Canada beat Australia, 5-4, to earn the WBSC U-19 Women’s Softball World Cup bronze medal. World number 3 Canada had never won a medal at the Junior or U-19 world level.
Canada came into the third-place game as the favourite, but despite an early lead had to fight through the very last pitch to overcome a brave Australian side. The Aussie actually outhit Canada, 11-5.
Canada got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the first. Kendra Falby was up to her usual business: she reached on a base hit, stole second and scored on a line drive into the gap to right-centre that took Allyse Volpe to third. The second run scored on a sacrifice fly by Grace Messmer.
Canada’s Nicole Rivait used an error to score the third run in the bottom of the third. A run that would be key for Canada to maintain the lead in the top of the third.
Jenna Trim got to second on a defensive error and scored on a base hit by Mya Geros. Kayla Hancox got to Canada’s starter Samantha Ryan and sent a bullet off the third-base bag that turned into a double and scored the second run.
Canada thought they had knocked Australia out in the bottom of the fifth. Alexis Lucyshin reached on a lead-off triple and Grace Messmer singled to put the runners at the corner. The fourth run scored when a grounder by Mia Valcke forced the second out at second. Valcke herself reached second on a wild pitch and Rebecca Jones brought both runners in with a single through the left side.
Australia was not done. Brooke Stewart led off the sixth with a base hit and Canada gave the call to Alexis Lucyshyn. The reliever got started with a strikeout, but Australia got to her with three consecutive singles to make it a two-run game.
Madelyn Hickingbottom headed to the circle with the bases loaded and immediately gave up the fourth run on a pop to shallow left field that fell despite a brave diving attempt by Volpe. Geros hit then a hard grounder to third, that allowed Jones to get the force out at home and Hickingbottom got out of the jam as pinch hitter Madison Graham struck out looking on an outside fastball.
Australia put the potential tying run on base in the top of the seventh when Willems reached on a two-out single. Hickingbottom got Philippa Adkins swinging at a changeup to close the game.
The strikeout ignited celebration for first-ever Canada’s U-19 bronze medal.