Aussie Spirit come out on top in another cliff-hanger

Belinda White, Stacey Porter and Justine Smethurst rejoice after the Aussie Spirit beat Canada.

Aussie Spirit come out on top in another cliff-hanger

Clare Warwick shone with bat and glove as the Aussie Spirit had their best win so far in the XVI Women’s Softball World Championship in Japan.

In a game that was in the balance until the final out was made, the Aussie Spirit, ranked fourth in the world, took an early lead and held on through a nervous seventh inning to win 2-0.

The win against the third-ranked Canadians was just what the Australians needed to make up for a loss against 12th-ranked China earlier in the tournament.

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Samantha Poole slides home to score the Aussie Spirit’s first run.

The result gives Australia a 3-1 win-loss record, tied with Canada and behind only unbeaten Japan in the Group B standings.

Australia’s next game is against Botswana on Monday at 11am AEST.

Game Four: Australia 2, Canada 0

Canada had plenty of chances to score, but strong pitching and defence by the Aussie Spirit prevented any runs.

A defensive miscue by Canada helped the Aussie Spirit get on the board in the second inning. After Samantha Poole singled, she went to third on an error by the Canadian shortstop. Poole then scored on a close play at home as Taylah Tsitsikronis reached on a fielder’s choice to give the Australians a 1-0 lead.

Canada had a great opportunity to score in the third inning when there was a hit, an error and a walk that loaded the bases. But what looked to be a run-scoring base hit by Janet Leung turned into the third out when shortstop Clare Warwick timed her leap perfectly to snare a line drive and end the threat.

Kaia Parnaby pitched four innings, allowing three hits and a walk, making quality pitches at just the right time to prevent any scoreboard damage.

The Aussie Spirit doubled their lead in the sixth inning after Leigh Godfrey singled and went to second when Chelsea Forkin’s bunt was mis-handled. Warwick, the only Spirit player to have multiple hits, capped off a great game with an RBI single that gave Australia a 2-0 lead.

Nerves were on edge as Amelia Cudicio, who had pitched two scoreless innings, took the ball for the start of the seventh. When the first two Canadians reached base via a hit and a walk, Aussie Spirit Head Coach Fabian Barlow called on the experience of Justine Smethurst to replace Cudicio.

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Some of the locals have become Aussie Spirit fans!

An attempted sacrifice bunt came unstuck thanks to some sharp work by Stacey Porter, who threw to Warwick covering third base for a force-out. Smethurst then induced a ground-out and a fly-out to end the game.

Aussie Spirit World Championship schedule:

Monday 10am: (11am AEST): Australia vs Botswana
Tuesday 6pm (7pm AEST): Australia vs Great Britain
Wednesday 7pm (8pm AEST): Australia vs Japan
Friday-Sunday: Medal rounds