Heat is on with only two round robin days left

31/08/2006

BEIJING, CHINA – Only eight of the 15 teams are going to be left standing come Saturday night, and the list of which those might be is starting to become just a little bit clearer following Day 5 at the International Softball Federation’s (ISF) XI Women’s World Championship here.

BEIJING, CHINA – Only eight of the 15 teams are going to be left standing come Saturday night, and the list of which those might be is starting to become just a little bit clearer following Day 5 at the International Softball Federation’s (ISF) XI Women’s World Championship here. The event is also softball’s Olympic Test Event and its top four finishers (or top five if China places anywhere from first to fourth) will qualify for the 2008 Olympic Softball competition.

Japan continued its winning ways Thursday with a big 16-0 victory over Botswana that was halted after four innings because of the (international) run-ahead rule. The winners scored six times in their first at-bat and tacked on seven more runs in the top of the second. After going scoreless in the third, Japan (5-0) closed out the scoring with three more runs in the top of the fourth, totaling 17 hits on the game while holding Botswana to just one. Emi Naito was 3-for-3 at the plate and drove in four runs.

Team USA had a similar victory today, thumping New Zealand 15-0. The Americans scored runs in each of the four innings in running their record to 5-0. Andrea Duran and Stacey Nuveman had the hot bats today, each going 3-for-4. Nuveman cracked two home runs and had a total of six runs batted in. Monica Abbott struck out five over the four innings of work. Kalala Faalogo had two of the three hits for New Zealand (2-3).

Not to be outdone, China scored in double digits as well to keep their winning streak alive. The host country (5-0) defeated South Africa today, 12-0. Most of the damage was done in the bottom of the fourth inning. Leading 5-0 after three-and-a-half, China broke the game open with seven runs, highlighted by RBI doubles from Chunxia Li, Yi Lu, and Yanhong Yu. South Africa (0-5) managed just one hit off of Yin Zhou, who pitched all five innings. Lu and Yi Zhou each finished with three hits and combined to drive in five runs.

At the other extreme was a Canada victory over Italy by just 1-0. The winners upped their record to 4-1 in dramatic fashion, scoring the winning run with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning. Melanie Matthews singled and then, on an 0-2 count to Jennifer Salling, stole second. Salling worked the count to 2-2 before hitting a triple that scored Matthews for the win. Matthews finished with yet another multiple-hit game, going 3-for-4 at the plate. Starter Danielle Lawrie pitched all seven innings, striking out five. Losing pitcher Leslie Malerich went the distance for Italy (1-4).

Greece improved to 3-2 with a 5-0 victory over the Netherlands. The game was a rematch of a tight 2-1 affair won by the Greeks at last year’s European Championship. Despite a run in the top of the first inning, today the game was close until the “ Hellas,” leading just 2-0 after six innings, scored three times in the top of the seventh. The Dutch were undone in large part by three consecutive walks, two of which brought in runs. Greece’s Sarah Farnworth pitched a complete game one-hitter and three different players had two hits apiece, including infielder Joanna Gail who drove in two runs. The Netherlands is now 1-4, but will get win number two tomorrow as a result of the Colombia forfeit (withdrawal).

Australia posted another shutout victory, knocking off Venezuela on Thursday, 9-0. The Aussies are still unbeaten (5-0), having used three pitchers to strike out eleven batters and hold Venezuela to just one hit. Australia hit three home runs, including one by Sandra Allen, who finished 3-for-3 with three RBI, and a grand slam by Marissa Carpadios in the top of the third inning. Venezuela falls to 3-2 and has a big game on Friday against Greece.

Chinese Taipei is still in the hunt in Pool B – with Venezuela and Greece – following their forfeit win today against Colombia. Taipei is 2-3 and takes on Botswana on Friday.

Tonight’s final game saw Great Britain edge DPR Korea, 1-0. The win puts the British at 2-3 and drops the Koreans to 1-4. Each team still has to play Italy and New Zealand before round robin play ends on Saturday, at which point the playoff teams will be set. With the exception of their loss to USA, Korea’s losses have all only been by one, two, or three runs.