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U.S., Japan in hunt for title at Women’s Softball World Championship

AP, Staff Report

Alison Aguilar and Delaney Spaulding drove in three runs each as the United States beat Taiwan 7-0 Saturday to improve to 2-0 in Group A at the Women’s Softball World Championship, a qualifier for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Aguilar hit a bases-loaded double in a five-run second inning when Spaulding doubled in a single run. Spaulding completed the scoring with a two-run homer in the fourth and the game was called after five innings on the tournament’s mercy rule.

Keilani Ricketts picked up the win after striking out four and giving up only three hits over five innings.

The winner of the tournament, which runs through Aug. 12, will be awarded an Olympic berth. If Japan wins, the second-place finisher will be granted the Olympic spot as Japan has an automatic berth as host.

Also in Group A, Puerto Rico beat South Africa 9-0.

In Group B games on Saturday, Australia edged Italy 3-2 and China shut out Britain 1-0. Japan, which thrashed Botswana 20-0 on Friday, raised its record to 3-0 with a 5-0 victory over China later in the day.

Japan scored once in the first inning and tacked on two runs apiece in the second and third frames to take a commanding lead over China in Narita.

Leadoff hitter Eri Yamada went 2-for-3, including a homer, with two runs and two RBIs for Japan. Yu Yamamoto and Yamato Fujita each had two hits, while Nozomi Nagasaki drove in a run.

Yukiko Ueno earned the win, pitching five scoreless innings. Ueno allowed one hit, struck out six and walked one. Fujta worked the final two innings.