Sports

Mendoza gives Finch a nice departing gift

Stanford grad helps fellow Olympian close her international softball career

Stanford grad Jessica Mendoza helped Jennie Finch complete her international softball career as a champion.

Caitlin Lowe had a two-run triple, and the United States beat Japan, 5-1, Monday night to win its fourth straight World Cup of Softball title in Finch's final game in the red, white and blue.

Finch was pulled with two outs in the seventh and received a standing ovation as she headed into the dugout, stopping momentarily to wave to the crowd.

At 29, Finch decided to give up softball so she could spend more time with her family despite still being able to play at the highest level. She didn't allow a run in 18 2/3 innings at the World Cup, although she wasn't much of a factor in her final game.

Finch's teammates mobbed around her in a group hug after the final out.

"My career has been way more than I possibly ever could have dreamt of or imagined," Finch said. "I've been so incredibly blessed by this game, the people of this game. I can't say enough. I'm so grateful.

"And these fans, just amazing, incredible. They truly make it what it is. I'm just feeling so blessed at this moment."

A two-time Olympian and 2004 gold medalist, Finch developed into the most recognizable player in the sport after a standout career at Arizona that included the 2001 Women's College World Series title and an NCAA record 60 straight victories.

"I wanted us to get the last out and I wanted to play the last out, so I was like, 'Man, they took me out of the last out. I wish I could have been out there,'" Finch said. "I just wanted to close the deal and secure the World Cup back in the U.S."

For the finale, she played first base and went 0 for 3. She was unable to duplicate her storybook start to the tournament, when she homered in her first at-bat after announcing her plan to retire.

Mendoza put the U.S. on top with an RBI single in the first, and Lowe made it 3-0 with her two-run triple down the right-field line in the second.

Finch is leaving to spend more time with her 4-year-old son, Ace, and continue adding to her family with husband Casey Daigle. Daigle, a pitcher who has split this season between the Houston Astros and Triple-A, was able to get away for her final game and join a contingent of family that also included Finch's 89-year-old grandmother.

"I'm sad, you know, but we just won the World Cup," Finch said. "We can't be too sad."

Mendoza hit a home run and drove in two in a 3-0 win over the USA Futures team earlier in the day.

USA Baseball

After starting its summer tour with a perfect 9-0 record, the Collegiate National Team dropped its second-straight contest, losing Monday night to host Chinese-Taipei, 1-0, at Hsinchuang Baseball Field.

— Associated Press

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