U.S. routs China, Australia at World Cup of Softball

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The offense was already scoring big long before Crystl Bustos' long ball. She just put the finishing touches on another dominant showing by the United States.

Bustos homered and drove in five runs as the United States jumped on China for a 10-run first inning in a 14-0 win Saturday night at the World Cup of Softball.

Caitlin Lowe scored twice and had two of her three infield singles in the first inning, when the U.S. team sent 15 batters to the plate against three Chinese pitchers.

The United States (4-0), which has won all three Olympic softball gold medals, has outscored opponents 43-1 in this year's World Cup after losing twice in last year's event. The United States gets a rematch Sunday with Japan, which beat the U.S. team in the final last year.

"We really have that bitter taste in our mouth from losing to them last year and we really just want to come out and put them out early," Lowe said. "We have been waiting all year for this game."

Liu Zongxia allowed the first five batters to reach base, and all eventually scored. Zhou Yin came on and got Andrea Duran to line out to second. Tairia Flowers then popped up, but the ball landed along the foul line about 15 feet beyond first base between two China fielders.

More mistakes by the Chinese (0-4) kept the rally going. Lovieanne Jung walked to force in a run, and -- after a two-run double by Laura Berg -- center fielder Zhou Yi broke in on Natasha Watley's fly ball and allowed it to roll to the wall for a run-scoring triple.

With the crowd chanting "U-S-A," Watley then scored on Jessica Mendoza's sacrifice fly to make it 10-0.

"Our bats have been hot. I think we've just been hitting it right at people," Lowe said. "I think everybody just broke through in the same inning."

Wang Lan entered to stop the U.S. rally and pitched three scoreless innings before running into trouble in the fifth. Vicky Galindo added an RBI single and Bustos, who set the Olympic record with five home runs in Athens in 2004, powered a three-run blast over the center-field wall to stretch the U.S. lead to 14-0.

"Our bats have been coming alive since Day One, which is really good," Bustos said. "As long as we can keep them going, we should be all right."

The U.S. team's dominance has been reminiscent of the Athens Games, when the Americans outscored opponents 51-1 on their way to the gold medal.

"When this team gets going offensively, it's pretty powerful," U.S. coach Mike Candrea said.

Monica Abbott (2-0) gave up one hit and struck out four in three innings. Jennie Finch pitched two scoreless innings of relief before the game was called because of the run rule.

Earlier in the day, Mendoza drove in four runs and Topping added a two-run single to help the United States beat Australia 9-0 in another five-inning game.

The U.S. team took advantage of three Australia errors to score four runs in the third and five in the fourth.

Cat Osterman (1-0) gave up three hits and struck out six. She retired the first nine batters she faced.

The United States loaded the bases in the fourth without hitting the ball out of the infield. Australia shortstop Natalie Ward mishandled Berg's grounder to start the inning, and Lowe beat Ward's throw to first for an infield single. Another fielding error by Ward allowed Watley to reach, and Mendoza cleared the bases with a double to the gap in left center to make it 7-0.

Bustos and Galindo added RBI singles for the United States.

"A couple errors at crucial times, and they're such a quality team that if you open the door for them, they'll slam it open," Australia coach Fabian Barlow said.

Mendoza had a sacrifice fly in the third, when a throwing error by Australia pitcher Kelly Gentle (1-1) opened the door to four runs. Duran added an RBI single, and Topping had a two-run bloop single down the left-field line.

Australia (2-1), which won the silver medal at the Athens Olympics in 2004, loaded the bases in the fifth on singles by Tracey Mosley and Ward and a walk by Amanda Doman, but Osterman struck out Wright to end the threat and the game.

Japan 5, Australia 4

In Japan's second game of the day, Eri Yamada again played the
hero, going 3-for-4 with two RBIs and scoring twice.

Yamada's two-run homer in the sixth inning gave Japan a 5-3
lead. Australia's Danielle Stewart homered to lead off the seventh,
but Yukiko Ueno retired the next three batters to pick up her
second win of the tournament.

Belinda Wright's two-run double keyed a three-run third inning
for Australia (3-1), but Japan scored once in the third and tied
the game in the fifth on a two-run home run by Mikiko Tanaka.

Japan 7, Britain 6
Eri Yamada hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth to cap defending champion Japan's comeback from a five-run deficit.

Stacie Townsend had a two-run double and Sarah Lockett homered in a five-run third inning that put Britain (0-3) ahead 5-1.

Japan (3-0) rallied from a 6-2 deficit with Masumi Mishina's two-run homer in the fifth and three runs in the sixth.

Canada 3, China 1
Pinch hitter Tamra Howren doubled in the go-ahead run and scored in a three-run sixth inning for Canada.

Wu Di drove in the only run for China (0-3) on a squeeze bunt in the top of the fifth.

Jennifer Salling and Angela Lichty also had RBI singles for Canada (1-2).