SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – With a grand slam in the first inning, California’s Valerie Arioto once again led the U.S. Women’s National Team to victory Saturday at the Pan American Games Qualifier. The Red, White and Blue produced a commanding 16-0 victory in three innings over Aruba.
The Eagles wasted no time putting runs on the board. With one run already in and three runners on at the bottom of the first, Arioto cleared the bases with a strong shot over the fence for a 5-0 score. She was one of three Team USA players to homer in the first. By the end of the first, the U.S. led Aruba 11-0.
Arioto also drew a walk in a later plate appearance to finish 1-for-2 with four RBI and a run scored.
Golden Bear teammate Lindsey Ziegenhirt did not enter Saturday’s game.
The U.S. continues round-robin play with a game against Brazil beginning at 8:30 a.m. PT.
Full recap below courtesy of USA Softball:
The USA Softball Women’s National opened the Pan American Games Qualifier in dominant fashion with decisive 16-0 victory in three innings over Aruba. The U.S. moves to 1-0 in round-robin play and will return to action tomorrow morning at 11:30 a.m. EST against Brazil.
Winning pitcher Sara Nevins (Pineallas Park, Fla.) recorded a solid performance from circle for the Red, White and Blue tossing two complete innings with three strikeouts and allowing no hits. Aimee Creger (Yukon, Okla.) entered in the top of the third to close out the game, striking out two and giving up no hits.
From the plate the U.S. recorded 16 runs on 16 hits and was led by Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) who was 3-for-3 with three RBI. Team USA also combined for three home runs, including a grand slam by Valerie Arioto (Pleasanton, Calif.) in the first inning. Taylor Hoagland (Flower Mound, Texas) and Kourtney Salvarola (Arnold, Md.) also sent the long ball over the fence.
To lead the first inning, speedster Moultrie beat out a base hit bunt for a single, then advanced to second on another infield single by Raven Chavanne (Thousand Oaks, Calif.). Lauren Gibson (Pasadena, Md.) then connected for a double to score Moultrie. Amanda Chidester (Allen Park, Mich.) then reached base on an error by the first baseman to load the bases for Arioto. With an 0-1 count, Arioto sent a shot out of the park to clear the bases and put the U.S. up 5-0.
The scoring continued as two batters later, Hoagland sent a shot over left field fence, scoring Lauren Chamberlain (Trabuco Canyon, Calif.) who reached base on a single. The U.S. would add four more runs in the bottom of the first to push their lead to 11-0.
Nevins retired Aruba's offense with three strikeouts to bring the U.S. back to the plate in the bottom of the second. Salvarola started the U.S. bats with a solo home run and was followed by a Destinee Martinez (Corona, Calif.) single. Moultrie then hit a triple to plate Martinez and record her third RBI of the day. Nicole Hudson (Webb City, Mo.) and Taylor Thom (Cedar Park, Texas) hit back-to-back singles before Chamberlain hit a two-run single to give the U.S. a comfortable 16-0 lead.
Creger entered in the top of the third for Nevins to close the game for the Red, White and Blue. A hit-by-pitch gave Aruba their only base runner of the game, but Creger bounced back to record two strikeouts and a groundout to end the game via run-rule after three innings.
Up next for the U.S. is a matchup against Brazil tomorrow morning at 11:30 a.m. EST. Live stats and online streaming (pay-per-view) will be available throughout the Pan American Games Qualifier and links can be found at USASoftball.com. A complete pool play schedule is below.