The Aussie Spirit suffered their first defeat of the 2017 Canada Cup in an extra-inning game that featured a great pitching duel and a wild finish.
Facing Canada Elite, neither team could score in the regulation seven innings, yet they managed seven runs between them in the eighth. Unfortunately for the Spirit, they were on the wrong end of the 4-3 final score.
Aussie Spirit Head Coach Fabian Barlow said his team failed to take advantage of scoring opportunities early in the game and failed to execute defensively in the extra inning.
“We missed early opportunities to put runs on the scoreboard and create pressure, which allowed the Elite team to stay in the game,” Barlow said.
“We got runners on bases most of the game, but you can’t miss those opportunities and expect to compete and win.
The result was harsh on Australian pitcher Kaia Parnaby, who was magnificent through seven innings but fell victim to some poor defence and a three-run homer by Canadian DP Erika Leonard.
“The Elite team offered up outs in the eighth inning that we didn’t execute on, which allowed that hitter to get in the box and hit the home run,” Barlow said.
Suddenly down 4-0, the Spirit staged a late rally, with Jemma Freegard driving in a run on a groundout and Stacey Porter crushing a two-run homer. But the rally fell a run short, leaving the Spirit players to ponder the lost opportunities in the early innings.
The Spirit still finished on top of their pool, with a 3-1 win-loss record. They next face the daunting challenge of playing the host nation Canada Senior team on Saturday morning Australian time.
“The challenge just got bigger for us tomorrow, so let’s see who’s up for it,” Barlow said.
- Results and schedule at the Canada Cup website