Lauren Gibson stole the show in Team USA's opening game of the World Cup of Softball against Canada.
In the top of the sixth inning, Gibson sent a two-run shot over the center-field fence to provide the winning margin in the American's 7-0, run-rule win. It was the only home run of the evening for either team, but it wasn't the only highlight for the former Tennessee Lady Vol.
Gibson was also 3-for-3 in stolen bases. Her third steal was especially sweet, because she was able to take home plate, which helped Team USA to take an early 4-0 lead after only two innings.
The former Lady Vol led last year's national team with a .500 batting average en route to the 2012 World Cup championship.
Team USA coach Ken Eriksen said he wasn't really surprised by Gibson's performance in the six-inning victory.
“That's typical Gibson,” Eriksen said. “When you see it every day you have to step back and appreciate it. We hit on all the right plays, and the focus was tremendous. It was a great effort.”
Said Gibson: “I just go out there and try to play the game how I always do it, and I had a good day today. But it's all about the team; everyone just did a great job.
“It was a great feeling (hitting the home run,) that's for sure. Off the bat, I knew right away; I just swung and made really good contact with it. … It was nice (being inside the dogpile,) that's for sure. I always enjoy, especially after a home run, just greeting my teammates and them always being there to give me a high five.”
The early offense made pitcher Sara Nevins' job just little bit easier. Through six innings, the closest Canada got to scoring was when Victoria Hayward and Joey Lye advanced to third and second base, respectively, in the bottom of the third.
Nevins would retire Megan Timpf in the next at bat, and Team USA would get out of the inning unscathed. Those were the only two hits the South Florida senior allowed all night. Nevins finished the game allowing two hits, one walk and six strikeouts in five innings.
“I thought we did really well today,” Nevins said. “For myself? Pretty good, I guess. Not bad. I'm not really mad about the two hits, but for the two hits, I would have improved by making better pitch selections.”
Team USA wasted no time in its opening game, scoring two runs in the top of the first. Michelle Moultrie led off with a single and advanced to third on a single by Lauren Gibson. The bases were then loaded after Jenna Caira, Canada's pitcher, walked OU's Lauren Chamberlain.
Valerie Arioto then delivered a two-run single to start off Team USA's scoring. In the second inning, the U.S. had Raven Chavanne and Gibson on the bags before Chavanne would score on an error, and Gibson would score during a double steal to take a 4-0 lead.
Next up for the United States is a 7 p.m. matchup Friday against Australia before taking on Japan and Puerto Rico on Saturday and Sunday.