Canada set to meet U.S. in softball playoff round

The Canadian Women`s National Team had already clinched second place in Group B with a win over Australia on Wednesday, but will move on to the playoff round on a high note after defeating Italy 8-0 in five innings to finish the round-robin with a 6-1 record on Thursday (July 19).

Jenna Caira (Toronto) fired a three-hit shutout for Team Canada, while Caitlin Lever (Buffalo, NY) hit a homerun and a double to drive in four runs to lead the Canadian offence. With the second-place finish, Canada enters the playoff round with two lives and will take on the United States in their first playoff game.

In the top of the first inning, Joey Lye (Toronto) ripped a one-out single over the shortstop’s head, but was left on base after a ground out and a strikeout. Caira then took to the pitcher’s circle and quickly struck out the side, sending Canada back to the plate. Jennifer Salling (Port Coquitlam, B.C.) started things off by hammering a double over the left fielder’s head, followed by a towering two-run homerun by Lever over the right field fence.

Megan Timpf (Port Dover) drew a walk and was sacrificed to second. After Melanie Matthews (Surrey, B.C.) also walked, Lye hit another single to score Timpf. Jenn Yee (North Delta, B.C.) walked to load the bases, and Sheena Lawrick (Calgary) hit a two-run single through the left side of the infield. A walk by Salling loaded the bases once again, and Lever drove a two-run double to give Canada the big 7-0 lead.

Canada added another run in the fourth, as Natalie Wideman (Mississauga) reached on an error and advanced to second on a single by Yee. Both runners advanced on a ground out before Salling drove in a run with a groundout to first base. Italy managed two hits in the bottom of the inning, but Caira was able to work herself out of trouble. The following inning, Caira forced a ground out right back to her and struck out the two last batters as Canada won the game in five innings on the run-ahead rule.

Caira had a fantastic outing in the pitcher’s circle for Canada, keeping Italy off-balance all game long. She only allowed three hits and struck out nine batters in the five inning shutout win. Lever led Canada at the plate with a homerun, a double and four runs batted in, while Lye added a pair of hits, an RBI and a run scored. Lawrick added a two-run single, and Salling had a double and an RBI. Yee rounded out Canada’s seven hits with a single.

In other scores on Day 7, Chinese Taipei (3-4) defeated New Zealand (2-5) by a 2-1 score to earn a playoff berth; the Czech Republic (3-4) beat South Africa (1-6) 8-1 in five innings; Australia (5-2) shut down Great Britain (2-5) 8-0 in five innings; the United States beat Argentina (1-6) by a 14-1 score in four innings; Japan (7-0) blanked Mexico (0-7) 9-0 in five innings; the Netherlands (5-2) defeated Puerto Rico (3-4) 7-1; and China (6-1) edged Venezuela (2-5) 1-0.