NORMAN – Oklahoma sophomore pitcher Mariah Lopez helped the USA Softball Junior Women’s National Team capture the gold medal at the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Junior Women's World Championship in Clearwater, Fla., last week.
The U.S. JWNT rolled through the competition with a perfect 9-0 record, including five shutouts, and outscored their opponents by a combined margin of 99-9. The tournament run culminated Sunday with a 13-4 win over the Japanese Junior Women’s National Team in the championship game.
Lopez appeared in three of the nine games with one start, posting a 1-0 record. In 7.1 scoreless innings the Saugus, Calif., native allowed just one hit and struck out 16 with no walks.
The tournament couldn’t have started much better for Lopez who was a part of perfect games in her first two appearances. She made her debut by coming on in relief in a 14-0, four-inning win against Guatemala Monday. Lopez struck out three in 2.0 innings, throwing 16 of her 17 pitches for strikes.
Lopez got her lone start of the tournament two days later in an 8-0, five-inning victory over Italy. Facing 10 batters, Lopez struck out nine over 3.1 innings. She struck out the side in both the first and second innings before getting a groundout to start the third inning. That would be the only ball put in play, though, for Italy as Lopez struck out the final three batters she faced before being lifted for a relief pitcher.
The final appearance for Lopez came Thursday in a 9-1, six-inning win over Chinese Taipei. She entered in relief in the fifth inning and struck out four while allowing her only hit of the tournament.
The next competition for Lopez and the U.S. JWNT comes August 10 in Cincinnati, Ohio, at the Major League Baseball RBI World Series.