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Women's World Qualifier: Canada staves off Puerto Rico in a fight to the finish

AGUASCALIENTES, Mexico – After consecutive losses at the COPABE Women’s World Qualifier, the Canadian Women’s National Team rebounded with a fight to the very end against Puerto Rico, coming out on top 9-7 on Friday.

The Canadian squad led the whole way through the game, after getting out to an early lead with one run in each of the first and second innings, adding three in the third and four in the fifth, but Puerto Rico was never far behind, held at just a far enough distance for the victory by a pair of relievers.

Britt Langlais (Garson, MB) was the first out of the bullpen in the matchup, the 20-year-old right-hander finishing three innings, allowing two runs on five hits with three walks and two strikeouts to keep the Puerto Ricans at bay. Katie Hagen (Dartmouth, NS) took the mound looking for the final three outs of the game, the 18-year-old righty entering with bases loaded and none out in the seventh.

“We battled again today,” Canadian manager Aaron Myette said. “That’s the theme of this tournament so far for us. To see our pitchers come back, Langlais and Hagen, and throw like they can after [starter Sophy] Gagne (Ste-Martine, QC) stepped up early in the game.

“It’s just the mentality of our team. I could point out 20 different things that impressed me, but as a whole, we continue to battle. We’re never out of it, despite circumstance, and I’m so proud of our team for that.”

In a game that saw 18 total walks issued, Hagen came in throwing strikes and ready for the fight to the finish. The three-year national team hurler allowed one hit and one free pass, striking out one to close out the matchup.

“The best part about today was definitely being put in that position,” Hagen said. “It was very exciting. That’s the position that every pitcher itches to get into – bases loaded, no outs, in the last inning. It was a big game to win.”

Amanda Asay (Prince George, BC) paced the offence, coming a triple shy of the cycle and hitting Canada’s third home run of the tournament, a two-run shot in the third inning. The 14-year national team veteran reached base four times and drove in four in the win, and was impressed by the young squad’s ability to bounce back after a pair of tough games.

“When you go up early and a team comes back, there’s a tendency to sort of fall apart,” Asay said. “We saw that especially in the last couple games, where we’ve had big innings against us. So for us to be able to rally away from that, come out and score some more runs, it’s great to see the offence step it up a little bit more.

“And we did come together a lot more solidly defensively and backed up our pitchers a ton, who struggled a bit with control, but we were able to put it together for them, which was really great.”

Kelsey Lalor (Red Deer, AB) reached base in all five of her plate appearances against Puerto Rico, the 21-year-old outfielder hitting three singles and walking twice, added a stolen base, a run scored and a run driven in on the night. National team rookies Ellie Jesperson (Spruce Grove, AB) and Sena Catterall (Pierrefonds, QB) also notched multi-hit matchups with two singles apiece.

“Obviously having that run support is always a good thing,” Myette said. “Lalor’s hitting the ball hard, Asay mashed that ball, and the girls are seeing the ball well. Everyone is picking up one another. Pitchers are picking up pitchers, hitters are picking up pitchers, and that’s a team. We fight for each other and we know we’re going to put the bat on the ball and we’re going to put up runs.”

While the win was incredibly welcome, Myette was most impressed by the fight his team showed and happy to see his players return to form.

“We came out, hit the ball hard, threw the ball well, and those two tough losses couldn’t keep us down,” Myette said. “We know our girls have that in them, and they stepped up and showed everybody that that’s not the real them. This is what we’re capable of, and it just shows me what I already know, that we’re a really good team.”

Added Asay: “We got put into a couple tight spots, and people just battled right through. It was a pretty stressful game, especially toward the end, and we were able to come together as a team and put the win together. Everyone contributed, so it was really good to see the team come together that way.”

COPABE is expected to live stream all remaining games here.

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