World Championship Game Six: China 2, Australia 0.
The Aussie Spirit’s chances of earning a medal at the Softball World Championship vanished as they were beaten 2-0 by China in the final game of the second round of pool games.
A dominant performance by Chinese pitcher Lan Wang spelled doom for the Aussies, who battled hard but could not score, eventually losing 2-0.
Head coach Fabian Barlow said the outcome was very disappointing, but paid tribute to Wang’s performance.
“We faced a tough and experienced pitcher tonight who threw a strong game and we didn’t adjust quickly enough.” Barlow said.
Coupled with the defeat the previous day against the USA, the loss against China eliminated the Spirit from medal contention.
“We need to regroup over the next 24 hours and represent the Aussie Spirit uniform as best we can in difficult circumstances,” Barlow said. “We owe that to the supporters who have made the trip and to ourselves.”
The game was scoreless for five innings, before China broke the deadlock with a run in the top of the sixth. Yining Liu was hit by a pitch, stole second, advanced to third on a groundout and scored on an error to open the scoring.
The lead doubled in the top of the seventh when Ying Lu singled, went to second on a groundout and scored on a single by Yang Cao.
Needing at least two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to keep their medal hopes alive, the Spirit gave it their best shot. Chelsea Forkin singled and Jade Wall walked, but Wang closed the door with a ground ball and a strikeout to end the game.
Overall, the Aussies managed just two hits off Wang, with Stacey McManus’s single in the third inning making her Australia’s only baserunner until the seventh.
It was another strong performance by the Spirit pitchers, with Justine Smethurst and Kaia Parnaby sharing the load. Starter Smethurst did not allow a run in 2.1 innings, before being replaced with runners on second and third with one out in the third inning.
Parnaby ended the scoring threat by getting a groundout and a strikeout. She pitched the rest of the game, allowing just one earned run on three hits and no walks, with four strikeouts.
Australia’s next game will be determined after the completion of the other second-round games.
Barlow said his players would learn from their experience against quality opposition. “This result doesn’t represent the work done by the players or the staff in preparation and during the event,” he said. “We got beaten by a better pitcher on the night and we need to learn from that.”
“Positive changes were needed and made to the playing environment for the players over the last six months and we will continue to push that.”