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Softball Canada – Irvine, Calif. – The Canadian Women’s National Team opened its USA Softball International Cup schedule with a pair of victories on Monday, defeating Mexico 9-4 before fighting back to earn a 3-2 walk-off win against Venezuela. Canada jumped on Mexico with four runs in the top of the first and added four more in the fifth in the first game, while the red and white fought back from a 2-0 deficit to score a run in the bottom of the fifth and sixth innings before Victoria Hayward (Toronto, Ont.) hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the seventh against Venezuela.
In the opening game, Team Canada wasted no time getting on the board as Joey Lye (Toronto, Ont.) singled, Hayward walked and Jenn Salling (Port Coquitlam, B.C.) singled to load the bases before Jenny Gilbert (Saskatoon, Sask.) and Kelsey Jenkins (Delta, B.C.) hit back-to-back two-run doubles. Sara Groenewegen (Surrey, B.C.) got the start for Canada in the pitcher’s circle and cruised through the first two innings but ran into trouble in the third. After a leadoff single, Mexico laid a sacrifice bunt that was thrown away at first to put runners on second and third before the next batter doubled to bring both runners in to score. An RBI single and an RBI double later in the innings tied the game up at 4-4 before Jenna Caira (Toronto, Ont.) came out to shut the door in relief.
The top of Canada’s lineup went back to work in the top of the fifth with Lye and Hayward each reaching bases on singles before Salling hit a run-scoring single to right field. Holly Speers (Surrey, B.C.) followed with a two-run double to left before scoring on a single to left by Jenkins to give Canada an 8-4 lead. Gilbert added an RBI single in the top of the sixth to round out the scoring, with Caira shutting Mexico down over the final four innings and a third allowing only one hit and striking out eight batters.
Box Score: Canada 9 vs. Mexico 4
The game against Venezuela started out as pitcher’s duel between Canada’s Karissa Hovinga (Edmonton, Alta.) and Venezuela’s Jamee Juarez. Both pitchers held their opponents scoreless through four innings, with Hovinga allowing three singles but getting a pair of double plays and a runner that was caught stealing to wipe out the threats. Team Canada managed a two-out double by Erika Polidori (Brantford, Ont.) in the bottom of the second and a walk in the fourth but was unable to move those runners any further.
Sara Plourde (Baker Lake, N.B.) came out in relief of Hovinga to start the fifth inning and Venezuela jumped on her with a leadoff double followed by three singles to take a 2-0 lead. Plourde settled in and got a pop out to the catcher, a fly out to right and a ground out to leave the bases loaded. Polidori cut the lead in half in the bottom of the fifth inning with a solo homerun to center, and Canada quickly loaded the bases on a pair of singles by Lye and Jenkins and a walk to Hayward with no outs in the bottom of the sixth. A fielder’s choice allowed the tying run to score from third, but the next batter grounded into a fielder’s choice with Lye being thrown out at home followed by another ground out as Venezuela escaped the inning with the game tied 2-2.
Team Canada picked up where it left off in the bottom of the seventh as Polidori and Janet Leung (Mississauga, Ont.) both walked to start the inning and were sacrificed to second and third by Larissa Franklin (Maple Ridge, B.C.). After a pop out on the infield for the second out and an intentional walk to Lye loaded the bases, Hayward drilled a two-out walk-off single to left to give Canada the 3-2 win.
Box Score: Canada 3 vs. Venezuela 2
Team Canada (2-0) will return to action with a game against Colombia (0-0) at 4:30pm PDT on Tuesday. Other International Cup scores on Monday were Puerto Rico picking up a 5-0 win over China, Japan blanked the Czech Republic 2-0, the Scrap Yard Dawgs shut out Puerto Rico 7-0, USA Blue shut down the Czech Republic 15-0 and USA Red defeated Peru 14-0.


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Gilles LeBlanc

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