Team USA hurler Ashley Brignac improved to 3-0 overall by allowing two unearned runs on two hits with 10 strikeouts over five innings of work. Reliever Megan Elliott tossed two frames for the Americans and allowed just one hit while striking out four. Third baseman Maggie Viefhaus and right fielder Neena Bryant each recorded a 2-for-4 performance with an RBI and a run scored to help the Red, White & Blue's nine-hit offensive attack.
After Brignac struck out a pair of Venezuelans in a one-two-three top of the first inning, the U.S. struck first in the bottom half of the opening frame by registering a pair of scores via three hits. Center fielder Alissa Haber walked with one out, advanced 60 feet to second on a single to short by second baseman Ashley Hansen and scored the Americans initial run on an RBI-base knock down the leftfield line off the bat of Viefhaus. Bryant's two-out single to right brought Viefhaus across the dish for a 2-0 lead.
Venezuela cut into its deficit in the top of the third as third baseman Geraldin Puerta christen a threat with a one out base hit up the middle. A walk placed runners at first and second for Desiree Mujica. The second baseman hit into a fielder's choice that Hansen handled by throwing to shortstop Monica Harrison to cut down the runner going to second. On the play while also attempting to gun down Puerta at third, Harrison's throw got away for an error allowing Venezuela to claw back within one run.
The Red, White & Blue left two stranded in the bottom of the third before erupting in the fourth inning. A fielding miscue by first baseman Ana Coscorrosa started the attack as Hansen reached safely. Viefhaus followed with a single through the right side that eventually placed runners at second and third with one down. An RBI-base hit from Harrison made it 3-1 in favor of the U.S., and then Bryant singled to load the bases.
Designated player Megan Langenfeld reached on a fielder's choice to first, but Viefhaus was forced out at the plate to record the second retirement of the frame. With the bags still juiced, Huff stepped into the batter's box and gave the U.S. some big-time breathing room by ripping her clutch three-RBI double to left for a 6-1 advantage.
Another error by Team USA shortstop Harrison, this time of the fielding variety in the top of the sixth, allowed Venezuela center fielder Grisell Leon to race across the dish with another unearned run to cut the deficit to 6-2. Relief pitcher Elliott retired six of the final batters she faced, however, over the sixth and seventh frames to seal the victory and send the Red, White & Blue on to face the winner of tonight's Japan/Australia contest at 11:30 a.m. on Friday with a guaranteed berth in the gold medal game hanging in the balance.
Event organizers are doing a live webcast of some of the games through the official event website:
For more information, including live statistics, please visit the Junior Women's World Championship page through USA Softball at www.usasoftball.org.
Updates on Huff and the U.S. squad will be posted at www.utladyvols.com as they become available.