Team USA ran the table throughout the 2014 World Cup of Softball and continued its streak in the championship game with a 5-2 triumph over Team Canada.
After losing the event last season to Team Japan, the title now returns to the USA, and disappointment from 2013 is transformed into excitement for the team, as its official Twitter account shows:
Ball game!!! USA wins the gold with a 5-2 win over @SoftballCanada!— ASA and USA Softball (@ASAUSASoftball) July 13, 2014
USA was paced by a strong pitching performance from Sara Nevins and a breakout three-run fifth inning to capture the title. The impressive game for Nevins marked her second win over Canada in the World Cup—the only losses it suffered in the tournament.
The USF pitcher put together the huge showing in the circle for her college coach, as USF Athletics notes on Twitter:
Leading up to the final game, head coach Ken Eriksen spoke about his team's future, per NFCA.org.
"Our team is just at the beginning," Eriksen said. "We've still got a lot of things we need to get better on to be ready for the World Championships later this summer. I was really happy with the pitching performance tonight, they really battled well."
Youth was most certainly served with Nevins' performance.
Along with Nevins' start and subsequent finish, Raven Chavanne and Michelle Moultrie both contributed good numbers offensively. Chavanne finished the day 3-for-4 with two RBI and a stolen base, while Moultrie provided an RBI double and scored a run in the pivotal fifth inning.
Chavanne provided some inspiration for her teammates before the championship game on Instagram, with the caption reading, "Together we are golden":
The matchup started with both teams knotted up at 0-0 through the first two innings before Team USA found some offense.
After stealing second and advancing to third on a wild pitch, Kelsey Stewart made it count in the third inning. Stewart scored the first run on a wild pitch, giving USA a huge first run that would hold as the lone run until the fifth frame.
While Nevins was torching the Canadians in the circle, Chavanne once again made a huge difference with the bat. The Tennessee softball Twitter account provides a breakdown of the play from the Volunteer:
Following the huge three-run inning by Team USA, Canada broke through in the sixth.
The game started to unravel when Eriksen made the decision to pull his starter in favor of Jessica Moore. She failed to earn an out and surrendered two runs on two hits and a hit by pitch to give Canada life.
Jolene Henderson then entered the game and got two outs before Eriksen made the surprising move to bring back Nevins. The USF pitcher then shut down Canada yet again, recording the final out of the inning before USA came back up to bat in the seventh.
Collin Sherwin of VoodooFive.com provides his thoughts on Nevins throughout the game:
Sara Nevins just gave Canada a reason to hope and then took it away pretty easily. She’s just like the Toronto Raptors in that manner.— Collin Sherwin (@USFCollin) July 13, 2014
Team USA earned an insurance run in the top of the seventh, and Nevins shut the door yet again in the bottom of the inning. While Team Canada was able to get two runners on, it couldn't capitalize.
Following the championship win for Team USA, both countries will participate in the Canadian Open Fast Pitch International tournament in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada. With the United States clearly holding the upper hand between the two teams, the rivalry will continue with another matchup in Canada.
Countries like Mexico and Japan will once again be in the next tournament, but a game played between Canada and the United States Friday will be huge. As both teams look to continue their recent success, Team USA now hopes to keep the winning streak alive in Surrey.