USA awarded rain-shortened Pan Am gold

RIO de JANEIRO, Brazil – Rain continued to plague the XV Pan American Championships, forcing the COMPASO Technical Commission, the organization which oversees the competition, to award the U.S. National Team its sixth consecutive Pan Am Championship softball gold medal after the Red, White & Blue downed Canada, 7-0, in a matchup of No. 1-seeds in the semifinals.

Former Tennessee Lady Vol Monica Abbott hurled a two-hit shutout with eight strikeouts over five innings against the Canadian squad to eventually secure the gold for Team USA. The Salinas, Calif., native combined with Jennie Ritter to no-hit Colombia during preliminary round action and finished the event with a team-high 20 strikeouts from the circle.

The United States continued its dominant summer tour by outscoring four opponents in Brazil by a combined total of 28-0, while the pitching staff allowed only two hits over 22 total innings of work with three no-hitters. The powerful offense also hit at a .358 clip with 32 base knocks while run-ruling three of its four foes.

In the semifinal matchup versus Canada, Abbott allowed a one-out single to shortstop Jennifer Salling, the first hit given up by U.S. pitching at the Pan Am Games, but didn't allow it to faze her as she struck out right fielder Danielle Matthews, first baseman Sheena Lawrick and center fielder Alison Bradley to leave the runner stranded at first.

Starting for Canada in the circle, current University of Washington pitcher Danielle Lawrie managed to keep the powerful U.S. offense off the scoreboard until the bottom of the third inning when a one-out bunt single from center fielder Caitlin Lowe christened a three-run scoring outburst.

Following a steal of second by Lowe, left fielder Jessica Mendoza drove an RBI double to right for a 1-0 advantage. Third baseman Crystl Bustos was intentionally walked and center fielder Kelly Kretschman reached on a crucial error by Bradley in center allowing both Bustos and Mendoza to cross the plate to make it 3-0.

With Abbott cruising from the circle, the Red, White & Blue greeted new Canada hurler Katie Rosentroter rudely with a three-run assault in the bottom of the fourth.

Designated player Vicky Galindo led off the frame with a bunt single and moved to second as second baseman Lovie Jung was struck by a pitch. A wild offering allowed both runners the chance to move up 60 feet into scoring position where a two-RBI single from catcher Lauren Lappin plated both for a 5-0 lead. A groundout from Mendoza later added another score as Lappin plated Team USA's sixth tally.

In the bottom of the fifth, another RBI from Lappin allowed first baseman Andrea Duran to score the seventh run of the contest bringing the run-rule into play.

With the eventual rainout of the title game, the dominant win over Canada secured the U.S. the gold medal.

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