SOFTBALL: Americans down Australia

Taylor Hoagland (left) and Kaitlin Cochran

OKLAHOMA CITY — Valerie Arioto tripled home the go-ahead runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, lifting the United States to an upset 5-2 victory over Australia at the World Cup of Softball on Friday night.

Australia, the bronze medalist at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2009 World Cup runner-up, came back from a 2-0 deficit to tie it before giving up three unearned runs, which proved to be the difference.

During the rally, Stacy May-Johnson reached on third baseman Stacy Porter’s fielding error with one out and advanced on a groundout.

Justine Smethurst then walked Brittany Schutte intentionally to bring up Arioto with two outs.

Arioto hit a liner into shallow left that Verity Long-Droppert missed on a diving attempt. The ball rolled to the wall and two runs scored.

Taylor Hoagland added an RBI single to help the Americans add an insurance run in the win.

Keilani Ricketts (1-0) gave up an RBI single to pinch hitter Jodie Stevenson — the first batter she faced after entering in the top of the sixth — and then got four straight outs before giving up a walk and single to bring the tying run to the plate with two outs in the seventh.

Chelsea Thomas earned the save for the second straight night, striking out Chelsea Forkin to end the game.

Third baseman Jenae Leles left the game in the fifth after twisting her right leg.

while fielding a bunt. She was on crutches after the game, but coach Ken Eriksen said she should be able to play Saturday.

The United States has suffered only three losses at the World Cup, once last year to Canada and twice at the inaugural event in 2005, but is in rebuilding mode after several veterans decided not to play for the national team this year. No Olympians remain on the team.

Today, the Americans face their top two rivals — 2008 gold medalist Japan and Canada.

Smethurst (1-2) took her second tough loss of the day. She carried a shutout into extra innings before giving up Yu Yamamoto’s three-run home run in the eighth inning of a 3-0 loss to Japan (2-0) earlier.

Rhea Taylor, who had been lifted for a pinch hitter in the fourth before Kelly Grieve was caught stealing, re-entered and started a rally for the U.S. in the fifth. She bunted for a single, stole second easily and then scored on May-Johnson’s flare to right-center. Schutte added an RBI double over the head of Michelle Cox in left to make it 2-0.

Australia (2-2) cut the deficit in half in the fifth. Long-Droppert reached on a leadoff bunt single, advanced on a passed ball and a sacrifice, and then scored when Clare Warwick bounced a single past a diving May-Johnson into left field.

Canada (2-1) notched a 7-0 win against Czech Republic (0-3) in five innings and a 6-4 win against Great Britain (0-2) in games played earlier Friday.