GB U-19 Women squeak past Ireland

Wed 26 Jul 2017

By Bob Fromer

Clearwater, Florida, USA: 25 July – Chelsie Robison made two spectacular diving catches in right field and scored the winning run as the GB Under-19 Women held their nerve on defense and in the circle to hang on for a tension-filled 2-1 win over Ireland at the WBSC Junior World Championship today.

The win takes GB’s record to 2-1 in Pool D, but the next two days will bring games against the two toughest teams in the group, Canada and Mexico, and to advance from Pool D to the Championship playoffs, GB will probably need to win both those games.

To do so, the team will need to muster more offense than they have shown in the wins over Korea and Ireland and the loss to China, in which they have scored four runs in total.  Or at least, they’ll need to cash in more of their chances. 

GB has not lacked baserunners or scoring threats in any of the games they have played so far, but the clutch base hit, and maybe that bit of luck, has so far largely been missing.

Pitching and scoring‚Äč

GB used three pitchers in today’s game, none of whom were Georgina Corrick, who was rested for the games to come, and GB Head Coach Rachael Watkeys was happy with all of them.

“Our pitchers did a great job defending the lead that they had to work with,” Rachael said, “which wasn’t as much as it should have been, and the defense stepped up when they had to.  But too many of our hitters were going for the fences when they should have been putting the ball on the ground.”

GB managed only five hits against Irish starter Makenzie McGrath, who pitched a complete game, and used location rather than speed to turn GB hitters’ aggression against themselves.  Even so, GB should still have scored more runs, particularly in the fifth inning, when they did bring in what proved to be the winning run but failed to score any more despite having the bases loaded and no one out.

GB scored the first run of the game in the bottom of the third inning when shortstop Katie Burge, the young and smallest player on the field, blasted a towering triple to right field that almost cleared the fence, and scored on a two-out fly ball single to centre field by Megan Parno.

The score became 2-0 in the bottom of the fifth inning.  Chelsie Robison, leading off, reached first on an error by Irish shortstop Nicole Franklin, and then Hannah and Katie Burge put down successive bunt hits to load the bases.  Alana Snow’s little fly ball behind second base just eluded the fielders, scoring Chelsie, and with the heart of the GB order coming up, this was surely where the game would break open.

But it wasn’t to be.  Irish second base player Hannah Monteleone made a diving catch of Megan Parno’s low line drive, and doubled Katie Burge off second base.  Georgina Corrick then smashed another line drive – straight to Hannah Monteleone.

As things turned out, that 2-0 lead was barely enough.

Defense‚Äč

Kyra Watson was the starting pitcher for GB and pitched the first four innings.  The first three were straightforward, though the third inning featured a wonderful diving catch by Chelsie Robison in foul territory down the right field line on a ball hit by Nicole Franklin.  Chelsie was to reprise that catch later in the game, and in a more critical situation.

In the top of the fourth inning, the Irish showed signs that they had figured Kyra Watson out, and three hard-hit singles with one out loaded the bases.  It took a spectacular double play turned by Lauren King to get GB out of the jam.  Lauren grabbed a hard line drive hit by Irish left fielder Eimear Cunningham and dove to touch third just before the runner, Hannah Monteleone, could get back.

Andrea Johnson took over the pitching in the top of the fifth inning and gave up a lead-off walk and then a wild pitch, but retired the next three batters in order.

However, another lead-off walk in the top of the sixth inning, followed by a defensive error, brought Beth Fleming to the circle and soon, after two stolen bases, the Irish had runners on second and third with no one out.

Beth got the first hitter she faced to pop up to second base for the first out, and then the GB defense again came up with a big play.  A single to centre field by Teresa Griswold brought in an Irish run, but Alana Snow’s powerful throw to the plate caught the trail runner halfway to home and she was quickly tagged out by Lauren King in the ensuring rundown. 

Beth then struck out Eimear Cunningham to end the inning.

On to the top of the seventh, with GB defending that slender 2-1 lead and Beth Franklin trying to nail it down.

The first batter, Cassandra McGrath, hit a little fly ball into right field that looked sure to fall for a hit until Chelsie Robison dived, caught the ball at full extension and somehow held on.

That seemed to end the Irish resistance, and a ground ball to third and a much more routine fly ball to Chelsie in right field soon ended the game.

Elsewhere….

Another 18 games were played today at the WBSC Junior Women's World Championship, with two more days of first-round pool play still to go.

With only the top two teams from each group going forward to Championship playoffs, here are the pool standings after Day Two:

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


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

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

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

The GB Junior Women will play one game tomorrow, at 6.00 pm local time (11.00 pm in the UK) against the top seed in Pool D, Canada.

Photos by Simon Mortimer

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