Two wins, one loss for GB to start World Cup

Fri 16 Nov 2018

By Mike MacDowell

Plant City, Florida: 16 November -- Day One of the WBSC Slowpitch World Cup, or International Cup as it has been newly christened this year, went into the books on Thursday, with GB sitting on a 2-1 record at the end of it.

Two well-earned wins against the USA and Curaçao Two were sandwiched around a great game of softball against the Bahamas, which unfortunately ended in a 24-17 loss.

The fact that GB scored at least 13 runs in every game they played will be pleasing for Head Coach Stephen Patterson, as will the manner of the two victories, each of which was meritorious for different reasons.

The standout offensive players for GB were Steve Hazard with nine hits and two walks over the three games and Kim Miller with five hits and three walks, including a pinch-hit triple to deep left field against the Bahamas.

With the remaining three round-robin games scheduled for Friday, including a 10.00 am local time start against the always dangerous Germans, GB were aiming to take what they learned today and use it to push for three more wins.

GB 13, USA 1

The USA team is a Co-Ed National Championship-winning team from Missouri who played last year as USA Softball's entry in the World Cup, and are competing again this year.  They are a dangerous team with a lot of experience and finished third in this competition in 2017.

So it was important that GB made a good start to the game, and they did.  They held USA scoreless until the fourth inning and managed to score eight runs of their own during that time, with a line drive double by Robbie Studholme on the first pitch of the game setting the tone for a series of hard line drives throughout the order.

Tash Humphris and Mark Bowman picked up three hits each in the game, Tash notably crushing two line drives into the middle of the outfield and Mark picked up four RBIs with a consistent approach that the USA fielders could not deal with.

GB had another breakout inning in the fifth to make the score 13-1, and this ended the scoring for the game, with GB running out comfortable winners behind their bats and a strong fielding performance with no errors.

All the first-time GB players got their feet wet in the game, with Joe Grantham and Crista Reed-Thomas getting action as pinch runners to join Robbie Studholme who started in left field, and both used their speed to score and push GB towards victory.

Head Coach Stephen Patterson declared the win a "good victory rather than a great one," but was pleased with the momentum generated from the first win of the tournament -- momentum that GB carried into a fast-paced and hard-hitting contest against the Bahamas.  And were it not for a single big inning from the Bahamas, the result might perhaps have been different.

Bahamas 24, GB 17

GB played a good, hard game of softball against the Bahamas, and won every inning except one. Unfortunately, that one contained 13 runs for the Bahamas, which was the difference between the teams in the end.

The game started well for GB, who held a 5-2 lead after two innings thanks to a three-run home run from Chris Yoxall and an RBI triple from Robbie Studholme who came home on a sacrifice fly from Sherry Kenyon.

It was then that the big-hitting Bahamas side pulled away with two home runs of their own and numerous hard-hit balls.  However, GB will think they had some chances to get out of the inning, with Steve Hazard dropping a tough diving chance to his right and a couple of hard-hit ground balls that infielders were unable to corral.

Mark Bowman pitched well to the Bahamas hitters and most of the damage on the scorecard can be attributed to the good hitting of the Bahamas team rather than anything that GB did wrong.

GB needed to answer this big inning, which had given the Bahamas a 15-5 lead, and they managed to pull back three runs in the bottom of the third inning.  But the Bahamas kept tacking on extra runs in every inning, and GB didn't get the seven or eight-run inning they were looking for to pull back into the game.

Hannah Pitman had a strong game at first base with numerous good picks on throws, Chris Yoxall ended the game with two home runs among his three hits and Matt Tomlin, Robbie Studholme and Danielle Atkinson had two hits each.

After the game Coach Patterson said, "These are the type of games we want to play in, fast-paced and high-scoring.  What we have to do now is go out and be better in our next game.  That's the difference between being a good team and a great team."

GB 27, Curaçao Two 1

With the game against the Bahamas having been played at a breakneck pace, everything slowed down for GB's last game of the day against Curaçao Two.  It was an exercise in patience, as three of the four pitchers used by Curaçao struggled to find the strike zone and issued 14 walks among them.

Finding a pitch to hit was like a treasure hunt for GB, with Steve Patterson keen to make sure the players were not swinging at bad pitches.  Mike MacDowell hit two triples and Katherine Golik and Danielle Atkinson had a triple each.

Because of the number of walks issued, the game had only meandered into the third inning before time expired, with GB still batting in the bottom of the third and the scoreline standing at 27-1. 

What hard-hit balls there were from Curaçao Two were dealt with well, with Joe Grantham making a nice backhand snag up the middle at second base and Kelvin Harrison and Kim Miller making tough catches in the outfield under the lights.

Day 1: Results and Standings

Results were up and down over the first day of play at the WBSC Slowpitch World Cup, with only Curaçao One managing to go through the day undefeated.  Results were:

USA 10, Bahamas 9
Germany 28, Curaçao Two 6
Turks & Caicos 24, Bahamas 5
Curaçao One 15, Germany 1
GB 13, USA 1
Curaçao Two 14, Turks & Caicos 5
USA 16, Germany 8
Curaçao One 13, Turks & Caicos 12
Curaçao One 18, Curaçao Two 2
Bahamas 24, GB 17
GB 27, Curaçao Two 1

Standings at the end of Day 1 were:

Curaçao One (3-0)
GB (2-1)
USA (2-1)
Turks & Caicos (1-2)
Germany (1-2)
Bahamas (1-2)
Curaçao Two (1-3)

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