In preparation for the Tokyo Olympics, the Team Italy women's softball team travels to the USSSA Space Coast Complex in Viera, Florida for an exhibition game against USA on April 21, 2021 at 5 pm (ET). Fans will be allowed to attend at a limited capacity with social distancing encouraged while inside the ballpark. Attendance is free to the public with gates opening at 4 p.m. Follow the live play-by-play stats by clicking HERE and watch the live stream by clicking HERE.
Top-ranked USA, second-ranked Japan, third-ranked Canada, fifth-ranked Mexico, eighth-ranked Australia, and 10th-ranked Team Italy will compete for the Gold Medal in Japan. Team Italy and USA will play each other in their first game of the international competition on July 21, 2021 at 12 noon (local time). Just 90 days away from the first pitch in Japan, today's exhibition game against USA is a preview of what to expect from the softball powerhouse.
To say that USA has the home team advantage in Viera is an understatement. Already in their fourth training camp of the 2021 season, the Americans have put together a perfect 7-0 record and have outscored their opponents 50-6 during those seven contests. Having swept a pair of three-game series against Mexico and University of South Florida as well as shut out collegiate powerhouse University of Florida last month at the Eddie C. Moore Softball Complex in Clearwater, Florida, USA is firing on all cylinders. In contrast, Team Italy arrives on foreign soil having completed two training camps prior to touching down due to the ongoing pandemic abroad. The upcoming exhibition game against USA is the first opportunity for Team Italy to compete in live action.
USA beat Mexico 4-2 in game one of the three-game set on March 8, 2021. Starter Keilani Ricketts held Mexico scoreless for three innings before being relieved by Randi Rupp and Ally Carda. USA’s offense was fueled by a home run by Amanda Chidester, a pair of hits from both Kelsey Stewart and Janie Reed as well as hits by Taylor Edwards and Michelle Moultrie.
USA knocked out Mexico in a mercy-rule 7-0 shutout on March 9, 2021. Ace Cat Osterman surrendered just two hits and registered eight strikeouts in six innings of work. Kelsey Stewart kept her hot-hitting streak alive with another two-hit performance, including a home run. Ali Aguilar and Hannah Flippen also homered and picked up two hits as well.
USA and Mexico were scoreless for the first four innings of the third and final game on March 10, 2021. Pitchers Ally Carda and Keilani Ricketts limited Mexico to just three hits with two strikeouts each. USA rallied late for a five-run sixth inning to come from behind to win 5-3. Haylie McCleney went 3-for-4 with a triple and a home run to put USA on top. Valerie Arioto, Amanda Chidester, Taylor Edwards and Hannah Flippen also contributed with hits.
USA starting pitcher Keilani Ricketts threw a nine-strikeout no-hitter in game one of the three-game series against University of South Florida (USF) on March 12, 2021. Opposing pitchers gave up 12 walks in the four-inning mercy-rule 12-0 rout over USF. Ali Aguilar and Amanda Chidester led the offensive attack with two hits each, while Aubree Munro and Ally Carda picked up hits.
USA returned the following day to shutout University of South Florida 8-0. Once again, dominant lights-out starting pitching from Cat Osterman kept USF bats quiet with 11 strikeouts. Reliever Ally Carda was just as ruthless with five strikeouts of her own. All but one player in the starting nine lineup got hits in the USA offensive onslaught.
USA closed out the three-game series against University of South Florida (USF) with a five-inning mercy-rule 10-1 victory on March 14, 2021. Starting pitcher Ally Carda fanned seven USF hittters and reliever Keilani Ricketts added another strikeout to hold USF to just one hit. Ali Aguilar had a monster game with two homers and six RBI. Valerie Arioto, Haylie McCleney, Aubree Munro and Kelsey Stewart also had two hits each.
USA defeated fifth-ranked University of Florida 4-0 in their final game of the Clearwater training session on March 16, 2021. Starter Cat Osterman tallied eight strikeouts in five innings of work, while reliever Ally Carda picked up three strikeouts of her own. Ali Aguilar extended her four-game hitting streak with a 2-for-4 performance and three RBI. Amanda Chidester, Janie Reed, and Hannah Flippen also helped out with one hit each.
In today's exhibition game, the USA 18-player roster will be without Rachel Garcia, Dejah Mulipola and Bubba Nickles as well as assistant coaches Laura Berg, Howard Dobson, Tairia Flowers and Heather Tarr who all remain with their respective collegiate teams. Assisting Head Coach Ken Eriksen with coaching will be Kyla Holas and two-time Olympian Kelly Kretschman while Courtney Gano, Haylie Wagner, Jessie Warren, Randi Rupp and Samantha Show join the team as training players.
Despite being the underdog, Team Italy is up for the challenge to tame the relentless USA at the USSSA Space Coast Complex with eyes on the prize in the Tokyo Olympics. Forza #Italia! #PerEnrico
by Roberto Angotti