Canada holds onto second place in softball

For the second time in as many days, Canada’s national team got off to a slow start before erupting for nine runs in one inning at the World Junior Women’s Softball Championship on Wednesday (Dec. 14).

Canada mercied Czech Republic 11-1 to finish in second place in Pool A with a 6-1 record behind the United States (7-0). Canada will now have double-life in the playoff round and will play Japan – the first place team from Pool B.

The Czech Republic took a 1-0 lead in the second inning when they hit a homerun off starting and winning pitcher Natalie Becker (Waterloo, ON). The Czechs held Canada to two walks over the first two innings before the red and white exploded for nine runs in the bottom of the third.

Tessa Loewen (Abbotsford, BC) led off with a walk and moved to second on a passed ball before Jennifer Gilbert (Saskatoon) slapped a ball past the first baseman that the Czech right fielder misplayed, allowing Loewen to score. Gilbert ended up on second after losing her footing going around first base, and Victoria Hayward (Toronto) was then issued an intentional walk. Gilbert stole third base and Hayward moved to second before Erika Polidori (Brantford) hit a hard line drive that handcuffed the Czech shortstop and ended up in left field to score Gilbert.

Jaycee Affeldt (Maple Ridge, BC) lined a single to center to score Hayward and put Canada up by a score of 3-1. Affeldt was replaced by pinch runner Larissa Franklin (Maple Ridge, BC), and Carey-Leigh Thomas (Ohsweken) drew a walk to load the bases before Natalie Wideman (Mississauga) hit a ground ball to the shortstop who threw to home to force out Polidori. Shannon Davidson (Whitby, ON) followed by driving in Franklin and Thomas with a single to right field. Kristy Noble (Uxbridge, ON) then stepped up and lined a double to right-center field to score Wideman and Davidson. Loewen walked and Gilbert drilled another single to right field to score both Noble and Loewen. Hayward flew out to end the inning as Canada sent 12 batters to the plate.

In the top of the fourth, Madison Schreyer (Winnipeg) came in relief for Becker. She walked the first batter she faced and was able to get an out before allowing a single to put runners on first and second. After Schreyer struck out the next batter for the second out, catcher Natalie Wideman caught the Czech runner too far off first base and Canada got the third out in a rundown between second and third. Canada then scored two more runs to end the game on the run rule when Polidori was safe on another Czech error, Affeldt doubled to left-center to move Polidori to third and Thomas ended the game with a double off the left field fenced that drove in both runners.

Canada registered seven hits but a number of hard drives caused the Czechs to make four errors to help Canada’s cause. Gilbert and Affeldt each had two hits while Affeldt had three runs batted in. Thomas and Noble both doubled with two runs batted in each and Davidson added a two-run single. Becker picked up the win as the duo of Becker and Schreyer combined to allow one run on three hits with four strikeouts.