U.S. improves to 3-0 at softball worlds

CARACAS, Venezuela -- The United States improved to 3-0 in the world softball championships with two victories on Friday -- a 12-2 win over New Zealand and a 7-0 victory over Venezuela.

Pitcher Eileen Canney made her first appearance for the United States, leading the Americans past New Zealand.

The U.S. has won this tournament six straight times but is expected to be challenged by Olympic champion Japan, with Australia, Canada, China and Venezuela also in the mix.

The U.S. scored six runs in each of the second and third innings and the game was stopped in the fourth inning because of the mercy rule.

Canney picked up the victory, allowing four hits and two earned runs while striking out five.

"I get nervous before every game but this one was definitely up there," she said. "I was really nervous at the beginning, but I began to settle down and realized I had such great support around me. That really helped calm my nerves."

Alissa Haber had two hits and two RBIs and scored twice for the U.S. Charlene Cartwright was the losing pitcher.

Monica Abbott was the winning pitcher for the U.S. in the second game, allowing one hit and striking out eight in the five-inning game. Johana Gomez was the losing pitcher for Venezuela.

Japan won its third straight game, defeating the Netherlands 4-0.

In other Friday games: Canada 5, Taiwan 2; Dominican Republic 6, Botswana 0; Cuba 10, South Africa 1; Czech Republic 6, New Zealand 5; Taiwan 3, Britain 0; Australia 2, China 0. Canada's second game on Friday against Argentina was rained out.

The tournament ends July 2.