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Mulipola and Team USA continue winning streak against O’Toole, McQuillin and Team Mexico at Olympic Games

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Amy Bailey | The Daily Wildcat

Arizona's Dejah Mulipola keeps her eye on the ball after hitting an incoming pitch from New Mexico State in the Arizona-New Mexico game at the Hillenbrand Stadium on Wednesday, April 18, 2018, in Tucson Ariz.

Team USA softball continued to dominate the Tokyo Olympic Games, shutting out Team Mexico 2-0 on Saturday, July 24, at Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium. USA improved their Olympic record to 3-0, tied with host nation Japan for the best record in the tournament. 

Mexico sent pitcher Dallas Escobedo, an alumnus of Arizona State, into the circle to contain USA. Escobedo was looking for a bounce-back performance after she gave up seven hits, five walks and four runs in her team's 4-0 loss to Team Canada on Tuesday, July 20. 

It would be a tall task as the first batter Escobedo was set to face was center fielder Haylie McCleney. Coming into the game, McCleney was the hottest hitter in the tournament, batting .800 with one run scored, two walks and an OBP of .857. McCleney kept her hot start going by hitting an infield single to set up USA with an early opportunity to take the lead. Instead, Escobedo retired the next three batters to end the early threat. 

Pitcher Catherine Osterman was back in the circle for USA after a strong performance to open the Olympics against Italy. Osterman would be throwing to catcher and former Wildcat Dejah Mulipola, who made her long-awaited Olympic debut. After retiring the first two batters, Osterman threw a pitch way inside and hit shortstop Anissa Urtez to give Mexico their first baserunner of the game. Osterman escaped the inning when catcher Brittany Cervantes grounded out to second base. 

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The second inning was quiet with no runs and one hit between both teams. The third inning is where things got going for USA. Mulipola led off the third with a full-count walk. McCleney came up next and hit a sharp single to shallow left field to put two runners on with no outs. Mexico co-head coach Carlos Bernaldez saw enough and pulled Escobedo and called upon Danielle O’Toole, another former Wildcat, to try and halt the momentum established by USA. 

O’Toole looked like she would escape the inning with no damage after getting the next two batters out. Then O’Toole got into trouble against first baseman Valerie Arioto. Down in the count 3-0, Mexico decided to intentionally walk Arioto to load the bases for the force out. That brought up second baseman Ali Aguilar. With the count 1-1, Aguilar hit the next pitch just over the second baseman’s head to bring home two runs to give USA a 2-0 lead. With those runs, Escobedo finished the day with 2.0 innings pitched with two runs, two hits and two walks. 

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After the third inning, it was all USA the rest of the way. Osterman would finish her day with 6.0 innings pitched with one hit, one walk and four strikeouts. Mulipola would collect her first hit as an Olympian in the top of the seventh inning, finishing the day 1-2 with one walk and a run scored. Mexico would not collect another hit or run. O’Toole’s final line was 3.2 innings pitched with three hits and one walk. 

With the game finishing around 1:30 a.m. MST, Team USA played again later that day and defeated Team Australia 2-1 on a walk-off hit in the eighth inning to bring their Olympic record to 4-0. 

Team USA will face host nation Team Japan at Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium on Sunday, July 25, at 6 p.m. MST on NBCSN. 


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