Canada edged by New Zealand in 2-1 thriller

July 5, 2013

Brampton, ON

Canada edged by New Zealand in 2-1 thriller

Brampton Guardian

ByStuart McComish          
BIG SWING:                             Photo by Bryon Johnson
Mississauga's Janet Leung watches the ball as she bats against New Zealand during the Junior World Women's Fastpitch preliminary round contest on Thursday. Canada lost 2-1 and meets China in the opening game of the medal round on Friday at 11:30 a.m. at the old Fairgrounds in Brampton.

                            BRAMPTON – One swing of the bat was all New Zealand needed Thursday night.                        

                            Taylor Stewart’s two-run home run in the second inning brought in all the offence the Kiwis would need as they edged Canada 2-1 in a thrilling end to section play at the ISF Junior Women’s World Fastpitch Championships at the old Brampton Fairgrounds.                        

                            Both teams finished with 5-2 records in Section A, but New Zealand’s win moved the Kiwis into second place in the section and into a quarterfinal matchup with Japan, which finished atop Section B with a 7-0 record at 7:30 p.m. Friday. The United States was the top team in Section A with a 7-0 mark.                        

                            Canada, which lost 4-0 to the Americans on Wednesday night, will move on to meet China, which finished fourth in Section B with a 4-3 log at 11:30 a.m. Friday.                        

“There’s less time for the girls to think about what happened here,” said Canadian head coach Melissa Basilio. “What’s done is done, we need to move on and look ahead to China. The upside for us is the girls were moving the ball. They were hitting line shots and swinging the bat well. We are going to carry that into tomorrow and hope we find some holes.”                        

China finished section play with a 1-0 win over the Netherlands.                        

“They will be a solid defensive team with good pitching,” said Basilio. “We need to find some holes against them, if we hit it to them they will make those plays. We need to keep swinging the bat the way we have and hopefully get some breaks.”                        

Canadian starter Jocelyn Cater set the Kiwis down in order in the first, but Kubaroa Ratu-James led off the second with a single. Cater struck out Elizabeth Stavert, but Stewart battled the lefthander to a full count before depositing a pitch over the centre-field fence. New Zealand would only enjoy one more baserunner the rest of the way.                        

“We got her to a full count and she took a good swing and the ball left the park,” said Basilio. “We had some good swings too. They are a good club.”                        

Cater went five innings, allowed three hits, struck out six and didn’t allow a walk. Madison Schreyer set the Kiwis down in order in the final two innings.                        

“We have a great pitching staff and we are confident in going with anybody tomorrow,” said Basilio. ”They’ll keep us in the game.”                         

Canada’s first inning at the plate proved ominous. The Canadians stroked two singles, but left both runners stranded, a theme that repeated itself through the night. Janet Leung led off the second with a single, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Holly Speers but was thrown out at the plate by centre fielder Kingsley Avery trying to score on a single by Hailey Unger.                        

                            The Canadians got on the board in the third when Jordan Beck drove home Victoria Charters.  Canada threatened in each of the final three innings but New Zealand starter Stavert struck out Beck with runners at first and third and Stewart, who came on in relief in the fifth, finished the game by getting Beck to line out to left field. The Canadians produced 10 hits but left 10 runners stranded.                        

“We knew this would be a big game,” said Basilio. “Both teams worked hard. We hit the ball well and didn’t get the breaks. We took good swings and hit hard shots right at them. An inch either way and those balls get through and we get some runs.”                        

Friday’s other quarterfinals will see Brazil meet Puerto Rico at 2 p.m. and the United States against Australia at 5 p.m.                        

                            In Thursday’s other action at the Fairgrounds, Australia beat Botswana 10-0, Brazil edged China 1-0, the Netherlands blasted Singapore 20-0, Australia shut out Brazil 8-0, Mexico shaded Botswana 4-3 and Japan crushed Singapore 17-0.                        

                            At Fletcher’s, the United States blanked Korea 10-0, Japan shut out Mexico 10-0, the United States routed New Zealand 7-0 and Korea beat Great Britain 4-2. Puerto Rico and the Czech Republic each earned wins via forfeit over Venezuela.                        

                            NOTES:  Miranda Castiglione of Brampton did not play against New Zealand. She finished section play with five hits in 13 at-bats for an average of .385 and three runs batted in … Leung, from Mississauga, had five hits in 17 at-bats for an average of .294. She hit one home run and drove in four runs. Leung, Canada’s shortstop, made a diving catch on a sinking liner from Emma Francis to make the first out of the fifth … New Zealand first baseman Keri Simeon made a fine stab of a hard shot from Unger in the fourth … As a team Canada batted .313 in section play with three home runs and 16 extra-base hits … Canada’s pitchers gave up 20 hits, allowed three walks, struck out 48 and produced an earned-run average of 1.44 … The Kiwis were backed by a small, but vocal, group of supporters … Prior to the game New Zealand performed a Haka, the traditional dance made famous by the country’s national rugby team, the All Blacks. The Canadians observed while standing along the third-base line … An impromptu rendition of “O Canada” broke out among many seated in the bleachers behind home plate before Canada came to the plate in the sixth.