Canada ends win streak for U.S.

Updated: July 26, 2010, 1:37 AM ET
Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY -- With one big inning, Jennifer Yee and Canada brought the United States' dominance at the World Cup of Softball to a screeching halt.

Yee hit a two-run homer and Melanie Matthews doubled in two more runs as Canada snapped the Americans' 22-game winning streak at the World Cup of Softball with a 5-2 victory Sunday night in a game that had more than three hours of rain delays.

"We have to play well to beat them obviously," said Yee, a college player of the year finalist last season at Georgia Tech. "We can't go in thinking we can just sit back and expect things to happen. We have to play well and we have to score in bunches."

No one else had been able to do that through the first three days of the World Cup.

The U.S. pitching staff hadn't allowed a run or an extra-base hit in 28 innings before Matthews laced a double through the infield that got past right-fielder Kaitlin Cochran. That started a five-run third inning for the Canadians (2-4), the most runs allowed in a World Cup game by the Americans -- let alone an inning.

"It's a tough one to swallow but I personally think that you learn more from losses and from failures," said U.S. starter Eileen Canney (1-1), a national team rookie who threw a two-hit shutout a day earlier.

"I'm going to bounce back and everyone else is going to bounce back from this and we're going to attack earlier and stronger."

The United States (4-1) was undefeated at last three World Cups, after losing twice at the first one in 2005. The Americans, who won the world championship three weeks ago to avenge a loss to Japan in the 2008 Olympic gold-medal game, are still locked into Monday night's championship game. The U.S. will face either Japan (3-3) or the USA Futures squad made up of the best American players left off the national team.

The Futures team (2-3), which beat Japan 2-1 earlier Saturday, faces the U.S. national team Monday afternoon in a game pushed back because of the pair of rain delays Sunday night. If the Futures team wins, the other spot in the championship game would be decided by a tiebreaker.

Canada was eliminated from contention for the World Cup title with an error-filled 4-0 loss to Japan in a game played immediately after the Canadians' big win.

Canada started out with three straight losses at the World Cup but rallied late Saturday night to beat the USA Futures squad made up of the best American players left off the national team.

Yee hit an RBI single and a game-ending two-run double in that rally. Then she delivered another big blow against Canney.

"I think we were building on the momentum from last night with our first win of the tournament," Yee said. "We were looking to go into this one on a high note, and I think we did that."

Canada also beat the U.S. in the first game ever played at the World Cup back in 2005 behind a five-hitter by Danielle Lawrie. At that time, Lawrie was 18 years old and hadn't yet embarked on a career at Washington that would earn her the 2009 Women's College World Series title and two college player of the year awards.

This time, Lawrie came on to relieve Jenna Caira (1-1) after a 2 hour, 42-minute rain delay in the top of the fifth inning. She pitched two scoreless innings before getting into a two-out jam in the seventh, and Caira re-entered to close out the game.

Caira walked Jessica Mendoza to load the bases before Kaitlin Cochran hit a sharp grounder to the right side that hit Mendoza's rear foot for an out that ended the game.

Mendoza said she saw the ball coming but couldn't get out of the way.

"We put up a good fight. We came back in the seventh, and I think that's the team that we are," Mendoza said. "If that stupid ball doesn't hit my cleat, I think we win."

U.S. coach Jay Miller said he questioned whether Mendoza should have been ruled out because softball's rules allow for a runner to be safe when hit by a batted ball if no defender has a play on the ball. Yee, the second baseman, was angling toward the ball but Miller felt she wouldn't have been able to get to it.

"The question is, 'Did the second baseman have a play on the ball?' I don't think she did," said Miller, who protested the call to the umpiring crew. "I think that was a clean base hit to right field. If the second baseman doesn't have a play on the ball, that shouldn't be an out."

Caitlin Lever had an RBI double for Canada sandwiched between the big hits by Matthews and Yee.

Ashley Charters and Caitlin Lowe had RBI singles for the U.S.

"Honestly, I think it's good every now and then to have games like tonight just for the betterment of us and our sport and to know that -- you know what? -- every team has a chance to beat us on any given night and this team has the chance to come back on any given night," Mendoza said.

"I think that's what makes the victories that much better is when you know they could beat us but they're not going to."


Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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