Ichihara - Kristi Merritt and Sahvanna Jaquish hit home runs as the United States beat South Africa 7-0 in five innings to remain undefeated at the women's softball world championship on Tuesday.
Merritt hit a three-run homer in the second inning to give the defending champions a 4-0 lead, and Jaquish added a two-run shot in the fourth.
Rachel Garcia, Keilani Ricketts, and Kelly Barnhill combined to pitch a no-hitter, with a total of 14 strikeouts as the United States improved to 6-0 and secured one of the two top spots in Group A.
Puerto Rico defeated New Zealand 4-1 and also improved to 6-0, in a championship which also doubles as a qualifier for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The United States will play Puerto Rico on Wednesday with first place in the group at stake.
The winner of the tournament will be awarded an Olympic berth. If Japan wins, the second-place finisher will be granted the Olympic spot because Japan has an automatic berth as host.
In Group B, host Japan improved to 6-0 by beating Canada 2-0.
Softball and baseball were dropped after the 2008 Beijing Olympics but have been added to the program for 2020.