USA and Japan won today their respective games and advanced in the playoffs. Tomorrow they will face each other with a spot in the World Championship Finale at stake. Both teams have secured a medal in this tournament.

USA 3-1 Australia

Monica Abbott, who topped 70 miles per hour, got on strikes 18 of the 21 outs needed and led the defending champions USA to a 3-1 win against Australia. The aussie had tied it in the fourth, on their very first hit of the game, a home run by Stacy Porter. Australia paid a high price to a couple of defensive errors.

The USA capitalized on an error and a passed ball, that took lead off hitter Hailye McCleney to second, to take the lead in the bottom of the first. Delaney Spaulding and Valerie Arioto hit back to back singles off Australia starter Kaia Parnaby and took her home.

In the top of the fourth Australia tied the game with the very first runner that reached base against Monica Abbott. Veteran third baseman Stacey Porter led off with a monster solo homer to right. Leigh Godfrey followed with a single. The second hit against Abbott would be also the last of the game for Australia.

Stacey Porter is welcomed after her game tying home run

In the bottom of the fifth the defending champions took the lead back. With one out, Janette Reed doubled to left. Haylie McCleney followed with a base hit and Parnaby walked Alison Aguilar to load the bases. Porter got to Delaney Spaulding’s chopper, but her throw home went over catcher Carmelle Sorensen and allowed Reed and McCleney to score.

Monica Abbott cruised to the win facing only seven hitters (one hit by pitch) in the last two innings

Japan 7-0 Puerto Rico

Japan defeated Puerto Rico 7-0, in six innings, and advanced in the playoffs of the WBSC Softball World Championship. The host team scored five runs in the second inning to secure the victory, including a grand slam by Yu Yamamoto.

Japan took the early lead with an unearned run in the first inning. Giselle Juarez retired the first two batters she faced with grounders to the right field of the diamond. And after a long at bat, forced Saki Yamazaki to hit a grounder to third base. However Quianna Diaz couldn’t make the play, bobbling the ball and making a bad throw first to allow Yamazaki reach second base. Puerto Rico intentionally walked dangerous hitter Yu Yamamoto to face Mana Atsumi, but the Japanese short stop hit the first single of the game to produce the first run of the game.

In the second inning Japan scored again. With one out in the board, Haruka Agatsuma hit a short single to right field, and then advanced to second on a sacrifice by Natsuko Sugama. She was replaced by temporary runner Agatsuma, who scored three pitches later with an RBI tirple by center fielder Eri Yamada.

But the inning wasn’t over yet. Yuka Ichiguchi drew a walk and Xeana Dung replaced Juarez in the circle. However Yamazaki walked to load the bases and Yamamoto hit a monster home run to center field to make the score 6-0.

Yu Yamamoto hit a grand slam in the second inning of the game between Japan and Puerto Rico

After that, the bats got quiet for both teams until the bottom of the sixth, when Japan scored the seventh run of the game to take the win. Pinch hitter Minori Naito earned a walk, stole second, and advanced to third with a single by Yamada. Finally she crossed home plate on a pass ball to end the game.

Yukiko Ueno earned the win in 5 innings of work, with 4 hits and 9 strikeouts. Misaki Katsumata pitched one perfect inning in relief. Puerto Rican starter Juarez was charged with the loss.

Playoff round schedule for tomorrow:

C5 – 9:30 – Australia v Mexico

C6 – 12:00 – Puerto Rico v Canada

C7 – 15:30 – Winner C5 v Winner C6

C8 – 19:00 – USA v Japan