The US beat Japan 6-4 on Monday to win their fifth straight title in the World Cup of Softball.
Taylor Hoagland hit a two-run home run and Valerie Arioto and Megan Langenfeld had RBI singles for the home team.
US starting pitcher Jordan Taylor (1-0) retired the first eight batters she faced and did not give up a hit until the fifth inning.
“It feels amazing, just because nobody really knew who this group of girls was,” Taylor said. “We were just kind of underground a little bit. It definitely felt good to come out and still show that USA softball is staying strong.”
In the latest clash between the sport’s two powers, the US avenged a loss to Japan in the championship game of the Canada Cup earlier this month.
The US won the first three Olympic gold medals and have won the past seven world championships, but Japan hold the gold medal from the 2008 Olympics.
The teams have met in the finals in five of the six World Cups, with the US winning four times.
Japan were without injured ace pitcher Yukiko Ueno, who had been a nemesis for the US with wins including the 2008 gold medal game, the 2005 World Cup title game and a shutout in Canada earlier this month.
Makiko Fujiwara (1-2) started in her place and walked four straight batters in the first, before Brittany Schutte’s sacrifice fly put the US up 2-0.
The US were lucky in the third when Kaitlin Cochran appeared to be out at third base, but the triple was allowed to stand and she scored on Arioto’s single to right to make it 3-0.
Japan got within 3-1 on Rie Nagayoshi’s RBI groundout in the fifth.
Then Haruka Kageyama was given a single when her ground ball hit Mika Suzuki as she ran down the third base line. Japan coach Reika Utsugi protested and then returned to the home plate umpire to motion for her to look at a replay, to no avail.
Langenfeld had a pinch-hit single to bump the US lead to 4-1 in the fifth and Japan replied with a run from Hoagland’s throwing error in the sixth to make it 4-2.
Hoagland’s two-run blast made it 6-2 in the bottom of the sixth. That proved crucial because Japan got two runs in the seventh when Michelle Moultrie dropped Eri Yamada’s two-out flyball in the seventh. Two runs scored and Yamada reached third, but Misa Okubo popped up an attempted bunt to end the game.
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