The door to Tokyo 2020 is wide open for the Travelodge Aussie Spirit as they remain undefeated following a win over the Philippines in the WBSC Asia/Oceania Olympic Qualifier on Friday night.
It’s a hugely significant victory, especially given the result in the first game of the Super Rounds when China went down to Chinese Taipei meaning Australia sits atop of the overall tournament standings.
The Qualifier’s unique format sees teams carry their record over from the pool games meaning Australia has the best record and is in the driver’s seat to make a return to the Olympics.
Australia were switched on from the very first pitch, star pitcher Kaia Parnaby fanning two batters while the defense behind let nothing past them with moments of brilliance on the diamond, including a full body dive from Stacey McManus to stop a rocket from reaching the outfield.
The Philippines proved they wouldn’t roll over, as Australia were dismissed without threatening to score.
Taylah Tsitsikronis continued to stamp her authority on the tournament, this time defensively making a double play catching a sacrifice bunt and firing the ball back to first to remove the runner.
A stalemate ensued for the first three-and-a-half innings before a fired-up Stacey Porter got to second base with a double, Carmie Sorensen getting her home with a line drive out to right field to give Australia a 1-0 lead.
Leah Parry would run for Sorensen and score before three quick outs, leaving Australia two runs to defend into the top of the fifth inning.
The Aussie Spirit were able to load the bases in the bottom of the fifth and scored after Chelsea Forkin was hit with a pitch and chalked up another run off an error and a sacrifice fly ball extending the lead to 5-0.
Australia added another courtesy of Porter’s second double of the night, Sorensen sending the seventh runner to end it early 7-0.
Parnaby’s accuracy and pace in the pitcher’s circle was far too classy for the Philippines keeping them scoreless, crucial for the runs against tally at the end of the tournament.
A win against China Saturday at 5:00pm AEST would seal Australia’s spot in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, however if they were to go down, they would join China, and possibly Chinese Taipei with a 2-1 record.
In that instance, runs against will come into play to decide the winner of the Olympic Qualifier.