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Softball Canada – Chiba, Japan – The Canadian Women’s National Team earned two big wins to advance to the WBSC Women’s Softball World Championship medal round, defeating Puerto Rico 10-4 before registering a 12-0 win in four innings against Australia. Danielle Lawrie (Langley, B.C.) picked up both wins in the pitcher’s circle to improve her tournament record to 5-0, while the offence was firing on all cylinders to join the United States and Japan on the final day of competition with an Olympic berth on the line.
In the first game against Puerto Rico, Team Canada opened the scoring when Erika Polidori (Brantford, Ont.) hit a two-out homerun in the top of the first for a 1-0 lead. The following inning, Jenn Salling (Port Coquitlam, B.C.) singled, advanced to third on a double to left by Larissa Franklin (Maple Ridge, B.C.) and scored on a sacrifice fly to center by Kaleigh Rafter (Guelph, Ont.). Jenny Gilbert (Saskatoon, Sask.) then drove in Franklin with a single up the middle as Canada took an early 3-0 lead. Puerto Rico fought back in the bottom of the second, producing four runs on five hits off Canadian starter Jenna Caira (Toronto, Ont.) including a two-run homerun and a two-run single to take the lead.
Canada tied the game up on a two-out solo blast to left by Holly Speers (Surrey, B.C.) in the top of the third, and regained the lead in the fourth when Rafter hit a solo homerun to right-center. Lawrie relieved Caira to start the bottom of the third and retired Puerto Rico in order. She allowed a walk and a single in the fourth but was able to get out of the inning leaving both runners stranded. After neither teams were able to score in the fifth and sixth innings, Canada piled up five insurance runs in the top of the seventh to put the game out of reach. Joey Lye (Toronto, Ont.) reached on an error by the pitcher and Polidori was hit by a pitch to start the inning, and after a pop out and a fielder’s choice put runners on the corners with two outs, Franklin singled in a run followed by a walk by Rafter to load the bases. Gilbert then launched a grand slam to center to increase Canada’s lead to 10-4. Lawrie retired Puerto Rico in order in the bottom of the seventh to secure the win.
Box Score: Canada 10 vs. Puerto Rico 4
Caira allowed four runs on five hits and struck out two in two innings for Canada, while Lawrie picked up the win in relief by allowing only two hits and a walk to go along with eight strikeouts over five innings of work. At the plate, Gilbert had a huge game by going 3-for-3 with a grand slam, a double and five runs batted in, with Rafter, Polidori and Speers all connecting with solo homeruns. Franklin had two hits including a double and drove in a run.
With the win, Canada moved on to face Australia who advanced by defeating Mexico 2-1 in eight innings earlier in the day. Canada’s bats picked up right where they left off in the previous game, scoring five runs in the top of the first inning to jump to a big early lead. Victoria Hayward (Toronto, Ont.) led off with a single, stole second and was sacrificed to third by Lye before scoring on a double to right by Polidori. Speers hit a double of her own to score Polidori, with Salling following up with a two-run homerun to right forcing a pitching change by Australia. Franklin greeted the new pitcher by smashing a solo shot on the second pitch she saw as Canada built a 5-0 lead.
Lawrie sat Australia down in order in the first, but the Aussies got a single and took advantage of an error to put two runners on base in the second. Lawrie kept the momentum in Canada’s corner by notching a pair of strikeouts to keep them off the scoreboard. Team Canada put up another big inning in the top of the third, as Salling drew a leadoff walk followed by a single up the middle by Franklin before Gilbert doubled in a run. Janet Leung (Mississauga, Ont.) singled to left to score Franklin from third, with Hayward following that up with a three-run shot to center. Canada was not finished there, as Lye singled and moved up to second on a wild pitch before scoring on a two-run homerun by Polidori as Canada took a commanding 12-0 lead. Australia got a two-out triple in the third but couldn’t bring that runner in and made a great effort to extend the game in the fourth by getting a leadoff single and a two-out double to put runners on second and third, but Lawrie got a strikeout to earn the four-inning shutout victory.
Box Score: Canada 12 vs. Australia 0
Lawrie scattered four hits and struck out six batters in her four innings of work. Canada smashed four homeruns at the plate, with Polidori going 3-for-3 with a homerun, a double and three RBIs while Franklin stayed hot with another 3-for-3 game with a solo blast. Hayward had two hits including a three-run blast, with Salling adding a two-run shot. Gilbert and Speers each doubled in a run, with Leung contributing a run-scoring single.
With the two wins, Canada advanced to Sunday’s medal round. Japan and the United States are currently playing, with the winner of that game advancing directly to Sunday’s Gold medal game at 7:00pm JST (6:00am EDT). The loser of that game will face Canada at 2:00pm JST (1:00am EDT).
In Placement Round action on Saturday, Chinese Taipei outlasted Great Britain 13-11 and China beat Venezuela 8-2 to advance to the final. Chinese Taipei then earned the 6-4 win over China to win the Placement Round final and finish ninth.


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Gilles LeBlanc
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