Dreams of gold ended for the USA Baseball Women's National Team as they were defeated 3-0 by Japan in the championship game of the IBAF World Cup. Despite the loss, the U.S. and two Knights returned home with a silver medal.
"Silver is obviously not what we wanted, but our team played hard and we just could not put a small rally together and score a few runs," USA head coach and UCF assistant coach Ruben Felix said.
The title game was dominated by pitching as each team got strong efforts from their starting pitchers. However, it was Japan who came through with a two-out hit in the third inning to take a lead it would never relinquish.
"They (Japan) caught a big break with two outs. We got a strikeout to end the inning, but the ball got away from the catcher and the runner reached," Felix explained. "Then they had two hits and a hit by pitch with the bases loaded to score a run and then a blooper single scored two more runs."
Former UCF shortstop Natalie Land was very productive throughout the tournament as the team's leadoff hitter. Land led Team USA in walks and finished second on the team in runs scored. Land also showed off her trademark speed by leading all tournament players with eight stolen bases.
"I'm proud of our team and proud of Natalie. She was great for us at the top of the lineup," Felix concluded. "Japan just played better defense, pitched better and had some timely hits to beat us."
The Women's National Team finished World Cup play with a 6-3 record. It kept its streak of medaling alive, finishing on the podium in all five IBAF Women's World Cups.