The United States avenged their losses in the previous two finals of the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Women's Softball World Championship to Japan with a 7-3 victory to clinch the gold medal in Surrey in Canada.
The Asian nation, seeking their third straight title, were no match for a superior American outfit as outfielders Haylie McCleney and Michelle Moultrie each scored three home runs to guide them to the top of the podium.
The US had won seven consecutive gold medals at the event before succumbing to defeat two editions in a row to Japan, who also beat the Americans in the final of the Olympic competition at Beijing 2008.
Japan had thrashed Canada 11-1 to reach the tournament’s showpiece but they were unable to replicate that form in the final.
Hosts Canada ensured they ended the competition on home soil on a positive note as they comfortably overcame The Netherlands 9-2 to seal the bronze medal.
“We’ve now demonstrated very clearly over the last eight years that we’re among the top four countries in the world and have moved a step closer to the [gold medal] game,” said Canada head coach Mark Smith.
“With the youth of our kids, the way they’re playing the game and the experience they’re gaining, it’s all good news.”
The American team started the brighter in their clash with Japan and were not made to rue the absence of star player Amanda Chidester, who had hit seven home runs in the tournament before breaking her arm in the semi-final win yesterday.
McCleney and Moultrie both delivered superb performances to help their team secure the title, while pitchers Ally Carda, Jessica Moore, Jackie Traina and Delanie Gourle also playing a key role.
The four combined to give up eight hits while striking out three.
The 2018 WBSC Women’s Softball World Championship is due to be held in Tokyo, with softball expected to be on the programme of the 2020 Olympic Games in the Japanese capital along with karate, sport climbing, skateboarding and surfing.
All five are set to be confirmed at the International Olympic Committee Session ahead of Rio 2016.