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Team USA falls to Japan in title game

OKLAHOMA CITY - For the second straight year, the World Cup of Softball ended in disappointment for the United States at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium.

And for the second straight year, it was Japan celebrating a 2-1 victory over the hosts Sunday, riding a 2-run single by Minami Sato to their second consecutive World Cup championship.

Sato stepped to the plate with one out in the third inning and with the bases loaded. She lifted a Jessica Moore pitch into left field, scoring Mana Atsumi and Natsuko Sugama. 

Sato's single was one of only three Japanese hits all game, but it was all the offense they would need as pitchers Yamato Fugita and Yukiko Ueno were able to keep the American bats relatively quiet. Ueno, especially, was tough on the U.S. bats, allowing one hit and striking out 6 in the last 3.2 innings of the game.

The Americans had a chance to take back momentum and tie the game in the fourth inning. Aubree Munro singled home Valerie Arioto in the fourth and Janie Takeda's subsequent single put two runners on with one out and the lead down to one. That was when Japan put in Ueno. Haylie McCleney proceded to strike out and Kelsey Stewart lined out to shallow left field to end the rally.

In addition to the two three hits and two runs she gave up, Moore walked four batters. After three innings, she was pulled for Delanie Gourley, who pitched a hitless inning. Her Florida Gators teammate, Kelly Barnhill, duplicated the feat over the two innings of relief she pitched.

The Lawton Constitution

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