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US gets softball mercy rule win over Italy

other Updated: Jul 18, 2009 10:15 IST
US gets softball mercy rule win over Italy

The United States remained atop the standings in the World Cup of Softball with a 12-0 thrashing of Italy on Friday that was stopped by the mercy rule after five innings.

That made it two wins from two games for the host nation. Australia also has two wins, albeit from three games, after winning one and losing one on Friday, beating the Netherlands 6-1 before going down 3-2 to Canada.

America's power against Italy came from an unlikely source, with pitcher Jennie Finch hitting a two-run homer to left field during a six-run first inning.

"That broke things open for us that first inning," US coach Jay Miller said. "She's been swinging the bat great. She's seeing the ball well and doing a great job offensively." Finch was an impressive hitter at collegiate level, but in her time with the US national team, she has been primarily used as a pitcher. She got only 30 at-bats in the Americans' 60-game tour leading up to the Olympics last summer and then didn't get a chance to hit in Beijing.

"Unfortunately, I didn't get the opportunity and now that I have it, I want to take it and run and enjoy every minute I have at the plate," Finch said.

Australia broke open its game against the Netherlands with a four-run sixth inning.

Jodie Bowering homered and Stacey Porter went 3 for 3 and drove in two runs. Kylie Cronk and Porter each had two-run doubles as Australia pulled away.

The Netherlands took a 1-0 lead in the second inning, but Aimee Murch came on to pitch five innings of scoreless relief for Australia.

Australia took the lead for good when Clare Warwick stole home in the third inning.

Backing up for a second game just 3-1/2 hours later, Australia fell short of a victory that would have put it top of the standings. Canada's Jennifer Yee capped a 3 for 3 effort with a tiebreaking home run in the fifth inning to secure the win.

Canada struck first by scoring two runs on a dropped fly ball in the first inning, and Australia tied it in the fourth on Danielle Stewart's two-run home run to left field.