The Aussie Spirit’s wonderful run at the Canada Cup came to an end in the championship game at the hands of all-powerful Japan.
The Japanese took the title with a 7-1 win but were made to fight for the whole seven innings, unlike most of their previous games in the tournament.
The Spirit reached the final the hard way, having to beat Venezuela in an earlier game to earn the right to play Japan. While the 7-0 final score suggests an easy win for the Spirit, it was a tight contest until they blew the game open with four runs in the fifth inning.
Stacey Porter led the offensive charge, pounding two home runs, walking twice, scoring two runs and driving in three. Leigh Godfrey also had a good game, with two hits, two runs scored and an RBI. Clare Warwick and Erin Thras had the Spirit’s other hits.
The seven runs scored were more than enough for Kaia Parnaby, who pitched a complete game and allowed just one hit and one walk, with eight strikeouts.
It was a comprehensive win against quality opposition, but the Spirit players did not have much time to savour the victory. Up next was Japan, the top-ranked team in the world and dominant team of the Canada Cup.
Having lost to the Japanese 14-2 in three innings the previous day, the Spirit set about making sure that didn’t happen again. But the Japanese quickly showed why they are so highly ranked, scoring three runs in the first two innings.
The Spirit pegged a run back in the bottom of the third when Leigh Godfrey doubled and scored Porter’s single.
That was the end of the scoring, although Belinda White, Erin Thras and Jess Torpey all had base hits.
Pitching duties were shared by Ellen Roberts, Kaia Parnaby and Simone Freeman.
Porter, with a batting average of .565, was rewarded for a sensational Canada Cup by being named to the tournament All Star team.