The inaugural Asia Pacific Cup trophy is heading to Japan after they beat a gallant Aussie Spirit in the final at Blacktown International Sportspark.
In a grand final that was televised on Fox Sports in Australia and throughout Asia, the Japanese team put on a wonderful exhibition of pitching and defence, with some timely hitting thrown in as well.
DAY FOUR GAME REPORTS
Shortstop Marta Gasparotto led the charge as Italy won their second game of the tournament.
Gasparotto had three hits, two of them doubles, and three RBIs and the Italians piled on runs early and refused to concede any.
Alice Nicolini pitched effectively for the winners, not striking anyone out but lasting five innings and allowing only three hits and one walk.
Shortstop Shannon Hearne was the only New Zealand player to register multiple hits.
In the only extra-inning game of the tournament, Jessica Torpey reached on an infield single, scoring Carmelle Sorensen in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Aussie Spirit a thrilling win over Italy.
Vanessa Stokes pitched three innings for no earned runs, and was relieved by Stephanie Trzcinski, who pitched the remaining six scoreless innings and allowed just three hits and one walk, with four strikeouts.
Italian pitcher Greta Cecchetti was the unlucky loser after a gallant effort in pitching into the ninth inning.
To nobody’s surprise, Japan won their way into the grand final by shutting out Chinese Taipei.
Yukari Hamamura pitched six strong innings without conceding a run, with eight strikeout, to continue the trend of Japan squeezing the life out of opposition hitters.
Chinese Taipei stating pitcher Ying-Hsin Lin was also impressive but lacked support from her defence, which made four errors. She pitched 4.2 innings without allowing an earned run, striking out six.
Japan managed to win comfortably despite managing only four base hits, the same total as their opponents. Yamato Fujita was the only player to have multiple hits.
The Aussie Spirit put this one away early, scoring five runs in the first two innings.
Stacey Porter had a two-run double in the first inning, then went one better in the second, belting a two run homer to left centre field.
Leigh Godfrey, Jade Wall, Belinda White and Clare Warwick also hit safely.
A five-run lead was more than enough for Spirit starting pitcher Kaia Parnaby, who cruised through seven innings and allowed seven hits and one walk, with eight strikeouts.
China’s Ying Lu and Yining Liu each had two hits.
The amazing Japanese team went into the game having conceded just two runs for the tournament and did not tarnish that record, shutting out the Australians and winning 3-0.
After two scoreless innings, Japan put the first run on the board as Natsuko Sugama tripled to right, scoring Nodoka Harada. An inning later, Japan had three singles and a sacrifice fly to add two more runs.
Pitcher Yamato Fujita, backed by exceptional defence behind her, kept the Spirit batters in check for the entire game, allowing just one hit and one walk.
While Clare Warwick had Australia’s only base hit of the game, the Japanese racked up eight, with Nozomi Nagasaki collecting two of them.
Ellen Roberts and Amelia Cudicio were the most effective of the Spirit pitchers, combining to pitch 5.1 innings for one earned run.
4. Chinese Taipei
5. All Stars
7. New Zealand
Individual Award Winners
Player of the Grand Final – Yamato Fujita (Japan)
Best Pitcher – Yukari Hamamura (Japan)
Best Batter – Feng-Chen Lin (Chinese Taipei)
Most Valuable Player – Natsuko Sugama (Japan)
Individual award winners received Easton batpacks and were presented their awards by WBSC Hall of Fame members Brooke Wilkins, Melanie Roche, Alan McAuliffe and Audrey McLaughlin AM.
Photos courtesy of Sam Donkin Photography.
Player of the Grand Final, Yamato Fujita, presented by Brooke Wilkins
Best Pitcher, Yukari Hamamura, presented by Melanie Roche
Best Batter, Feng-Chen Lin, presented by Alan McAuliffe
Most Valuable Player, Natsuko Sagama, presented by Audrey McLaughlin AM
Top performers of the 2018 Asia Pacific Cup