Canada advances with win over China

July 6, 2013

Brampton, ON


Photo by Bryon Johnson

Canada's Aspen Searle (9), playing second base, makes an awkward throw to first after making a diving catch during playoff action against China at the Junior Women's World Fastpitch Championships. Searle made the out and Canada advanced with a 4-0 win.



Canada advances with win over China

Brampton Guardian

ByStuart McComish

BRAMPTON – The weather was the most prominent player on the first day of playoff action at the ISF Junior Women’s World Fastpitch Championships.

Heavy rains played havoc with the early schedule of games at the old Brampton Fairgrounds forcing Canada to endure two rain delays totaling five hours before finishing a 4-0 win over China.

Canada now advances to the next round and will meet Australia at 11:30 a.m. Saturday. The Aussies fell 7-0 to USA on Friday evening.

The game began at 11:30 a.m. under a persistent drizzle that rapidly escalated to a downpour. The umpires halted the game three batters into the first inning 14 minutes later and the game did not resume again until 3:24 p.m. The teams played into the bottom of the sixth inning before a downpour halted play for another 62 minutes.

"It was a marathon today," said Canadian head coach Melissa Basilio. "We had our pre-game at 9:30 a.m. It can be a physical thing, but it’s more mentally draining for the girls. They need to regroup, then there is a break, then they have to be ready to go again. You can tell them how to handle it, but it is up to them to refocus and get back in the game and they did that."

Sara Groenewegen pitched a seven-inning no hitter while striking out 11. She allowed one walk and hit two batters. Miranda Castiglione of Brampton provided all the offence Canada would need when she clubbed a solo home run in the second inning.

Groenewegen, who didn’t allow a ball out of the infield, said the delays posed little problem.

"You can’t control the weather. For me it’s not so much physical, but mental. You need to go in after every delay thinking it’s a new game. My infield really helped me out today."

"She threw strikes," said Basilio. "The conditions weren’t great for either pitcher, but she trusted her defence."

Shortstop Janet Leung of Mississauga provided the defensive highlight of the game in the fourth inning. Groenewegen hit the leadoff hitter, Wang Jingjia, and the next hitter, Miao Dan, hammered a hard line drive that Leung snared as she lunged to her right. Leung then doubled off Jingjia.

"It was an unreal play," said Groenewegen. "Janet is a stellar shortstop. I trust my infielders and know they will be there to make the plays when they have to."

"Janet has made some big plays for us," said Basilio. "If there are any balls hit to her left or right we think there is a chance she will get them."

The Canadians, who had only scored one run in their previous two games, losses to the United States and New Zealand, stranded leadoff hitter Aspen Searle at third in the first. But Castiglione came up with one out in the second and hammered Chinese starter Jia Yingling’s second pitch over the left-field fence. Leung, who walked one batter later, later scored on Searle’s single.

"Miranda’s hit was a sigh of relief for us and real momentum changer," said Groenewegen. "We have been struggling at the plate."

The Canadians capitalized on some Chinese errors in the fourth.

Castiglione, leading off the inning, ended up at second after Liu Yanmin dropped her routine pop fly in left field. Castiglione scored on Holly Speers’s single two batters later and Speers ended up at third after right fielder Shu Qinshuang bobbled the ball. Speers later scored on Emma Entzminger’s single.

"We didn’t hit the ball quite as hard today as we have in other games, but we got some breaks," said Basilio.

Yingling left with one out in the fourth. Reliever Yuan Minghan was outstanding the rest of the way allowing one hit and striking out eight.

"She was really good and I was surprised she didn’t make the start," said Groenewegen. "We need to make adjustments against pitchers like that."

NOTES: Castiglione, who didn’t play in a 2-1 loss to New Zealand on Thursday night, was 1-for-3 at the plate with two runs scored … Leung went 0-for-1 with a walk and run scored. She also made a running catch of a hit off the bat of Jingjia to end the sixth … Botswana, which lost 11-3 to Korea in consolation-round play, was to be feted in the evening at Cassie Campbell Recreation Centre. The team was to try ice skating for the first time … Two consolation games scheduled for Friday were moved to 2 p.m. Saturday … Peter Loubardias, onetime television play-by-play voice for the National Hockey League’s Calgary Flames and the Canadian Hockey League on Rogers Sportsnet, provided commentary on the internet stream of the game.