Aussie Spirit off to a mixed start at World Championship

The Aussie Spirit celebrate as they win their first game of the XVI Women's Softball World Championship in Chiba, Japan.

Aussie Spirit off to a mixed start at World Championship

The Aussie Spirit had mixed fortunes as they started their World Championship campaign with a double-header in Chiba, Japan today.

The Spirit opened their tournament on a high note with a come-from-behind 7-1 win against Venezuela.

aussie spirit

Ellen Roberts pitches for the Aussie Spirit against Venezuela.

But in the second game on a day when the schedule did them no favours, they lost to China 1-0 in searing heat.

The Aussie Spirit take on Italy tomorrow at 11am AEST.

Game One: Australia 7, Venezuela 1

A glance at the final score might suggest this was a one-sided game, but the Aussie Spirit were made to work hard for the victory.

Venezuela held the lead after three innings, courtesy of a solo home run by Jamee Juarez in the second inning.

And with starting pitcher Michelle Floyd in command, it looked like a dangerous situation for the Spirit against the world’s 17th-ranked team.

But the comeback started in the bottom of the fourth inning, sparked by a walk to Jade Wall, a single by Clare Warwick and a daring and successful double steal. Carmelle Sorensen then walked to load the bases, setting the stage for pinch hitter Samantha Poole to drive in two runs with a single to left field.

The 2-1 lead and eventual win was fitting reward for Australian starting pitcher Kaia Parnaby, who looked in complete control before and after the Juarez home run. Parnaby struck out six in her four innings of work while allowing three hits and no walks.

Coming on in relief with a one-run lead, Ellen Roberts made sure that was as close as the Venezuelans would get. Roberts allowed just one base-runner in three innings, striking out four and walking none.

Jade Wall rounds third and heads for home against Venezuela.

The game changed from a tight contest to a comfortable lead in the sixth inning as the Aussie Spirit piled on five runs.

Sorensen kicked things off with a double, and Stacey McManus walked. Stacey Porter, who walked four times for the game, loaded the bases. Pinch runner Tamieka Whitefield scored when a throw from third base meant for the catcher hit her, then Leigh Godfrey singled up the middle to drive in two runs.

If insurance runs were going to be needed, Chelsea Forkin provided two of them with a home run that sent the Venezuelan right fielder crashing through the fence.




Game Two: China 1, Australia 0

A brilliant pitching display by two Chinese right-handers consigned the Aussie Spirit to their first loss of the tournament.

Australia could manage only two base hits as Xinxing Zhao and Lan Wang, helped by flawless defence, snuffed out any scoring opportunities.

The damage was done in the fifth inning when Li Qi singled, scoring Yan Zhang for the only run of the game.

aussie spirit

Plenty of Australian fans have travelled to Chiba to support the Aussie Spirit.

The outcome was unfortunate for Aussie Spirit starting pitcher Kaia Parnaby, who restricted China to just four hits, with five strikeouts and no walks.

In relief, Justine Smethurst was also highly effective. She allowed three hits and no walks, while striking out two.

Hits were hard to come by for the Spirit, with only Chelsea Forkin and Clare Warwick reaching base.

Aussie Spirit World Championship schedule:

Saturday 10am (11am AEST): Australia vs Italy
Sunday 2.30pm (3.30pm AEST): Australia vs Canada
Monday 10am: (11am AEST): Australia vs Botswana
Tuesday 6pm (7pm AEST): Australia vs Great Britain
Wednesday 7pm (8pm AEST): Australia vs Japan