SURREY, B.C., Canada - Former California All-American Valerie Arioto scored one run in the U.S. National Team's 7-4 victory over Canada in the first playoff game of the Canadian Open Saturday evening.
Arioto went 1-for-3, scoring in the bottom of the fourth. She started her trip around the diamond with a base hit, advancing to second on a ground out before Texas' Taylor Thom keyed a double to send Arioto home.
The Americans continue their 6-0 perfect streak at the Canadian Open heading into playoff game No. 2 vs. Japan, which starts at 6:30 p.m. PT Sunday. The winner of that game will advance to the championship game, which will be played at 7:30 p.m. PT on Monday.
Full recap below courtesy of USA Softball:
The USA Softball Women’s National Team will move on to play Japan on day two of the playoff portion of the Canadian Open Fastpitch International Championship on Sunday the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America and USA softball announced today. Team USA used three runs in both the fourth and sixth innings to lock up the win over cross-border rival Canada on Saturday.
As the visiting team on the scoreboard, Canada batted first in the game and took advantage of the opportunity to take an early lead. With two-outs, Jenn Yee took a Sara Nevins (Pinellas Park, Fla.) pitch deep over the fence to make it 1-0 Canada. In the bottom half of the first, Raven Chavanne (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) singled to give Team USA a base runner but fellow Lady Vol alum Lauren Gibson grounded into a 4-3 double play to end the inning.
Both teams went three up, three down in the second and the score remained 1-0 heading into the third inning.
In the bottom of the third an error and hit by pitch gave Team USA two runners but the inning came to a close when Taylor Thom (Cedar Park, Tex.) was thrown out at third for the third out. Canada managed two base runners of their own in the top of the fourth but also failed to convert any runs and the score held.
With one swing of the bat Lauren Gibson (Pasadena, Md.) broke the scoring drought in the bottom of the fourth when she connected on a 2-1 pitch for her second home run of the tournament. Later in the inning, with Amanda Chidester (Allen Park, Mich.) and Valerie Arioto (Pleasanton, Calif.) in scoring position, a Thom double scored both giving the USA a 3-1 lead entering the fifth inning.
Unfortunately for the Americans, the lead was short lived. In the top of the fifth a hit batter and a walk gave Canada two base runners and USA Coach Ken Eriksen decided it was time to change pitchers opting for Jessica Moore (Sutter, Calif.). Moore struck out the first batter she faced but Victoria Haywood doubled in the next at-bat to score both Canadian base runners tying the game at three. In the next at-bat, Jenn Yee singled to bring Hayward home from second helping Canada to reestablish the lead.
USA started the bottom of the fifth with leadoff hitter Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) at the plate. Moultrie, who is typically known more for her slapping and speed than home runs, showed her versatility with a solo homer to tie the game up for the third time on the night.
Another three up, three down inning for Canada in the sixth sent the 4-4 tie into the bottom half of the inning. Determined to break the knotted score, Amber Freeman (Lakewood, Calif.) singled to put a USA base runner onboard and in the next at-bat Thom doubled to score the run and break the tie. Later in the at-bat a passed ball allowed Thom to come around to third and a wild pitch shortly after brought her home to give Team USA a 6-4 advantage. The scoring didn’t end there however, minutes later Chavanne singled to score Moultrie pushing the lead to 7-4. When the inning was finally complete Canada found themselves trailing and down to their final at-bat to get back into the game.
Nevins returned to the circle to start the seventh for Team USA and earned the win by closing out the game with three strikeouts. The lefty finished the contest with 5.1 innings pitched, allowing just four runs and recording eight strikeouts.
With the win, Team USA moves to 6-0 in the Canadian Open Fastpitch International Championship and will now face a resurgent Japan team that won back-to-back 7-0 games earlier on Saturday. Japanese ace pitcher Yukiko Ueno pitched both games on Saturday and recorded no hitters in each. You can follow all of tomorrow’s action live by visiting www.USASoftball.com.