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Team USA Bounces Back, Advances To International Cup Final

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(Photo courtesy of USA Softball)

COLUMBUS, Ga. — After a Friday night loss that saw the Americans fall to Japan for the third time this summer, Team USA got back on track on Saturday at the USA Softball International Cup. With convincing wins over Mexico and Puerto Rico on the last day of pool play at the tournament, the U.S. clinched a spot in Sunday's final versus the Japanese.

In their first game of the day at South Commons Softball Complex, the Americans took down Mexico, 7–0, via the mercy rule behind a stellar outing from starter Rachel Garcia.

After a scoreless first inning, Team USA's bats came to life in the bottom of the second, as a lead-off bunt single from Michelle Moultrie and a walk to Dejah Mulipola set the stage for Haylie McCleney, who cranked a three-run home run off of Mexican starter Dallas Escobedo. Valerie Arioto followed suit with a monster two-run bomb later in the frame to extend Team USA's lead to 5–0.

A double from Delaney Spaulding in the fifth drove in Moultrie, which increased Team USA's advantage to 6–0. Garcia ended the game in the sixth with a RBI single that scored McCleney and gave the U.S. a mercy-rule victory.

McCleney, who went 3-for-3 in the game, finished a triple short of the cycle against Mexico, while Garcia, who earned the win, struck out eight and gave up just one hit in four innings of work. Escobedo surrendered four hits in the loss.

In their second contest on Saturday, the Americans bested Puerto Rico, 7–0. Team USA starter Monica Abbott was nearly untouchable in the win, giving up just two hits and striking out nine in five innings.

To open the scoring against Pueto Rico and its starter, Meghan King, Arioto blasted her second home run of the day—and fifth of the tournament—to give her squad a 2–0 lead in the bottom of the first. Team USA added three more runs in the bottom of the fourth with RBIs from Moultrie, McCleney and Kirsti Merritt, which gave the U.S. a 5–0 lead. The game ended via the mercy rule yet again for Team USA when Aubree Munro hit a two-RBI single in the bottom of the fifth.

On Sunday, the Americans will look to avenge their loss to Japan from Friday and capture their second straight title at the International Cup.

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