Lauren Gibson finished her college career with 46 stolen bases. In 2013, she successfully stole 15 of 17 bases as Tennessee played its way to the finals of the Women's College World Series.
The Lady Vols would ultimately lose the championship to Oklahoma, but that's in hindsight now. In the opening game of the World Cup of Softball, Gibson was 3-for-3 stealing bases.
In the top of the second, she would steal home plate to put Team USA up, 4-0, and in the top of the sixth she would deliver the dagger.
Gibson hit a two-run homer over the center field fence to seal an already solid lead for the U.S. National Team. That put the team up, 7-0, and rounded out the scoring in Team USA's opening game shutout.
“Coach (Ken Eriksen) just told me to go once I saw the ball release, and saw the catcher release the ball, and I just went,” Gibson said.
Valerie Arioto doesn't necessarily think Amy Winehouse is the best singer. She doesn't necessarily dislike her music either.
But she does like getting hyped up when she's at bat. At what better song to play than one with her name in it?
The 2012 California graduate said she picked the Winehouse classic “Valerie” as her walk-up music to get herself that much more excited when she steps up to the plate to hit.
“It just felt like it was fitting because it's my name, so I had to go with it,” said Arioto with a laugh. “She's good, but I think it's just ‘Valerie.' It says my name; it has to be good, you know it has to pump me up a little bit.”
FIRST BASE SHUFFLE
Arioto started off at first base for Team USA. Then Oklahoma standout Lauren Chamberlain took over the duties.
Arioto once again returned first base in the middle of the game, only for Chamberlain to once again make an appearance in the last inning of the game.
Eriksen said that's one of the luxuries of having two great players to play the position. When Arioto was stretching her arm for possible pitching duties, Chamberlain played first base.
Eriksen didn't need Arioto to step into the circle thanks to a solid game from Sara Nevins, but it's something to keep an eye moving forward in the tournament.
“Val was down in the bullpen loosening up, so she's part of the pitching staff this year,” he said. “So any time that we can have her as a middle relief and have the luxury of having an athlete like Chamberlain go out and switch up between the DP role and the relief pitcher or first base situation, it makes it easier for me with options.”
TEAM USA VISITING THE CHILDREN'S CENTER
Team USA will visit The Children's Center in Bethany at 9 a.m. Friday.
The team will take a tour of the facility before it plays a tee-ball game with Children's Center's patients.
“I enjoy doing that kind of stuff, just because it really allows you not to take things for granted,” Gibson said. “And how lucky we are each and every day to come out and play ball, and have each other and to have our families and everything. It definitely brings you down to earth, and it really just helps with everything.
“We're just (going to) have fun with the kids. Help them enjoy a day with us, and I'm sure we'll enjoy our day with them.”
USA wins Border Battle
Before the women's fast-pitch teams took the field for the World Cup, the U.S. and Canadian men's slowpitch teams took part in Border Battle V at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium.
Leadoff hitter Bryson Baker had four hits, four RBIs and one of the Americans' nine home runs in a 25-10 win over Canada. Robert Blackburn had two home runs.
Later Thursday, the U.S. national team beat the USA Futures team 32-16.