United States 7, Canada 0, 6 innings

Sunday, July 15th 2007, 3:06 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Crystl Bustos and Natasha Watley hit two-run home runs and Jennie Finch threw a three-hitter as the United States advanced to the championship game of the World Cup of Softball with a 7-0 win against Canada on Sunday.

Finch (1-0) struck out eight in six innings, her longest outing of the year. She hasn't given up a run in her last 19 1-3 innings.

Finch had a 2-0 lead before she stepped into the circle, courtesy of Bustos' team-best sixth home run this year in the top of the first. Bustos' shot to left-center field barely cleared outfielders Alison Bradley and Noemie Marin, who had retreated to the wall to make leaping attempts at a catch.

Watley doubled the lead in the fourth inning with her first home run of the year, a line drive to right-center. The U.S. moved into position for a mercy rule win in the sixth, when Tairia Flowers was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and Vicky Galindo followed with a two-run single to make it 7-0.

The U.S. (5-0) was the only team to make it through round-robin play undefeated and has now won 21 consecutive games. Canada (3-2) still retained some hope of reaching the championship game, but would need help from Japan (2-1), which was to play a double-header Sunday night against Venezuela (1-3) and China (1-2).

Japan beat the U.S. in the 2005 World Cup final, and the Americans won the rematch in last year's championship game.

Finch was a month and a half removed from having her first child, son Ace, and threw only three innings at last year's World Cup. The right-hander from Arizona has since moved back into a featured role on the U.S. staff. She went 3-0 with an 0.56 ERA earlier this year at the Canada Cup and has thrown 11 shutout innings so far at the World Cup.