The Canadian Women’s softball team had its sights set on a podium finish at the Beijing Olympic Games, but the young team – including Port Dover’s Megan Timpf – pushed a much more experienced Australian team to the brink and could not put them away, despite a very strong effort. Team Canada veterans Lauren Bay Regula (Trail, BC) and Alison Bradley (Pinkerton, ON) were the key contributors, but Australia came up with some timely hits to move on with a 5-3 win.
Before the game, the Canadians gathered around the on-deck circle and put their arms around each other, staying loose and positive as the biggest game of their lives was just in front of them. Lauren Bay Regula certainly did her part in motivating the Canadian squad, striking out the side in the top of the first before racing back to the dugout to high fives and smiles all around. It certainly looked like everyone was ready for this game, and it was certainly one to remember.
However, Australian lead-off hitter Sandy Lewis blasted a homerun to deep left field in the top of the second inning to open the scoring. Canada threatened in the bottom of the inning, as Sheena Lawrick (Calgary) walked, Timpf was hit by a pitch and Bradley singled to load the bases with one out, but Canada was unable to push a run in to score.
After Australia increased its lead to 2-0 on a sacrifice fly in the top of the third inning, the Canadian went right back to work, and were rewarded for their efforts. Melanie Matthews (Surrey, BC) led off the inning with a sharp single to right field, and after two quick outs, Matthews tried to make something happen and succeeded in doing so. She stole second base, and as the throw sailed into centerfield with nobody covering second base, she advanced to third. Jennifer Salling (Port Coquitlam, BC) forced a walk and stole second base, and Sheena Lawrick also forced a walk to load the bases for the second straight inning. Australia then pulled starting pitcher Melanie Roche in favour of Tanya Harding, but that was not enough to slow down the Canadian rally as Timpf forced yet another walk to allow Matthews to cross the plate. Alison Bradley then drove the second pitch she saw back up the middle to score two more runs, giving Canada the 3-2 lead.
That lead was short lived, as after two quick outs, Danielle Stewart drove a ball deep to left field for a game-tying solo homerun in the top of the fourth inning. Bay Regula and Harding continued to battle it out in the pitcher’s circle until the top of the sixth inning. Bay Regula struck out the two first batters, but ran into some trouble after loading the bases. Kerry Wyborn stuck the bat out and poked a single just over the outstretched glove of Erin McLean (Whitby, ON) at third base for a single, driving in two runs in the process.
Canada came out swinging in the bottom of the sixth and seventh inning, but was unable to put any runners on base, ending their chances for a medal despite a valiant effort.
Bay Regula gave everything she had in the pitcher’s circle, allowing four earned runs on five hits while striking out nine hitters. Bradley led Canada at the plate with two hits, while Matthews and Jennifer Yee (North Delta, BC) each singled.
Despite the loss, Canada was able to prove that it could compete with the best teams in the world. The fourth place finish is the best ever for Canada, which finished fifth in 1996 and 2004, and eighth in 2000. All the hard work and effort put in by the players and coaching staff certainly showed on the field.