Oklahoma City, OK – The Canadian Women’s National Team opened its US World Cup of Softball VII schedule with a 7-6 loss to the Netherlands on Thursday (June 28). Canada jumped out to early leads but the Netherlands were able to fight back a few times before taking their first lead of the game on an error in the top of the seventh inning and held on to win the game.
Canada started the game very well, as starting pitcher Jenna Caira (Toronto) retired the side in order with two strikeouts in the top of the first, and Melanie Matthews (Surrey, B.C.) blasted a solo homerun to begin the bottom half of the inning. Kaleigh Rafter (Guelph) later hit a two-out single and Sheena Lawrick (Calgary) drew a walk before Kelsey Haberl (Burnaby, BC) hit a fly ball to right field that was dropped by the outfielder, allowing Rafter to score and give Canada an early 2-0 lead.
The Netherlands threatened in the top of the second. After a one-out double, Karin Tuk hit a two-out single to plate the runner on second, and the next batter hit a ground-rule double to put runner on second and third. However, Caira struck out the next batter to get out of the inning with a 2-1 lead. In the bottom of the inning, Joey Lye (Toronto) led off with a single and advanced to second after a walk by Matthews, and then scored when a bunt by Victoria Hayward (Toronto) was fielded by the pitcher and thrown to first. Lye was thrown out at the plate, but was awarded the run as she had been obstructed at third base, giving Canada a 3-1 lead after two innings of play.
In the third, the Netherlands were able to score two runs on a single by Virginie Anneveld, but Canada would go on to score three runs in the bottom of the inning. With two outs, Haberl hit a single and scored on a two-run homerun by Heather Ebert (Rosthern, SK). Lye followed that up with a single, and scored all the way from first on a double off the centerfielder’s glove by Megan Timpf (Port Dover).
After a scoreless fourth inning, Caira hit a batter but managed to get two outs in the top of the fifth, but then gave up an RBI double. Jocelyn Cater (Delta, BC) came on in relief and allowed a pair of RBI singles, as Netherlands tied the game at 6-6. In the bottom of the inning, Haberl led off with a single and was replaced by pinch runner Carey-Leigh Thomas (Ohsweken). After advancing to second on a soft ground ball in front of the plate, Thomas advanced to third on a single by Lye. After a pitching change, Lye got herself into a rundown but the shortstop threw Thomas out at the plate on the play.
After two quick outs, Canada loaded the bases in the bottom of the sixth when Jenn Yee (North Delta, BC) hit a solid ground ball that bounced off the second baseman’s chest, Rafter hit a single and Lawrick forced another walk. However, the next batter popped out to the shortstop to end the inning. In the top of the seventh, the Netherlands managed a leadoff single and the runner advanced to second on a ground out. The runner then tried to steal third and the Canadian catcher threw the ball into left field which allowed the run to score and give the Netherlands their first lead of the game. In the bottom of the seventh, Lye produced her fourth single of the game and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt, but the next batter popped out to the catcher in foul territory to end the game.
Caira pitched four and two thirds innings for Canada, allowing five runs on seven hits and one walk, but struck out 11 batters. Cater pitched two innings and a third in relief, allowing two runs on four hits with three strikeouts. Lye paced Canada at the plate with four singles, while Rafter and Haberl each had two hits. Matthews and Ebert each hit a homerun, while Yee and Timpf rounded out Canada’s 12 hits.