OKLAHOMA CITY - Eight hits, including two by California’s Valerie Arioto, were not enough for the U.S. National Team to topple reigning International Softball Federation World Champion Japan Saturday at the World Cup of Softball at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City. Japan defeated Team USA 7-4 to hand the Eagles their first loss of the season.
Along with Arioto, Golden Bear Lindsey Ziegenhirt earned her first career start for the Eagles as catcher in a game highlighted by three different Team USA pitchers.
First baseman Arioto went 2-for-3, starting her night off with an RBI single to plate Florida’s Michelle Moultrie at the bottom of the first. She added a hit at the bottom of the fifth with another single. Arioto leads the Americans in batting average with a .571 (4-for-7) through three games. Ziegenhirt went 0-for-3 after working the plate with two full-count batting appearances. Defensively, she registered five putouts to bring the Golden Bear total to 14 on the evening.
A win over Puerto Rico on Sunday afternoon would send the U.S. to Sunday evening’s championship game. USA vs. Puerto Rico will begin at 10 a.m. PT on ESPN. The title game will air live at 6 p.m. on ESPN2.