GB U-19 Women rue near miss against Canada

Thu 27 Jul 2017


By Bob Fromer

Clearwater, Florida, USA: 26 July – The GB Under-19 Women’s Fastpitch Team played a tremendous game this evening against World #3 Canada, taking an early lead, then carrying a tied game into the bottom of the sixth inning before finally succumbing by a score of 4-2.

The result means that GB will not be going forward to medal playoffs at this Junior World Championship, but only because the format being used here, which GB hopes to persuade the World Baseball Softball Confederation to change for future tournaments, is impossibly restrictive. 

What the team did accomplish today was to restore momentum and pride as they battled the Canadians to a standstill in a contest that attracted a very large crowd before it finished, as word got round the four-field Eddie C. Moore complex that a great game was going on and that an upset might be on the cards.

Near miss syndrome​

On the other hand, this game could also be seen as yet another example of a syndrome that has increasingly haunted the both the GB Women and Under-19 Women’s Teams at World Championships over the past few years – another case of so near and yet so far.

At both age levels, GB Teams have come very close to wins against some of the world’s top teams, but have not yet managed to pull one off.  Recent games by both teams against Canada, Japan, Chinese Taipei and China come to mind.

And that’s what Head Coach Rachael Watkeys told the team after the game.

“Be happy, and be proud,” Rachael said, “but also be disappointed, because this was a game that got away.

“It was only a few little things – a few small mistakes here and there – that let the Canadians come back and win the game,” Rachael added, “and they showed their maturity by taking advantage of those mistakes.  But everyone did a great job, and it was an awesome game of softball to watch.  We definitely earned their respect.”

Great start​

In fact, GB did more than just earn the respect of the Canadians – they made them distinctly nervous by coming out in the top of the first inning with all guns blazing and taking a 2-0 lead on three hits, a walk and a sacrifice fly off starting pitcher Kara Bilodeau.

GB got an immediate break when lead-off hitter Katie Burge swung and missed at a 3-2 pitch but the umpires somehow awarded her a walk.  Katie went to second on a wild pitch, moved to third when Casey Moritz dropped a single into short left field, and scored when Megan Parno blasted a long sacrifice fly to centre field.

But GB wasn’t done: Georgina Corrick singled to left and Lauren King hit a hard bouncer up the middle that Kara Bilodeau could only deflect towards shortstop as Casey scored.

After Lauren stole second base on the first-and-third situation, GB still had runners on second and third with only one out, and another base hit at this point could have given the game an entirely different outcome.

But a strikeout and pop-up ended the inning, leaving GB 2-0 ahead, but with Canada yet to bat and a potential six-and-a-half innings still to go.

Attrition​

The GB offense certainly didn’t shut down after that first inning outburst, and they had at least one baserunner in every inning except the second against Kara Bilodeau and then against the Canadians’ #1 pitcher, Brianna Aguilar-Beaucage, who came in to throw the last three innings with the score tied at 2-2.

In the top of the fourth inning, a bad umpiring decision may have thwarted a GB scoring chance when Olivia Lee walked with one out and Alana Snow appeared safe at first when the throw on her bunt hit her in the back and bounced away as Olivia raced to third.  But after some consultation, the umpires called Alana out for running out of the baserunning lane and obstructing the throw, a call that most observers questioned.

In general, though, GB couldn’t find the clutch hit that might have brought in another run, and the rest of the game became a matter of attrition: could pitcher Georgina Corrick and the GB defense keep the Canadians at bay and preserve that 2-0 lead?

Canada went down in order in the bottom of the first inning on three fly balls to the outfield.  But they threatened in every other inning and left 10 runners on base over the next five frames.

More importantly, they also squeezed out some runs, and some of that was down to GB mistakes.

In the bottom of the second inning, Canadian lead-off hitter Maria Palmegiana reached on an error, and eventually came round to score an unearned run on a two-out single between third and short by catcher Amanda Janes.  GB’s lead had been cut in half.

In the bottom of the third inning, Canada tied the score.  This time a lead-off walk to Alysse Volpe got the Canadians started and she eventually scored on a single to centre field by shortstop Grace Messmer.

And now the tension really started to mount.

The end

Canada put two runners on base in the bottom of the fourth inning when Aylsse Volpe and Rebecca Jones singled with two out.  But Georgina Corrick got the dangerous Grace Messmer to ground out to Laura Hirai at second base.

In the bottom of the fifth inning, Maria Palmegiani led off with a double to right field and was sacrificed to third.  But there she stayed as Abbey Fortin looked at a called third strike and Hanna Finkelstein popped out to shortstop.

But in the bottom of the sixth inning, the dam finally burst.  With one out, pinch-hitter Zoe Hicks hit a line drive double to right field that Casey Moritz got to but couldn’t hold, and Alysse Volpe was safe on an error on her sacrifice bunt, with Hicks moving to third. 

Now the GB infield moved in to cut off the go-ahead run at the plate, but perhaps not quite far enough, and when Rebecca Jones hit a bouncer to shortstop, Hicks was able to slide in just ahead of Katie Burge’s throw.

Now Canada led 3-2, and moments later it was 4-2 when Grace Messmer pushed a single between first and second to drive in Volpe.

A fly ball to Alana Snow in centre and a strikeout of Becki Monaghan ended the inning without further damage, but the Canadians were now in the driver’s seat.

GB didn’t give up, and with two outs in the top of the seventh inning, Megan Parno lined a single to right centre field after a long at-bat, and Georgina Corrick reached base when her ground ball was bobbled by Grace Messmer at shortstop.

Lauren King hit a couple of hard foul balls, but then her bouncer to third ended the game.

What it means

GB’s chances of getting to the Championship playoffs by coming first or second in Pool D, a group containing Canada, China, Mexico and Korea as well as Ireland, were always going to be slim, but the result against Canada put the mathematical nail in the coffin.

Ironically, just before GB and Canada played, China met Korea, and a 2-1 upset win by Korea in eight innings cleared a way for GB to finish second or even first in the group if they could beat Canada and Mexico in their two remaining games and Canada defeated China tomorrow.

GB certainly gave it a go – and will come out equally hard against Mexico in their final pool game on Thursday.

After that, GB is likely to go to a Double Page Playoff that will determine places 9-16 in the final standings, and the game against Mexico will decide whether they go into that Page Playoff as a third place team, which will allow them to lose a game and still play on, or as a fourth place team, which means the next loss will end their tournament.

Elsewhere….

Standings in the four first-round groups with one day of pool play remaining are as follows:

POOL A
Chinese Taipei (4-0)
USA (4-0)
Philippines (4-1)
Italy (2-2)
South Africa (1-3)
Guatemala (1-4)
Turkey (0-6)


POOL B
Japan (5-0)
Australia (4-1)
Brazil (2-2)
Peru (2-2)
Netherlands (2-3)
Bahamas (1-4)
Israel (0-4)


POOL C
Czech Republic (4-0)
Puerto Rico (4-0)
Dominican Republic (2-2)
Argentina (1-3)
New Zealand (1-3)
India (0-4)


POOL D
Canada (4-0)
China (3-1)
Great Britain (2-2)
Mexico (2-2)
Korea (1-2)
Ireland (0-4)


Photos by Simon Mortimer

Back to news listing


Comments





Please enter the word you see in the image below: