AGUASCALIENTES, Mexico – Canada’s Women’s National Team came out strong to get the ball rolling in the COPABE World Cup qualifier, with an 11-1 victory over the Dominican Republic in a mercy rule-shortened five innings on Sunday in Aguascalientes.
The offensive outburst to back a solid start from 17-year-old right-hander Alli Schroder (Fruitvale, BC) was exactly what first-time Team Canada manager Aaron Myette was hoping to see from his squad.
“That’s a fantastic start,” Myette said. “Obviously the score speaks for itself, but there were a lot of little things we’re seeing on the field – some fantastic plays in the outfield, fantastic plays defensively, nice picks, aggressive baserunning, aggressive at-bats. I didn’t suspect any nerves but the girls went out and played and they were themselves. I was probably more nervous than any of them.”
Contributions came from up and down the lineup, backing a five-inning, complete-game victory from Schroder. The young hurler allowed just one run on three hits in her five frames, walking five, hitting one, and striking out five. Schroder stranded the bases loaded in the third and fifth innings, working around her high-stress frames to help the team to the win.
“I’m super proud of her,” the skipper said. “We’ve seen her battle before, and I knew in those situations that she’s capable of getting out of those, and she did again. The command was a little off today, that happens as a pitcher, but when you pitch without having your best stuff and still have success, that’s really pitching.”
Three players notched multi-hit contests in their first games of the tournament, with leadoff hitter Ellie Jesperson (Spruce Grove, AB) singling twice, stealing a base, scoring a run and driving in one, left fielder Kelsey Lalor (Red Deer, AB) with a single, double, RBI and three runs scored, and third baseman Maddie Willan (Edmonton, AB) with a single, double, stolen base, RBI and two runs scored.
Eight members of the team’s starting lineup reached base, and seven different players scored runs for the Canadian side. Claire Eccles (Surrey, BC), Emma Carr (Toronto, ON) and Alexane Fournier (St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, QC) drove in two runs apiece, with 20-year-old Carr adding multiple highlight-reel catches in right field.
“They kept their composure,” Myette said. “It’s easier to keep your composure in a game that you should win, but there were a few tough innings defensively and on the mound where we were in some small jams, and we need to step up and get out of that. They didn’t get too high, didn’t get too low, consistently had good at-bats, ran the bases well, and that’s what good teams do.”
With eight players on the Canadian roster facing international opponents for the first time with the national team, and an average age of 20 years old, the win over the Dominican Republic offered not only a chance to get a head start in the tournament, but also to have some of the young players get their feet wet as the competition continues.
“This puts us in a really good head space for a young team to get a first win, especially with a young pitcher on the mound, to gain some confidence,” third-base coach Ashley Stephenson said. “There’s a lot of pressure on a lot of young girls in new positions, so for them to be able to get a lot of firsts out of the way, including the first win as a team, and do it quite well, is super important for us.”
Added Schroder: “In any scenario, in any competition, it’s always good for the team to get the first win. Just to get that win is a good feeling moving forward, and it gives us a lot of confidence we can take with us. Personally, I need to throw more strikes, but today was a good way to see where we stand. For everybody, we know we can do better, but we had a really good game.”
Up next: The Women’s National Team will take on Nicaragua as the visitors on Monday, with first pitch set for 2:30 p.m. CT.
2019 Women’s National Team roster
2019 COPABE World Cup qualifier schedule
You can also find all the latest information on our Women’s National Team Twitter account: @BaseballCANWNT