Team USA has earned a medal in each of the first six editions of the WBSC Women's Baseball World Cup, which began in 2004.
In a seven-inning game that was played Monday afternoon locally, Kelly held down a U.S. offense that had scored 11 combined run in its first two games. The right-hander from Victoria, Australia, tossed 6 1/3 innings and allowed just two runs (one earned) on two hits while striking out one and walking four. U.S. starter Kelsie Whitmore, who made headlines this year when she signed with the independent Sonoma Stompers of the Pacific Association, lasted just one inning after allowing three runs.
Center fielder Brittany Gomez kick-started the offense for Team USA, working Kelly for eight pitches before reaching on an infield single. It marked the third straight game in which Gomez reached base safely to start a game for the U.S. Gomez advanced to second on a fielder's choice and moved to third on a balk. Then, Underwood skied a ball deep over center fielder Chelsea Forkin's head for a two-out RBI triple that gave the U.S. a 1-0 lead.
Australia fired back in the bottom of the first, when catcher Tahnee Lovering doubled to record a two-out RBI and tie the game at one. After Whitmore walked a batter to load the bases, left fielder Tammy McMillan hammered a grounder that went off third baseman Michelle Snyder's glove and ricocheted to score two more Aussie runs.
Jade Gortarez came on to pitch for Team USA in the second, but Australia's offense kept the pedal down. Second baseman Olivia Bannon led off with a single and advanced on a balk. After Bannon advanced to third on a fielder's choice, Forkin brought her home with a sacrifice fly to deep right field.
Australia added four more runs off Stacy Piagno, Whitmore's Sonoma teammate, in the fifth, along with two more in the sixth. Those runs -- which gave Australia a nine-run cushion -- were more than just insurance, as the Aussies came in needing to win Sunday's game by at least five runs to ensure a spot in the upcoming Super Round of the tournament.
It was also plenty of offense for Kelly, whose mix of off-speed pitches induced a number of shallow fly balls from the potent U.S. lineup. Kelly, who is more than two weeks shy of her 18th birthday, kept Team USA hitless after the first inning and retired 11 consecutive batters at one point.
Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.