Brampton – The Canadian Junior Women’s National Team needed a win to lock up second place in Pool A on Thursday night (July 4) but came out on the losing end of a tight 2-1 game against New Zealand to conclude the preliminary round at the ISF Junior Women’s World Softball Championship in Brampton.
New Zealand hit a two-run homerun in the top of the second and held strong, while Canada could not capitalize on its chances and left 10 runners on base.
New Zealand went down in order in the top of the first, and Canada got things started quickly as leadoff batter Aspen Searle, who hit .391 in prelim play, singled. After a pair of fly outs, Sara Groenewegen (Surrey, BC) also hit a single, but both runners were left on base as the next batter grounded out. In the top of the second, New Zealand got a leadoff single of their own, and after a strikeout, the next batter hit a full count pitch just over the centerfield fence for a two-run homerun, giving New Zealand an early 2-0 lead.
Canada was able to get the leadoff runner on base again in the bottom of the second when Janet Leung (Mississauga) singled to right field. She was sacrificed to second, but was thrown out at the plate on a single to center field by Hailey Unger (Winnipeg). The next batter struck out to end the inning.
New Zealand was quickly retired in the top of the third, and Canada kept the pressure on in the bottom of the frame. Tori Charters (Winnipeg) slapped a hit to the pitcher and beat the drawn in first baseman to the base for the infield single, advanced to second on a ground out and after a walk by Groenewegen, scored on a sharp single to left field by Jordan Beck (Vancouver) as Canada cut the lead to 2-1 after three innings of play.
In the top of the fourth, New Zealand managed to get a leadoff single, but Canadian pitcher Jocelyn Cater (Delta, BC) was able to leave her stranded at by retiring the next three hitters. The red and white went down in order in the bottom of the inning, and New Zealand followed suit in the top half of the fifth. Canada went back to work offensively in the bottom of the fifth as Charters hit a soft line drive over second base for a single, advanced to second on a wild pitch, and to third on a ground out to the pitcher. Groenewegen was intentionally walked, but the next batter struck out after fouling several pitches deep to left field as New Zealand got out of the inning.
New Zealand didn’t get anything going in the sixth, while Canada got a pair of singles by Holly Speers (Surrey, BC) and Emma Entzminger (Victoria, BC), but the last batter was retired on a ground out to the first baseman as New Zealand tight-roped out of danger again. New Zealand went down in order once again in the seventh, setting the stage for Canada’s last chance to tie the game. Chelsea Jenner (Abbotsford, BC) got things going with a line drive over the third baseman’s head for a one-out single and advanced to second on a ground out to the pitcher. Beck then smashed a solid line drive deep to left field that the outfielder leapt for to make the game-ending catch.
Cater allowed two runs on only three hits with six strikeouts in five innings pitched, while Madison Schreyer (Winnipeg) pitched two innings of hitless relief. Canada pounded out 10 hits, as Charters had a pair of singles with Searle, Jenner, Groenewegen, Beck, Leung, Speers, Unger and Entzminger all adding a single as well. With that, all nine Canadian starters registered a hit.
The win pushed New Zealand (5-2) into second place in Pool A, while Canada (5-2) dropped down to third due to their head-to-head result. Canada will now play China (4-3; 4th in Pool B). Other playoff matchups will see Brazil (4-3; 3rd in Pool B) taking on Puerto Rico (4-3; 4th in Pool A); the United States (7-0; 1st in Pool A) against Australia (6-1; 2nd in Pool B); and Japan (7-0; 1st in Pool B) will square off with New Zealand (5-2; 2nd in Pool A).
Teams that did not qualify for the playoff round will compete in the consolation playoff round.
In other scores on the final day of the preliminary round, the United States blanked Korea 10-0 in four innings and New Zealand 7-0 in five innings; Japan defeated Mexico 10-0 in four innings and Singapore 17-0 in three innings; Australia shut out Botswana 10-0 in six innings and Brazil 8-0 in five innings; Brazil edged China 1-0; the Netherlands beat Singapore 20-0 in three innings; Korea doubled Great Britain 4-2; Mexico defeated Botswana 4-3; and China edged the Netherlands 1-0.