Night closes with extra inning game


BEIJING, CHINA – Wednesday night’s final game of Day 4 was perhaps its best as Venezuela beat Chinese Taipei, 3-2, in an extra inning here at the International Softball Federation’s (ISF) XI Women’s World Championship.

BEIJING, CHINA – Wednesday night’s final game of Day 4 was perhaps its best as Venezuela beat Chinese Taipei, 3-2, in an extra inning here at the International Softball Federation’s (ISF) XI Women’s World Championship.

Fifteen countries are competing in what is also the sport’s Olympic Test Event and, in addition to the right to be called ‘world champion’ for the next four years, teams are competing for four berths in the 2008 Olympic Softball competition that are at stake. The games here are being played at the new softball venue built for the Games that will be held just under two years from now.

Venezuela opened the scoring tonight with a run in the bottom of the fourth inning, only to see Chinese Taipei tie it right back up a half-inning later. With neither team having scored when the seventh and final inning of regulation play ended, the international tiebreaker went into effect. A runner was put on second base to start the top of the eighth inning, and Chinese Taipei had success bringing her home. However, their lead was short-lived as Venezuela came through in the bottom half of the inning.

With Maribel Riera starting on second base, Maria Soto led off with a bunt single. Jineth Pimentel reached on a fielder’s choice, with Riera out at third base. With runners still on first and second, Yuruby Alicart singled to centerfield to score Soto. When Chinese Taipei’s centerfielder tried to gun down Pimentel at third base however, her attempt missed the mark and the overthrow allowed Pimentel to score the winning run and give Venezuela a 3-1 won-lost record. Taipei falls to 1-3.

Similarly, at the adjacent venue, Canada too was improving their record to 3-1 with a 2-0 shutout of DPR Korea that dropped them to 1-3. Pitcher Lauren Bay led the victory and kept Canada in the thick of Pool A, one game behind China and USA, who are each undefeated.

Today started with Japan keeping their record perfect. They thumped the Netherlands, 10-0, in a game shortened by the (international) run-ahead rule. The winners only led 1-0 after two-and-a-half innings and then broke the game open with three runs in the bottom of the third and six more one inning later. Two Japanese pitchers combined to hold the Dutch to just one hit over the five innings played. Eri Yamada led the offensive fireworks with a 3-for-3 performance at the plate, driving in three runs and scoring three herself. Her solo home run began the scoring in the bottom of the first. The Netherlands dropped to 1-3.

The 10-0 win outdid Australia’s victory today by one run. The Aussies had little trouble with Botswana, 9-0. Like Japan, the 2004 Olympic silver medalists held their opponent to just one hit over five innings, with Kelly Gentle handling all the work herself in the circle for Australia. She struck out nine and her teammates provided offense each of the four innings they batted in. Botswana committed four errors and six different Aussie players had hits, including Marissa Carpadios, who hit a solo home run in the fourth inning for the game’s final run.

Greece’s record improved to 2-2 today by virtue of what on paper shows a 7-0 win over Colombia, who has actually forfeited their games at the world championship as a result of their withdrawal early Monday morning.

The fans at Fengtai Stadium went home happy again after the host country won its fourth straight game, a 6-0 China win over New Zealand. That’s not to say that there wasn’t some nailbiting, however, as the Chinese led just 1-0 after four-and-a-half innings. Back-to-back doubles by Chun Xia Li and Yi Lu highlighted a four-run bottom of the fifth that was cemented with an insurance run one inning later. The White Sox were stung by four errors – including one in that decisive fifth inning – and managed just three hits off starter Hui Li Yu over five innings, and none in the last two versus Wei Lu. New Zealand falls to 2-2.

The defending world champions, USA, picked up another victory, dropping Great Britain today, 7-0. The Americans did most of the damage in the bottom of the third inning with five runs, including a three-run home run by Jessica Mendoza. Great Britain had just one hit against pitcher Jamie Southern, who made her ISF Women’s World Championship debut by striking out nine over five innings, before the game was called (after four-and-a-half) due to the (international) run-ahead rule. Great Britain, still showing improvement however after having lost to USA 14-0 six weeks earlier, now sits at 1-3.

The other Day 4 game saw Italy pull away from South Africa, 6-2, giving the Italians their first win of the tournament. After falling behind 1-0 in the top of the first inning, South Africa took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the second. But, Italy came back with two runs of their own in the top of the fifth inning and then again in the sixth before putting the game away with one more tally in the top of the seventh. Rebecca Laccino and Sara Avanzi each had two of Italy’s eleven hits. Pitcher Ronelle Buitendag took the loss for South Africa, who dropped to 0-4.