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New-look Americans win home debutBy JEFF LATZKE (AP) â€" 1 day agoOKLAHOMA CITY — Just after a second straight ground ball skipped away from Jenae Leles, she turned to shortstop Natasha Watley and got timely advice."Want the next ground ball," Watley told her.And that's exactly what she got.

Leles cleanly fielded the next bouncer to third to get the Americans back on track, then really made up for her mistakes with a three-run homer and the U.S.

beat the Netherlands 7-2 Thursday night in its first game on American soil since losing the gold-medal game of the Beijing Olympics."I just kept my head screwed on and was mentally tough," Leles said.

"I wasn't getting down on myself."Leles misplayed consecutive ground balls to allow the Netherlands to tie the score at 2 in the top of the third inning, but redeemed herself in the bottom of the inning.She hit an 0-2 pitch from reliever Rebecca Soumeru to left-center field to give the Americans the lead for good and later added an RBI double."She was more disappointed than anybody, and a lot of times when something like that happens, people come in, they start pressing and it makes things worse offensively," U.S.

coach Jay Miller said."You have to separate your defense from your offense.

If you make a mistake one side or the other, you can't carry it over to the other side of the field.

I thought she showed a lot of maturity."She also benefited from some veteran leadership that can be harder to find on the U.S.

roster.The Americans brought a new-look team to the World Cup of Softball after seven players retired following the Olympics.

The sport won't be played in the 2012 London Games, but is among seven in consideration to be added in 2016.

That decision won't come until October.In the meantime, the U.S.

is trying to build a new team of softball stars under the leadership of Miller — who replaced Mike Candrea, the coach for the last eight years.Watley is one of only three players left who have played in the last two Olympics, along with Jennie Finch and Cat Osterman, and she had the right words at the right time for Leles — one of 10 rookies on the World Cup roster."It was definitely a rough start," said Leles, who also homered off Soumeru in the Americans' 7-0 win over the Netherlands on July 4 at the Canada Cup.

"I was just rushing myself.

I wasn't playing like Jenae."Finch (1-0) did her part, too, striking out her first five batters in four scoreless innings of relief.

She struck out 11 of 13 batters overall and was 3 for 3 with an RBI and a run scored."We wanted to come in here and make a statement, and I think we ended up doing that," Finch said.The Netherlands had not scored in five previous games against the U.S., but ended that streak with two unearned runs in the third off starter Stacey Nelson.Natalie Gosewehr, who had a single for her country's only hit off Osterman two weeks ago, started the rally with a single to center and advanced on a sacrifice before Leles misplayed back-to-back grounders to let the first run score.

A passed ball by Chelsea Bramlett evened the score at 2.Australia 5, Japan 2Stacey Porter drove in all of Australia's runs in an upset against 2008 Olympic gold medalist Japan.Porter had a three-run home run in the third inning and added a two-run single in the fourth against Naho Emoto (0-1).Kasumi Karino had an RBI single for Japan, which also scored on a wild pitch by Justine Smethurst (1-0) in the top of the third.Netherlands 6, Italy 2Nathalie Timmermans and Virginie Anneveld each had a pair of RBI singles to lead the Netherlands in a meeting of World Cup newcomers.Daniela Castellani hit a two-run homer for Italy's only runs against Kirsten Scheele (1-0).Note: A rain storm caused the postponement of Thursday night's final game, with Italy leading Canada 3-0 in the bottom of the first.

The game will resume Saturday morning.Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press.

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