The Asia Pacific Cup, the biggest women’s softball event in Australia since the 2000 Olympics, kicked off in Sydney today with a feast of world-class softball that thrilled fans at Blacktown International Sportspark.
After the first day of the four-day tournament, Australia and Japan have set the pace. Both teams won their both of their opening-day games and established themselves as favourites to collect the trophy on Sunday.
The Japanese looked impressive in scoring 13 runs and conceding only one. But the Aussie Spirit went one better, not allowing a run while scoring 15.
The Asia Pacific Cup continues on Friday, with the first game at 11 am.
DAY ONE GAME REPORTS
Japan, the highest-ranked team in the competition, got the tournament off to a flying start with a 3-1 win over Italy.
But the Japanese didn’t have it all their own way. They could not manage to score more than one run in any inning against solid pitching by Italian starter Greta Cecchetti, who allowed just one earned run in five innings.
Yuka Ichiguchi was the only player with multiple hits, and leadoff batter Nodoka Harada drove in two of Japan’s three runs.
Starting pitcher Kana Nakano allowed only two hits and one walk in six innings.
This was a very tight contest early, with neither team scoring for the first three innings.
But China blew it open in the fourth, scoring four runs on five hits, including a triple by Jia Chen and a two-run single by Huaining Yuan.
Lan Wang dominated for China, pitching a complete game and allowing just four hits and no walks, with seven strikeouts.
After neither team could get on the scoreboard in the first two innings, Japan took control in the third, scoring six runs.
As if that wasn’t enough, they added another four runs in the fourth inning to end the game early.
Pitcher Yukari Hamamura was in complete control, allowing just one his and one walk while striking out three.
Natsuko Sugama had a great game with the bat, driving in three runs and scoring twice. Nozomi Nagasaki also drove in three runs with two hits.
The All Stars wasted no time, scoring three runs in the first inning. Verity Long-Droppert singled to score Rachel Lack, then scored herself as Jessica Torpey launched the tournament’s first home run over the left-centre fence.
Lack tripled in the second inning and was driven in by Carmelle Sorensen with what would turn out to be the last run of the game.
Starting pitcher Vanessa Stokes did not allow a hit or a walk in four innings. And Stephanie Trzcinski erased any chance of a New Zealand comeback by closing out the final three innings.
New Zealand relief pitcher Samantha Parks was impressive, allowing just two hits and no walks in four scoreless innings.
Georgia Casey’s bases-loaded double in the first inning got the Aussie Spirit off to a flyer against Italy, setting the scene for a comfortable win.
Casey went to third on a wild pitch, then scored on Jade Wall’s single to put the Spirit ahead 4-0 after one inning.
Leigh Godfrey’s RBI single in the second inning made it 5-0, and the scoreline would have looked even more lopsided if not for the fact that the Italians turned two double plays in the first two innings.
Wall’s second hit of the game, a double, scored Taylah Tsitsikronis in the fifth inning. An inning later it was all over, as Godfrey’s single scored Belinda White to give the Spirit a 7-0 win.
Starting pitcher Kaia Parnaby was always in control, limiting Italy to two hits and no walks, with seven strikeouts, over four innings. Reliever Ellen Roberts completed the job with two solid innings.
Having won their earlier game, the All Stars came down to earth with a thud against a hot-hitting Chinese Taipei.
Spirit starting pitcher Sandra Holden did not look in any trouble early, breezing through the first inning and getting two quick outs in the second. But four consecutive two-out singles gave Chinese Taipei a 3-0 lead.
After the All Stars scored twice in the third, Chinese Taipei added another in the bottom half. But the real damage was done in the fouth inning, when they scored five runs to open up a big lead. Again, it was all done in singles. Hsuan Liu, Yi Yen, Yi-Hsuan Su, Feng-Chen Lin and Pei-Chun Lin all singled, and Chih-Ying Lin hit a sacrifice fly to make the score 9-2.
After that, Carmelle Sorensen’s home run was the only highlight for the All Stars, while Chinese Taipei added a run on four more singles in the fifth to end the game.
Once again, the Aussie Spirit got busy early, scoring three runs in the first inning. A Taylah Tsitsikronis double drove in Leigh Godfrey and Stacey Porter, then Melinda Weaver singled to score Tsitsikronis.
The Spirit repeated the dose with another three runs in the second inning. Belinda White, Clare Warwick, Stacey Porter and Jade Wall all had base hits to give the Spirit a 6-0 lead.
They padded that lead in the fourth inning, as Weaver doubled to score Georgia Casey and Wall.
Starting pitcher Amelia Cudicio was brilliant, allowing just two hits and one walk in four innings, striking out seven. Tarni Stepto completed the job with a clean inning.
Standings after Day One
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