U.S. rolls to victory

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Chelsea Thomas struck out six in 3 2⁄3 innings, Christie Orgeron had a pair of doubles and two RBI and the United States beat Puerto Rico 8-0 in five innings Thursday on the first day of the World Cup of Softball.

The United States (1-0) scored five runs in the third inning, including four with two outs, against three Puerto Rico pitchers. The Americans drew seven walks, and all but one starter reached base safely at least once.

Puerto Rico (0-2) had only one hit, a first-inning single by Karla O Claudio down the left-field line.

The U.S. has won the each of the last five years the event has been played. The American squad will face Australia tonight, the Netherlands and Canada on Saturday and Brazil on Sunday.

The top two teams in the six-team round-robin will play Monday for the title.

Sam Fischer’s single to center field drove in Rhea Taylor, who had walked, to give the U.S an early lead in the first inning. Jenae Leles doubled off the left-center field wall on the first pitch of the second inning by Claudio, Puerto Rico’s starter. Leles came around on a sacrifice by Orgeron and a sacrifice fly by Molly Johnson, making it 2-0.

In the third, the U.S. sent 11 batters to the plate. Two wild pitches by Claudio led to two runs, and she was chased by Valerie Arioto’s two-out single. Reliever Kaylyn Camacho fared even worse, failing to retire any of the four batters she faced, surrendering three walks and a double by Orgeron. Laura Ramos issued a bases-loaded walk to Katie Cochran before recording the final out.

Thomas, a two-time Big 12 Conference pitcher of the year at Missouri who played on the gold medal-winning U.S. team in last year’s Pan American Games, retired the last 10 batters she faced and allowed only one ball out of the infield.

Thomas exited in the fourth, replaced by Jackie Traina, whose last appearance at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium — earlier this month — came while leading Alabama to its first Women’s College World Series title. She retired all four batters she faced.

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