Eight Now Headed for Playoffs at Women’s ISF World Championships

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CARACAS, VENEZUELA — Eights are definitely wild at this point of the International Softball Federation’s XII Women’s World Championship being played here.

The final eight round robin games played today helped determine the order of finish for the eight teams that have advanced to the playoffs while eight teams are now finished playing. Eight games will take place over the next two days, setting up the two biggest ones on Friday (July 2), when the gold, silver, and bronze medalists will all be crowned.

And what a grand finish to round robin play it was.

Yaicey Sojo smacked a 1-2 pitch over the left field fence with two outs and two runners on in the bottom of the seventh inning to give Venezuela a 5-2 win over China. In the bottom of the first inning Sojo had hit a solo home run that just stayed fair down the left field line.

Following that hit for the 1-0 lead, the home team didn’t record another hit until the bottom of the sixth inning, with that too coming off the bat of the 23-year old outfielder, meaning that (in four at-bats) she finished with all three of her team’s hits.

China tied the score at one in the top of the third inning when Lifang Zhang singled to left field to drive in Min Xu who had stolen second then third base on consecutive pitches.

The visitors took a 2-1 lead in the top of the sixth on a Jia Guo sacrifice fly that scored Yuan Wang but pitcher Mariangee Bogado held China at bay, scattering five hits for a complete-game victory.

Lu Wei pitched the first two-and-two-thirds innings for China before being relieved by Lan Wang, who took the loss.

Other drama today included a Great Britain-Argentina game that took two extra innings to decide.

The teams were scoreless after regulation (seven innings) and the score stayed that way after eight.

Argentina got on the board in the top of the ninth when Agustina Godoy’s ground ball in the infield was mishandled by second baseplayer Sarah Jones, preventing her from getting a throw home, which allowed a run to score while Godoy was thrown out at first.

But in the bottom of the ninth Caley Roberts singled to shallow left field to score Naomi Jones. With Argentina pitcher Carla Villalva not paying attention, Jones ended up at second base. That set the stage for Kristi Yoshizawa, who lined a 1-1 pitch to right field to bring home the winning run.

Stacie Townsend again started in the circle for Great Britain and picked up the win by going the full nine innings, allowing just one hit. Villalva took the loss, having relieved starter Virginia Sciuto, who was pitching in the women’s world championship at the age of just 17 years old.

Chinese Taipei and Cuba came dangerously close to a similar extra innings affair. The two teams were scoreless after six innings when Taipei finally got on the board in the top of the seventh inning with what would prove to be the game’s only run despite the fact that they banged out nine hits.

Pitcher Chung Hui Lin went the distance to pick up the win. Anislei Lopez Gutierrez went two-and-two-thirds innings for Cuba with Yusmeri Pacheco Ysalgue handling the rest of the pitching duties.

The day had begun with Japan solidifying their perfect round robin record via a 10-0 triumph over South Africa. Eri Yamada went 3-for-3 at the plate and Satoko Mabuchi and Maki Tanigawa each hit a home run as the winners totaled eleven hits in a game shortened (four innings) by the ISF run-ahead rule.

Japan scored at least one run in each inning and pitchers Emi Segawa and Emi Matsuoka combined on a three-hitter and five strikeouts.

Meanwhile, Australia was blanking Botswana by the same score. Seven different players had at least one hit in what was also a four-inning game. The winners got big second (five runs) and fourth (four) innings. Pitchers Kaia Parnaby and Karina Cannon combined on a two strikeout, no walks, two-hitter while Botswana used three different pitchers.

Keeping pace with Japan, Team USA also finished round robin play unbeaten thanks to a 9-0 decision over the Czech Republic today. The five-inning game saw winning pitcher Eileen Canney hold the Czechs to just two hits while striking out seven and issuing no walks. Nine different USA players had one hit each including Andrea Duran and Jennie Finch, who both homered.

New Zealand won their first game of the tournament and their last game of the event by winning 3-0 today over the Dominican Republic. The White Sox took the victory despite the two teams having just four hits each. Two of New Zealand’s hits were doubles, however. All of the scoring came in the top of the first inning and pitchers Megan Farrel and Michal Tangaroa combined for seven strikeouts while losing pitcher Melissa Penna tossed a complete game, striking out three and walking just one.

This evening Canada solidified the second seed in Pool A by defeating the Netherlands, 6-1. Despite a fifth inning Solange Starrenburg home run off of winning pitcher Ashley Lanz, the Dutch didn’t have their hitting shoes on tonight, registering just two other hits the whole game.

Three different Netherlands pitchers couldn’t shut down the Canadians, who got a home run of their own, off the bat of Sheena Lawrick. Her team was up 6-0 when the game was only two innings old.

The playoffs begin tomorrow with the following games (times local to Caracas):

1 pm Japan vs. Venezuela
3 pm USA vs. Canada
5 pm Chinese Taipei vs. China
7 pm Australia vs. Netherlands

For more information contact: Bruce Wawrzyniak at BruceW (at) isfsoftball.org

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