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Softball Canada – Chiba, Japan – The Canadian Women’s National Team went toe-to-toe with Japan and one defensive miscue was the only difference as they dropped a 2-0 decision at the WBSC Women’s Softball World Championship. Canada threatened Japanese pitcher Yukiko Ueno early, but a weather delay broke up its momentum and Japan later took advantage of a two-out error that allowed both of its runs to score in the third.
In the top of the first, Jenna Caira (Toronto, Ont.) hit the second batter she faced, and the runner later stole second, but Japan was unable to score as Caira struck out a batter and got two ground outs. Victoria Hayward (Toronto, Ont.) led off the bottom of the inning with a single into short center field, followed by a single by Erika Polidori (Brantford, Ont.) off the drawn in first baseman and a walk by Jenn Salling (Port Coquitlam, B.C.) to load the bases with no outs. Ueno got a strikeout for the first out and after two pitches to the next batter, the teams were brought into the dugouts due to poor field conditions. When play resumed, Ueno got two strikeouts to escape the inning and end Canada’s threat.
Caira went back to work in the top of the second and got two groundouts and a strikeout for a clean inning. Larissa Franklin (Maple Ridge, B.C.) lined a one-out single over shortstop but Kaleigh Rafter (Guelph, Ont.) hit a hard liner back to Ueno who was able to gather it and throw it over to first for an inning-ending double play. Sara Plourde (Baker Lake, N.B.) replaced Caira in the pitcher’s circle to start the third and allowed a one-out single, and after a wild pitch moved the runner up to second, Caira re-entered the game. The runner advanced to third on a passed ball, with Caira getting a strikeout on a fantastic changeup before hitting the next batter. The following hitter hit a tough ground ball past the pitcher to second with the throw to first slightly off the mark to allow both runners to score as Japan took a 2-0 lead.
Hayward led off the bottom of the third by reaching on a ground ball that eluded the first baseman, was sacrificed to second by Polidori and moved up to third by tagging up on a deep fly ball to right-center by Salling. However, the next batter popped out behind third base for the final out of the inning. Caira sat Japan down in order in the fourth, and Jenny Gilbert (Saskatoon, Sask.) lined a one-out single to left before moving up to second on a ground out but a lineout to shortstop cut the rally short.
In the fifth, Japan got a one-out single and the runner stole second, then third on a ball in the dirt, but Caira picked up a pair of big strikeouts to hold the score at 2-0. After Canada went down on three groundouts, Danielle Lawrie (Langley, B.C.) came in to pitch to start the sixth and allowed a one-out double that dropped in front of the diving left fielder. She bounced right back by inducing a pair of pop outs on the infield. Ueno sat Canada down in order in each of the last three innings to hold on for the win.
Box Score: Japan 2 vs. Canada 0
Caira was great in the pitcher’s circle, allowing only one unearned run on one hit and two hit batters while striking out seven batters in four innings and two thirds. Plourde took the tough loss by allowing the winning run to reach base with a single, with that run also being unearned. Lawrie allowed a hit and struck out two in two innings of relief. Hayward, Polidori, Gilbert and Franklin all singled for Canada, who outhit Japan 4-3.
Team Canada (4-2) dropped to third place in Group B and will finish its preliminary round schedule against Botswana (0-6) at 3:30pm JST (2:30am EDT). There is still a possibility of a three-way tie for second place in the group, with Australia (5-1) scheduled to take on Japan (6-0) as the final round-robin game on Wednesday and China (4-2) facing Italy (3-3) earlier in the day at 10:00am JST. Live scoring is available through the WBSC Women’s Softball World Championship website, with live streaming available at (paid subscription required).
Other scored on Tuesday saw Puerto Rico remain undefeated with a 4-1 win over New Zealand and the United States doing the same with a 7-0 win over South Africa, setting up a first-place showdown between them on Wednesday. Botswana suffered a 10-0 loss to Great Britain and a 15-1 loss to China, Chinese Taipei got by the Philippines 9-7, Mexico edged both the Netherlands and New Zealand by 1-0 scores, Italy earned a 3-1 win over Venezuela, and Australia shut out Great Britain 11-0.  


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