VIERA, Florida – A battle between the No. 1 and 2 ranked women’s baseball nations in the world lived up to the hype but it was five-time defending WBSC Women’s Baseball World Cup champions Japan (3-0) who came out on top in a hard-fought, 2-1 win over Canada (2-1).
Facing two-time World Cup MVP Ayami Sato who defeated Canada in the 2016 world championship contest, the Canadian women came out swinging and outhit Japan 8-2 but fell short on the scoreboard.
“I think we proved tonight that we have what it takes to beat Japan,” said Canadian Manager André Lachance after the game. “Our players, and many of our younger players were not intimidated tonight and we had success.
“We feel good about ourselves and hope to get a shot at (Japan) later in the tournament.”
The weather played a factor for the third consecutive game causing a delay in the bottom of the first, and when play resumed Hannah Martensen (Ottawa, ON) took over on the mound from starter Liz Gilder (Port Moody, BC). Martensen inherited a runner on third with one out before issuing a pair of walks to load the bases. Japan’s Chihiro Funakoshi then dropped a bunt down with catcher Ella Matteucci’s (Fruitvale, BC) only play being to first base that allowed Tomomi Nakada to score the game’s first run.
Canada threated in the second loading the bases with two out before Sato got Niki Boyd (Surrey, BC) to fly out to right and Martensen escaped a bases loaded, none out jam in the third getting a fly out to shallow right before a nifty 5-3 double play.
Madison Willan (Edmonton, AB) took over on the mound in the fourth and held Japan off the scoreboard, but in the fifth a walk and a pair of costly errors extended their lead to 2-0.
“Over time if you give a team like Japan opportunity they’re going to take advantage and that’s what happened in some situations tonight,” explained Lachance. “We put some players in tough spots tonight and I’m really happy with the way that they handled them.”
Canada finally got to Sato in the sixth with three hits and it was the youngest player on the squad, 16-year-old Emma March, who came up with a pinch-hit single to right that scored Kelsey Lalor (Red Deer, AB). Sato loaded the bases on a walk to Anne-Sophie Lavallée (Boucherville, QC) but fanned Niki Boyd to end the inning with the bases loaded.
“Sato still made pitches when she needed to and kept her team in the game,” added Lachance. “It was pretty exciting for us to see some of the contact we were able to get off of her. Hopefully this will give our hitters confidence moving forward.”
Canada managed to get the tying and go ahead runs on base in the seventh with Daphnée Gelinas (Repentigny, QC) and Kelsey Lalor each picking up their second hit of the game, but reliever Akino Tanaka stranded both to secure the victory.
UP NEXT: Canada will now focus their attention on tomorrow’s match-up against Australia (6PM ET) as Group B play in the Opening Round continues…The game will be streamed on the WBSC YouTube channel.
WBSC Women’s Baseball World Cup Website
WBSC YouTube Channel
Baseball Canada Women’s National Team Roster