Aussie Spirit miss out on World Cup bronze

The Aussie Spirit players in the dugout before the bronze medal playoff game against Canada at the XI Softball World Cup.

Aussie Spirit miss out on World Cup bronze

The Aussie Spirit missed out on a bronze medal from the XII Softball World Cup in Oklahoma City with a 3-0 loss to Canada in the final game.

In a tournament full of dramatic moments, the drama started early in the bronze medal playoff game as Australia’s best pitcher, Kaia Parnaby, was forced out of the game in the first inning after taking a searing line drive off her leg.

The first piece of good news after that scary incident was that Parnaby appears not to have sustained any long-term injury. The other bright spot was the performance of Ellen Roberts, who came into the game much earlier than expected and pitched brilliantly to keep her team in the game.

Aussie Spirit Head Coach Fabian Barlow said his team played well after that eventful first inning. “We were disappointed in our performance today vs Canada but took a positive out of Ellen’s contribution,” Barlow said.

He paid tribute to some of the younger players in the team who were given opportunities to play, and suggested that trend would continue as the Spirit team heads to Surrey, British Columbia for the Canada Cup.

Ellen Roberts.

Ellen Roberts.

“Today’s effort again reconfirmed why we are here in regard to exposing new players to international competition and expanding our playing depth,” Barlow said. “We look forward to the opportunities Vancouver will present to show what we have learned from Oklahoma.”

Japan won the World Cup with a 2-1 win over the USA in the gold medal game.

In the bronze medal playoff game, the Spirit got off to a seemingly good start when the first two batters, Belinda White and Leigh Godfrey, singled. But both were stranded when Canadian pitcher Karissa Hovinga shut down the next three Spirit hitters.

Things took a turn for the worse in the bottom of the first inning, when Canadian batter Jenn Salling hit a line drive that collected Parnaby. And when the next batter, Holly Speers, greeted reliever Roberts with a three-run homer, it looked like being an ugly game for the Spirit.

But Roberts settled down after that first-inning drama and pitched brilliantly, with help from solid infield and outfield defence. For the next five innings she allowed no runs on just two hits and one walk.

Unfortunately for the Spirit, they couldn’t score against Hovinga. Godfrey singled again in the third inning but was again left stranded. Taylah Tsitsikronis led off the fourth with a single, and reached third base after a sacrifice bunt and a groundout, but could not score. The same thing happened to Jacki Di Siervi, who had reached on a fielding error, in the fifth inning.

Australia’s last chance came in the seventh inning, when Jessica Torpey reached on an error and went to second on Di Siervi’s single. But relief pitcher Sara Plourde came in and ended the threat with a strikeout and a groundout.