Spirit off to flying start in Down Under Series

Janice Blackman bats for the Aussie Spirit against New Zealand.

Spirit off to flying start in Down Under Series

Down Under Series Day 1: Australia 7, New Zealand 1

Rachel Lack

Rachel Lack

The Aussie Spirit opened their International Down Under Series campaign in style, beating arch-rivals New Zealand 7-1.

Pitchers Kaia Parnaby and Ellen Roberts combined to throw a one-hitter, with 12 strikeouts, to open the tournament at Blacktown International Sportspark.

The score looks lopsided, but it certainly wasn’t an easy game for the Spirit, who found themselves a run down after a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch in the first inning. NZ pitcher Jennifer Feret-Brear seemed to have things under control early, shutting out the Aussies in the first two innings.

But the Spirit turned things around in the third inning. Rachel Lack led off with a single, then Janice Blackman, Leigh Godfrey and Stacey Porter all walked, forcing in Blackman with the first run. That ended the night for Feret-Brear, who was replaced by Pania Monk. Chelsea Forkin’s sacrifice fly scored Blackman to give Australia the lead, then Taylah Tsitsikronis doubled to add two more runs.

Another run came in the fourth inning, when Godfrey doubled to score Lack, who had walked and stolen second.

Not content with a 5-1 lead, the Spirit added two more runs in the fifth inning. Forkin, who had singled and stolen second, went to third on Tsitsikronis’s bunt single, then scored on Samantha Poole’s bunt. When Tsitsikronis scored on a fielder’s choice, the Aussies had a 7-1 lead that would not be overcome.

Chelsea Robinson

Chelsea Robinson bats for the All Stars against Japan.

After that shaky first inning, Parnaby was near-perfect, striking out seven and walking one in four innings of work. Roberts did not allow a hit or a walk while striking out five in three innings.

Japan 8, All Stars 0

Japan showed why they are the top-ranked team in the world with a comprehensive victory over the All Stars.

Three Japanese pitchers combined to allow just two hits and two walks to carry their team to an 8-0 win.

For the All Stars, only Jessica Torpey and Tara Speakman collected base hits.

Pitchers Amelia Cudicio, Simone Freeman and Brooke McNamara all threw a high percentage of strikes but fell victim to the powerful Japanese offence.

Tonight, the Australia-Japan game will be live streamed. Details here.