Texas’ rising junior Taylor Hoagland hadn’t been playing at her best as she stepped up to bat in the bottom of the sixth inning of the World Cup of Softball Championship game against Japan. Earlier in the game, defensive problems had plagued Hoagland and, even though the United States was clinging to a 4-2 lead, a strong Japanese team was threatening to take the momentum.
With a full count and a teammate on third, Hoagland connected on a pitch from Japan’s new pitcher for a home run, her first of the World Cup. It gave the United States a comfortable 6-2 lead and helped them on their way to a 6-4 victory.
“We’ve been up, we’ve been down because of inexperience and youth,” head coach Ken Eriksen said. “I have to commend the young lady from Texas. She made a bad play then comes back with a clutch hit that was basically the difference in the score tonight.”
The win secured the United States’ fifth consecutive World Cup of Softball title. Japan handed the U.S. National Team their only loss in 2005, the year of the tournament’s inception. The tournament is hosted in Oklahoma City, Okla. each year by the Amateur Softball Association of America based in the United States.
In preliminary play, the United States went 4-for-5; their only loss was to Canada, which took home the bronze medal on the third night of the tournament.
Hoagland, who started the national team season on the bench, started five of the six games during the tournament — though she made an appearance in the sixth game. The Longhorn finished the tournament with a .600 batting average with three RBI and three runs scored. She also achieved a fielding percentage of .824, lower than her average for the Longhorns last season.
The World Cup of Softball marks the end of the U.S. National Team’s summer schedule, meaning Hoagland will return to Texas to begin fall training with the Longhorns, who hope her championship ways can rub off on the team.
Printed on Thursday, August 4, 2011 as: Hoagland's homerun helps Team USA win fifth consecutive title