OKLAHOMA CITY – The United States began the World Cup of Softball with a dominant 7-2 victory over the Czech Republic Thursday.
Team USA started the game's scoring in the second inning, when Rhea Taylor drove home two runs with a triple. She scored after a single in the next at-bat by Kelly Grieve for a quick 3-0 lead.
That began a stretch of three consecutive innings in which Team USA scored. It added two runs in the third before the Czech Republic got on the board in the fourth.
After back-to-back singles to start the inning, a wild pitch gave the Czech Republic runners on second and third with nobody out. An RBI groundout and suicide squeeze followed in the next two at-bats for a two-run inning, but that was the extent of the Czech Republic's offense.
Team USA added another run in the bottom of the fourth and another in the sixth to finish the scoring. Team USA starter Whitney Canion allowed just three hits in five innings of work, and reliever Chelsea Thomas pitched two perfect innings while striking out four of the six batters she retired.
The offensive production for the US came from the top of the order, with the first three batters combining for five RBIs. Stacy May-Johnson led the way with three hits, including the game's only home run.
The University of Oklahoma's Keilani Ricketts and Jessica Shults both were on hand, but neither saw much action. Ricketts stayed in the dugout, while Shults acted as a defensive replacement at catcher late in the game and never stepped to the plate.
The United States now will move on to face Australia in its second game at 7 p.m. Friday. Australia defeated Great Britain 7-1 in its first-round game.