OKLAHOMA CITY – Team USA made use of a costly error late in the game to beat Australia 5-2 Friday and win its second game of the World Cup of Softball.
Team USA stepped to the plate in the bottom of the sixth with the score tied 2-2. Two of its first three batters in the inning grounded out, but it was that third batter that ended up making all the difference.
Stacy May-Johnson reached base on a fielding error, and after the next batter grounded out that should have ended the inning. But instead Team USA got a second life, and made the most of it.
After an intentional walk, Valeria Arioto delivered what turned out to be the game-winning hit with a two-run triple. Taylor Hoagland drove Arioto home with a single in the next at-bat, giving the US a three-run lead with three unearned runs in the blink of an eye.
Oklahoma pitcher Keilani Ricketts had a chance to close things out in the seventh and retired the first two batters of the frame. But after a walk and single brought the tying run to the plate, she was replaced by Chelsea Thomas, who struck out the only batter she faced to end the game.
The starting pitchers dominated the beginning of the contest, but Team USA opened the scoring in the fourth inning. Stacy May-Johnson and Brittany Schutte each drove in runs to take a 2-0 lead.
Australia cut that lead in half with an RBI single by Clare Warwick in the next half-inning, and Team USA entered the sixth inning up 2-1.
After back-to-back singles in the sixth, Team USA pulled its starter in favor of Ricketts. She allowed an RBI single to pinch hitter Jodie Stevenson, the first batter she faced who faked a bunt and instead pulled back for a full swing.
The run that scored on the play tied the game at 2-2 with two runners still on base. But Ricketts recovered for a strikeout and groundout against the next batters to keep the US from falling behind and set up the big bottom half of the inning.
Ricketts ended up earning a win thanks to the support from her offense. She was not credited with any runs in 1.1 innings of work. Jordan Taylor came away with a no decision despite holding Australia to two runs – only one earned – on seven hits in 5.1 innings.
Team USA now has won both of its first two games of the World Cup of Softball, and will face Japan in its next action at 8 p.m. Saturday in Oklahoma City.