Host team opens Worlds with big win

27/08/2006

BEIJING, CHINA – The International Softball Federation’s (ISF) XI Women’s World Championship began here today with elaborate Opening Ceremonies in the new stadium built for the 2008 Olympic Softball competition. As the nearly 40-minute ceremony ended, fireworks were sent up in the air from the warning track in the outfield.

BEIJING, CHINA – The International Softball Federation’s (ISF) XI Women’s World Championship began here today with elaborate Opening Ceremonies in the new stadium built for the 2008 Olympic Softball competition. As the nearly 40-minute ceremony ended, fireworks were sent up in the air from the warning track in the outfield.

The first game got underway shortly thereafter and featured offensive fireworks from the host country. China beat Great Britain, 10-0, in the first of eight games on the day.

The winners held the British without a hit and took advantage of three errors to post what would be the biggest margin of victory on the day.

For China, Chunxia Li and Di Wu went 2-for-3 at the plate and Qi Li and Wei Lu combined on an eleven-strikeout no-hitter. The game was called after four-and-a-half innings due to the (international) run-ahead rule.

On the adjacent field, South Africa and DPR Korea were going head-to-head at practically the same time, in a game that also ended in a shutout. DPR Korea won that contest, 3-0. Catcher Kim Un Ju led the winners with a 3-for-4 performance at the plate and drove in a run. DPR Korea used three pitchers, with Kim Song Chun picking up the victory. She struck out six batters in three innings. South Africa’s Ronelle Buitendag took the loss, pitching the last three innings in relief of starter Nicolene Jones.

Japan defeated Chinese Taipei by the same 3-0 score. Winning pitcher Yukiko Ueno, who made a name for herself at the 2004 Games in Athens by throwing the first perfect game in Olympic Softball history, struck out twelve Chinese Taipei batters and surrendered just two hits for the complete-game victory. Sachiko Ito drove in two runs for Japan.

Japan got the only run it would need in the bottom of the third inning before tacking on two insurance tallies in the sixth.

Meanwhile, Canada was having its way with New Zealand. The red and white dumped the Kiwis, 9-0. Left fielder Melanie Matthews was 4-for-4 at the plate and four other Canadian batters had two hits each. The game was called after five innings due to the (international) run-ahead rule.

Canada scored four runs in the top of the first inning, followed by two in the second, one in the third, and two more in the fifth. Pitchers Kaila Holtz and Danielle Lawrie combined to hold New Zealand to just four hits.

The day continued with defending world champion USA taking on Italy. Pitcher Cat Osterman led the Americans to a 6-1 victory, throwing a complete-game two-hitter, with a whopping 14 strikeouts. Offensively the U.S. got a 3-for-4 performance from left fielder Jessica Mendoza, who drove in two runs and scored one as well. Italy wasn’t able to muster a sustained attack, although they did capitalize on two errors by the Americans in the top of the sixth inning for their only run.

Botswana won their opening day game by virtue of a forfeit as Colombia did not arrive in Beijing as of not only game time, but the end of the day Sunday as well, leaving a likelihood of the Colombians possibly starting out 0-2 since they’re scheduled to play (against Australia) on Tuesday morning at 10:30. Today’s game goes in the books as a 7-0 Botswana win.

This evening, Australia downed Greece, 5-1. Centerfielder Simmone Morrow walked to open the bottom of the first inning for the Aussies. She scored on a Stacey Porter double, but Greece tied the game at one with a run in the top of the second inning when Joanna Gail drove in Katerina Koutougkou, who was pinch running for pitcher Sarah Farnworth. That would be it for the Hellas though as they saw Australia score two times in their next at-bat, and twice more in the bottom of the sixth. Farnworth went the distance and took the loss for Greece, who managed just three hits off of three Australia pitchers.

And, in the highest scoring game of the day, Venezuela came from behind to defeat the Netherlands, 10-6. The first battle came with getting to the ballpark, as Venezuela was late in getting to Beijing, to the extent that they weren’t a part of this morning’s Opening Ceremonies. By the time their first game was an inning-and-a-half old, they were trailing 5-1. However, they rallied to take an eventual 9-5 lead before registering the final margin of victory. The two teams combined for more than 20 hits.

Tomorrow’s schedule calls for eight more games as the teams get into round robin play, in which each team will play seven games. The tournament concludes with the medal games on September 5, preceded by playoff games on the 3rd and 4th.