’re capable of playing.”

The Americans jumped on Japan early, getting five runs in the first inning. Kellie Wilkerson and Natasha Watley were both 2-for-3 in that game.

In the circle, Jennie Finch was dominant, allowing just two hits and striking out eight with no walks in five innings.

Against China, the Americans set the tone with five runs in the second inning, including a three-run homer from Jessica Mendoza and a one-run triple by Vicky Galindo.

Galindo and Mendoza led Team U.S.A. with three RBIs apiece. Galindo was 2-for-2, and Mendoza 2-for-3.

China scored three in the fourth to cut the lead to 8-3, but the Americans responded with three of their own in the bottom of that inning, including Nuveman’s two-run homer.

Monica Abbott picked up the win, allowing two runs on two hits, while striking out five in three innings.

Team U.S.A.’s opponent in Monday’s title game will be decided today. China will play Canada at 1 p.m., followed by Australia and Japan at 3.

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