U-19 TEAM USA WINS WORLD CUP OF SOFTBALL: WITH GEORGIA HELP
By Chris Goltermann - cowetascore.com Team USA captured the gold medal with a 4-3 walk-off victory over Japan in the finals of this year’s U19 Women’s Softball World Cup. In a thrilling finish to tournament play in Irvine, Calif., a scoreless game carried into the eighth with Japan grabbing a three-run advantage only to watch Team USA rally back. Pinch hitter Francesca Hammoude tied the score with a home run and one batter later Echols nearly ended it with a two-out blast toward right center. The ball came within inches of a game-winner as it hit the top portion of the outfield fence and caromed away from two colliding outfielders, allowing Echols to motor all the way to third with a triple.
Teammate Jasmine Sievers fought off a 1-2 count to send a hard grounder that Japan’s shortstop Ako Imamura couldn’t get a firm hold on in between hops as Echols raced home to score the game winner. The USA U19 team closed the summer with a 26-5-1 record after winning 10 straight games at the World Cup, the first nine of which in shutout efforts.
Lynch, who was in the starting lineup at first base in the championship game, did not allow a run or a hit during three appearances in the circle during the tournament, striking out nine batters in eight combined innings.The Team USA staff was led by Megan Faraimo who helped lead UCLA to a national championship as a freshman this past spring. Alabama sophomore Montana Fouts was also among a stellar staff assembled by head coach Heather Tarr, who landed Lynch as the nation’s top high school recruit in the Class of 2019 at the University of Washington.
Lynch was named Gatorade National Female Athlete of the Year this summer and graced the cover of Sports Illustrated’s July 15 issue.
Echols now heads to the University of Florida after getting a chance to play one final time with older sister Ebonee as a freshman while teammates at Michigan State. During the final 10 games of the World Cup, Charla was Team USA’s most consistent hitter, batting .481 (13 for 27) with a double, two triples, a homer and 9 RBIs. The one-time Northgate High star, who batted over .500 with just one strikeout in her senior year with the Lady Vikings, had at least one hit in each game of the World Cup tournament.
Prior to the World Cup, the U19 team became the first from the United States to ever medal in the International Cup winning bronze behind only the U.S. Women's National Team and Japan in a tournament hosted by South Commons Softball Complex in Columbus.
Georgia natives on the U19 team also include second baseman Skylar Wallace, who played at Etowah High and will be entering her sophomore year at the University of Alabama.