United States Wins Gold At Pan-Am Games
After falling to Canada 3–2 on Friday, the United States needed to win two games on Saturday to win gold.
Behind two complete games from Monica Abbott, the USA Softball Women’s National Team beat Puerto Rico and Canada by scores of 3–1 to clinch its ninth Pan-American Games gold.
“Monica Abbott put the team on her back today,” said WNT Head Coach, Ken Eriksen in a press release. “She threw 14 innings, two complete games…she was a bulldog. All her training, both her physical and mental training, paid off when it needed to today. I was very impressed with the maturity level of the team. We didn’t let the little things get to us. We might not have been the most comfortable at the plate. We might not have been the most comfortable coming through the bronze medal game to capture the gold, but the one thing we were was steady in our emotions. That bodes well.”
The win improved the United States’ overall Pan-Am Games record to 100–5, and five athletes (Cat Osterman, Abbott, Valerie Arioto, Michelle Moultrie and Keilani Ricketts) now have multiple gold medals to their name. Osterman is now a three-time gold medalist at the Pan-Am Games.
“We didn’t go crazy and dogpile after we won the gold today,” Eriksen added in the release. “It’s not that we didn’t expect to win, we did expect to win. It’s not that we thought it was a surprise that we won and were over-celebratory. This is still a part of the climb of where we’re trying to go to in 2020, and this was a part of the journey.”
After surrendering a solo home run to Jena Cozza (UMass ‘18) in the top of the second, the U.S. took a 2–1 lead in the bottom half of the inning. Rachel Garcia doubled and Kirsti Merritt singled before Aubree Munro singled them both in.
Janie Reed pushed the insurance run across in the bottom of the fourth.
Abbott struck out 11 in the contest and gave up one run on three hits to send the U.S. into the gold medal game against Canada.
Moultrie and Holly Speers (Kent State '18) exchanged solo home runs to open the scoring, but it was Moultrie who came through again in the bottom of the sixth.
The veteran outfielder singled in Merritt to give the U.S. a 2–1 lead, and then Spaulding scored the final run late on an error in the sixth inning to solidify the win.
Abbott allowed one run on four hits and struck out 10.
“It was great to see us come out and win the gold,” said Abbott in the press release. “We knew we had to come out and beat Puerto Rico, which we knew was going to be a tough game. That was our path to get a chance for the gold again against Canada, who gave us a tough time yesterday. I’m really just proud of this team and how we came together, both offensively and defensively, and made plays when we needed to.”
Haylie McCleney led all batters with a .609 batting average (14-for-23), a 1.043 slugging percentage, nine runs scored and tied for the lead in home runs with three.
The team with take a 10-day break before returning to Iwakuni, Japan for a training camp ahead of the Japan Cup. Team USA will compete against Japan, Chinese Taipei and the Czech Republic beginning Aug. 30.