Packed house sees Haylie McCleney, United States win gold medal over rival Japan

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From heartache in an empty Tokyo stadium to a packed-residence occasion, the United States softball workforce attained some diploma of redemption Wednesday night time in Hoover.

With an approximated crowd of 8,200 chanting U-S-A, a little popup to the pitcher iced the 3-2 U.S. gain about Japan in the Earth Game titles remaining significantly less than a 12 months after the outcome was reversed in the Tokyo Olympic Games.

From her location in centerfield, Alabama alum Haylie McCleney sprinted to the infield on the ultimate out of a tense rematch. The United States and McCleney experienced to settle for silver with a 2- loss to their rival previous August but the previous Crimson Tide star performed a massive purpose in the revenge tour this 7 days at the Hoover Fulfilled.

McCleney was named event MVP following heading 8-for-15 with 5 RBIs and four runs scored. She went 1-for-3 in the title video game.

“The Olympics was wonderful and I’m seriously grateful I had that encounter but to be able to win a gold medal, to be declared a globe winner 20 minutes from my hometown, you just cannot generate it any better than this,” reported McCleney, a product or service of Morris, Alabama just north of Birmingham and a graduate of Mortimer Jordan Large University.

McCleney laced a direct-off solitary in the house 50 percent of the 1st only to be reduce down on a double perform on the next at-bat.

Japan — winners about the US in a 7-1 tune-up video game previous 7 days in Oxford, Alabama — certainly had its prospects. It remaining 10 batters on foundation in the 1st four innings, 2 times leaving the bases loaded as veteran U.S. starter Monica Abbott buckled down when needed.

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All 3 U.S. runs came on a bases-clearing double from No. 9 batter Janae Jefferson, a College of Texas merchandise. The sharp line grounder into the left-middle gap to middle scored Bubba Nickles, Kinzie Hansen and Taylor Pleasants to the roar of the group.

Abbott permitted a operate in the 3rd in advance of UCLA grad Ally Carda entered in the fifth inning. One particular extra crossed that inning before Carda buckled down to get strikeouts in 7 of the 9 outs she recorded.

And following placing out the first two batters in the seventh, the pitcher caught a bloop just in front of the circle for the final out.

Alabama ace Montana Fouts was warming up in the sixth inning in case of unexpected emergency but Carda located her groove and finished any menace of a comeback.

Equally Fouts and McCleney commented on the strength they felt from the house crowd that doubled the capacity of Rhoads Stadium on the Alabama campus.

Most stayed as a result of the medal ceremonies with much more U-S-A chants echoing through the suburban stadium that’s dwelling to the SEC baseball match. It was in people seats that McCleney grew up looking at the Birmingham Barons perform small league baseball never thinking she’d one working day be the star on that phase.

“I’m just considering about 5-year-old me,” McCleney claimed with her gold medal draped around her neck. “I pondering about the following kid coming driving me may possibly even occur back and play at the Hoover Met some day for the United States. What a neat moment for softball. Individuals will need to devote in it. Individuals require to look at it. Just look at the stadium tonight. The crowd, the power, how invested our fans were.”

Michael Casagrande is a reporter for the Alabama Media Team. Follow him on Twitter @ByCasagrande or on Facebook.



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