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Round 1 Rosedale Park
Auckland, New Zealand
December 12 - 15
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5 July 2012
Aussie Spirit reached the final of the US World Cup after some great performances in the preliminary matches by the young battery combinations and productive Spirit hitters. The entire team showed Head Coach, Kere Johanson that they came prepared to play the tournament, the first of three international tournaments on this tour, a pleasing sign for the Australian Coach.
Aussie Spirit arrived in the hot climate of Oklahoma and immediately started their preparations for a long tour culminating at the World Championship. Head Coach Johanson worked the players hard in the lead up to the tournament as this is the first time since March the team was able to be together. The three day camp at the University of Oklahoma softball facility allowed the players to work together on team strategies, finishing off with two practice matches (and two wins) against the Netherlands, a prelude of what was to come in the US World Cup.
Game 1 - Aussie Spirit defeated Brazil - 11-1
Aussie Spirit was aggressive from the start of the game against Brazil, immediately putting pressure on the Brazil defence. The Aussie Spirit bats fired up in the top of the fourth and fifth innings with home runs to Belinda White, Stacey Porter and Jodie Bowering. The team kept the pressure on Brazil in the sixth inning adding another five runs to close out the game.
Aussie Spirit picked up 11 hits for the game with Stacey Porter, Jodie Bowering and Leigh Godfrey picking up two hits each and singles to Brenda de Blaes, Stacey McManus, Jodie Stevenson, Verity Long-Droppert, Claire Warwick and Belinda White. Kaia Parnaby and Zara Mee combined on the mound to restrict Brazil to only one hit for the game. Parnaby pitched 4 innings allowing one hit and three strike outs. Zara Mee pitched 2 innings allowing no hits and five strike outs.
Game 2 – Aussie Spirit defeated Canada - 7-6
Aussie Spirit jumped to an early lead at the bottom on the first when Stacey Porter was allowed to score from 3rd when Canadian catcher, Erin Cumpstone elected to make the play on Brenda de Blaes stealing 2nd.
The Canadian batters put on a powerful display in the third inning with Melanie Matthews hitting a home run and a two run home run to Jennifer Yee. A second home run to Melanie Matthews in the top of the fifth innings saw Canada stretch their lead to 5-1. However, the Aussie Spirit girls answered the challenge with great team hitting scoring five runs to take a 6-5 lead. The inning however was also marred by controversy with the Canadian Head Coach being ejected after arguing with an umpire who had reversed an earlier decision.
Canada answered in the top of the seventh innings and levelled the score courtesy of a walk and a two base hit by Sheena Lawrick. Leading off in the bottom of the seventh inning Melinda Weaver reached 1st on an infield error and was advanced to 2nd by Stacey Porter on a fielder’s choice. With two out Brenda de Blaes fired a shot to centre/left field to score Weaver and finish the game.
Head Coach, Kere Johanson comments:
“Aussie Spirit showed true spirit during today’s game against Canada. It was a test of the teams’ character in a closely fought battle that saw them take the lead early in the contest only to surrender it twice during the course of the game. It was great to get the win with the pitchers and catchers combining to get the job done."
Game 3 - USA defeated Aussie Spirit – 3-1
Kaia Parnaby did a sensational job on the mound restricting the strong USA line up to only one hit after three complete innings. Aussie Spirit looked threatening in the top of the fourth inning with back to back singles to Chelsea Forkin and Jodie Bowering however they were shut down by the tight USA defence.
In the bottom of the fourth USA rallied to score two runs. With one down Valerie Arioto hit a home run over the centrefield fence, this was followed by a base on balls and then a double by Lauren Gibson to capitalise and score the second run for the USA.
Aussie Spirit answered in the top of the fifth with a Stacey Porter single to score Claire Warwick from 2nd base. The USA answered again in the bottom of the inning and stretched their lead to 3-1, which was the final score.
While Aussie Spirit outhit the USA with six hits to four, the USA were able to capitalise on most of their scoring opportunities while the Spirit left eight runners on base. Jodie Bowering was the outstanding hitter for the Aussie Spirit recording two hits while Kaia Parnaby only gave up two hits in 4.2 innings and recorded six strike outs.
Head Coach, Kere Johanson comments:
“There were a couple of close decisions which had they gone our way the result might have been very different. Very happy with the way the team played the seven innings especially as the Spirit players are coming out of their winter season compared to the Americans who are coming off their in season. We can only go forward from here".
Game 4 – Aussie Spirit defeated Netherlands – 4-0
The game against the Netherlands was a great test for the Aussie Spirit team. The winner of this game would advance to the Championship game against the USA. After two wins against the Netherlands in practice matches earlier in the week, the Aussie Spirit were full of confidence. The Aussie Spirit were first to score after a towering home run by Brenda De Blaes over the leftfield fence.
The Aussie Spirit picked up eight hits in seven innings, with De Blaes and Verity Long-Droppert (2 hits) and crucial pinch hits by Michelle Cox and Jodie Stevenson. Justine Smethurst and Kaia Parnaby combined to shut the Netherlands hitters down, allowing only two hits for the game. Aussie Spirit catcher, Belinda White shut the speedy Netherlands runners down in the first innings, throwing out two consecutive runners attempting to steal 2nd.
Head Coach, Kere Johanson comments:
“The first team goal was to be in the Championship game so Congratulations to the team for achieving this goal today. The pitchers and catchers worked really well with a special mention to Belinda White who threw out two runners both attempting to steal second early in the first inning and shut down the Netherlands offensive attack. The hitters that came off the bench in the 6th inning did their jobs with both getting singles. The team were asked to make adjustments in the batting box and that was when the runs came.”
Grand Final - USA defeated Aussie Spirit - 3-0
In the first time since 2009, Aussie Spirit featured in the Championship game against the USA, going down to the strong USA team 3-0. Leigh Godfrey picked up the only hit of the game for the Aussie Spirit in the fourth innings. Vanessa Stokes, who debuted for Australia in 2012, earned the start for the Aussie Spirit pitching in her first major international final and the first time against the USA line up. Stokes pitched four innings, allowing three hits and six strike outs. Aimee Murch came on in relief for the Aussie Spirit and pitched two innings allowing three hits and giving up one run.
Unfortunately for the Aussie Spirit, a few errors allowed the USA team to makethe most of their opportunities and win the game.
It is good signs for the Aussie Spirit team, and a positive result after a 4th place finish in the 2011 US World Cup.
The final standings:
2. Aussie Spirit
5. Puerto Rico
Aussie Spirit moved to Vancouver and will start the Canadian Open Fastpitch International Tournament today, their first match is scheduled for 12:30pm Sydney time against Puerto Rico. Australia will face USA, Canada, Japan, Venezuela, New Zealand and Puerto Rico.
For more information on the Canadian Open Fastpitch International Tournament click here.
For more information on the 2012 ISF XIII Women's World Championships click here
To send a message of support to the Aussie Spirit click here
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