Australia take on Canada in World Championship Final on Sunday

Published Sat 03 Dec 2022

The Aussie Steelers will be looking for revenge against Canada in their quest for a gold medal in Sunday's World Championship Final of the 2022 WBSC Men's Softball World Cup.

Canada has been dominant throughout the entire tournament, losing only to Argentina in a tight 5-4 battle. The Steelers know all too well the ability of the Canadians to both shut teams down and to take them apart. Australia's only loss happened came from a clinical 6-0 Opening Round display.

2009 was the last and only time Australia has won the World Championship game, with two members of that team contributing to this year's squad. The Steelers last appeared in the 2017 World Championship game ended in a 6-4 loss to New Zealand in Canada. This time around it's against Canada in New Zealand.

Australia has got solid depth threaded throughout their lineup. Highlighted by Hayden Mathews, Brendon O'Byrne and Nick Shailes, the Steelers can boast eight hitters sitting above a batting average of .250. Rookie Riley James has made the most of his five at-bats, pinch hitting at .600 and scoring two RBIs. Hayden Mathews has continued his incredible tournament. His two RBI single in extra innings during Saturday's win over Argentina was the only scoring hit by either team, and his average now sits at .450.

Canada boasts two less hitters above .250, but when you've got Bryan Abrey, Quinten Bruce and Derek Mayson putting up absurd figures it starts to even the ledger up, if not sway it in the Canadian direction. Tournament average leaders Bruce and Abrey are hitting at a mind-boggling .647 and .524 respectively for the tournament. Mayson is sitting at .333, a little less than his colleagues, however you can't turn your nose up at his eight RBIs, three home runs and eighteen total bases. Abrey has tallied up an enormous eleven RBIs to go along with his three home runs and twenty-three total bases, while Bruce has an astounding on-base percentage of .714. It's numbers like these that will pose a real challenge for the Australians, who will have to decide whether (or when) to start pitching around them.

As far as pitchers are concerned, Canada are able to rely on a four-pronged attack that has given up an incredibly low twelve earned runs across forty-eight innings. Whether they face Sean Cleary, Zachary Pierce, Justin Schofield or Ty Sebastian, Australia are going to have to be at the top of their game to make a dent on the scoreboard. Canada's pitchers have put up four complete games, with a team ERA of 1.75 and eighty-five strikeouts.

Australia's pitching staff has looked a little different this World Cup, with the eighteen-year-old lefty Rookie Jack Besgrove eating up the lion's share of the team's innings, followed by the clutch, crafty two-way player in Marshall Kronk. The veteran righty Adam Folkard has also made a number of short appearances, pushing through injury to help his team through moments of pressure, while rookie Jay Selu has made two appearances for a total of three innings. As a team Australia has put up a 2.11 ERA which is slightly behind Canada, however they more than make up for it with a strike out tally of ninety-eight. Sixty-one of those have been delivered from the trusty hands of Besgrove in his breakout tournament. 

The only question that's left to answer is: who's going to win? After Australia's performance against the brilliant Argentina, there's more than meets the eye about the Steelers. Will Canada put in another ultra-tight pitching display? Can the Steelers nullify the powerful Canadian bats? Can Australia back it up after a short rest? All will be revealed in Sunday's World Championship Game at Rosedale Park in Auckland, New Zealand. 

The first pitch is at 4pm NZDT / 2pm AEDT on Sunday December 4, 2022.

Paid live streaming is available via the WBSC's official live streaming partner GameTime.Sport.

(Image credit: WBSC. Image caption: Marshall Kronk was solid again in Super Round victory over Argentina)