TAMPA, — A crowd of over 1,000 fans came together at USF Softball Stadium on Monday night to witness the matchup of international powerhouse Team Japan and USF softball in an exhibition game.
USF paid tribute to Japan and the United States in a pregame ceremony where both national anthems were played. USF Vice President of Athletics Michael Kelly threw the first pitch alongside USA Softball Chief Executive Officer Craig Cress, and the teams exchanged gifts as tokens of gratitude for an incredible opportunity to play each other on a beautiful night in Tampa.
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The first six innings of the matchup were a pitcher's dual with Japan carrying a 1-0 lead. The Japanese National Team went ahead early with one run in the top of the second inning, but sophomore Georgina Corrick and senior Nicole Doyle held the team at one run through five innings with just five hits from the No. 2 team in the world.
Japan's perfect defense was tough for the Bulls who knocked off three hits and two runs in the international exhibition. Junior Brooke Hartman (Port Orange, Fla.) and freshman Meghan Sheehan (Forest Hill, Md.) each singled, but were left stranded.
In the seventh inning, Tayli Filla (Ft. Myers, Fla.) drew a walk with one out, and freshman Dezarae Maldonado hit a two-run rocket over the left field fence in what she referenced as the highlight of her career.
Team Japan scored nine runs in the top of the seventh inning on its way to a 10-2 victory.
USF will head to Tucson, Ariz., for the Hillenbrand Invitational at the University of Arizona, Feb. 15-17. The Bulls will take on Alabama, Arizona, UIC, Cal State Fullerton and New Mexico.