Chiba, Japan - The Canadian Women’s National Team earned its second consecutive bronze medal at the WBSC Women’s Softball World Championship after falling 3-0 to Japan. The game featured a fantastic pitching matchup between Japan’s Yukiko Ueno and the Canadian tandem of Danielle Lawrie (Langley, B.C.) and Jenna Caira (Toronto, Ont.). Canada’s offence was unable to get the timely hits with runners on base, while Japan took full advantage of a few of defensive miscues to score the insurance runs they needed.
In the top of the first, Canada got into the hit column with a bunt single by Joey Lye (Toronto, Ont.) and a single up the middle by Erika Polidori(Brantford, Ont.), but Ueno got a strikeout and a ground ball back to her to leave two runners stranded. Canada came ready to play, as the first Japanese batter hit a solid line drive that was snagged by a diving Lye at second base for the first out. However, Japan got on the board when the next batter singled into short left field followed by a triple to the right-center field gap by Saki Yamazaki. Lawrie bounced back after that, inducing a weak ground out to third and getting her first strikeout of the night to leave a runner stranded on third.
Larissa Franklin Maple Ridge, B.C.) led off the second with by reaching on an error on a high throw by the shortstop and used her speed to beat a throw to second on a sacrifice bunt by Kaleigh Rafter (Guelph, Ont.) as Canada put two runners on base with no outs. After a pop out in foul territory at third and a strikeout, Victoria Hayward (Toronto, Ont.) hit a short fly ball that was caught by a diving right fielder as Ueno escaped the inning. Lawrie got two quick outs to start the bottom of the second, but the next batter hit a ground-rule double that fell on the line deep in the left field corner, followed by a deep drive to left that was caught just in front of the fence to hold the game at 1-0.
Ueno retired Canada in order in the third on a lineout and two strikeouts, with Caira coming on in relief of Lawrie to start the bottom of the inning. With two outs, Yamazaki was at it again as she dropped a hit into shallow left-center field that hit a diving centerfielder and rolled all the way to the side fence in left field for an inside-the-park homerun. After a single, the following batter singled to center with a throw over to third missing the target to allow another Japanese run to score on the error as Japan increased its lead to 3-0. Ueno made quick work of Canada again in the fourth, while Caira issued a pair of walks but kept Japan from adding to its lead.
In the top of the fifth, Hayward hit a two-out single up the middle with Lye reaching on an infield single on a ground ball just out of Ueno’s reach on the second base side. However, the next batter struck out as Canada left two runners on base. Japan got a pair of two-out baserunners on a hit-by-pitch and a single on a line drive off the shortstop’s glove, but the next batter flew out to left to end the inning. Canada went down in order quickly in the top of the sixth, with Japan getting a one-out baserunner to second on a throwing error but could not move her any further. Down to their final at-bat, Canada could not get anything going as Japan sealed the win.
Box Score: Japan 3 vs. Canada 0
Lawrie allowed a run on three hits and struck out two in two innings, while Caira gave up two runs (one earned) on four hits and two walks to go along with three strikeouts. All four of Canada’s hits came from the beginning of the batting order as Lye registered a pair of singles with Hayward and Polidori each adding one.
With Canada’s loss the United States claimed a berth in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, and they went on to beat Ueno and Japan in a thrilling 7-6 game in 10 innings for their second consecutive Gold medal.