World Cup day one: Mixed success for Aussie Spirit

The Aussie Spirit players before their first game of the XII Softball World Cup in Oklahoma City.

World Cup day one: Mixed success for Aussie Spirit

It didn’t take long for the Aussie Spirit to experience the highs and lows of international competition on an eventful opening day of the XII Softball World Cup in Oklahoma City.

After an impressive all-round performance against Mexico in the opening game, the Aussie Spirit went down to the Philippines in the second game.

Aussie Spirit Head Coach Fabian Barlow said the inexperienced players on his team had learned a lot from the first day of competition. “We are young, and with inexperience comes inconsistency,” Barlow said. “And that revealed itself today. We need to learn from it and be better for it.

“We did some good stuff today, especially in the batter’s box, so we can’t get locked down on results only as we try to initiate change and develop depth.”

Game One: Australia 6, Mexico 0

A grand slam by Taylah Tsitsikronis was the highlight as the Aussie Spirit got their tournament off to a flying start with a 6-0 win over Mexico.

Facing tough opposition in the first game, the Spirit struggled to capitalise on opportunities in the early innings.

With the score at 0-0 after four innings, the game looked like being a repeat of last year’s World Championship clash between these two teams, which Mexico won 1-0.

But things turned out much differently this time. Spirit newcomer Jackie Di Siervi led off the fifth inning with a single, and Jemma Freegard followed with a walk. Belinda White reached on a fielder’s choice, then Leigh Godfrey walked to load the bases.

A four-pitch walk to Stacey Porter gave the Aussies a 1-0 lead, but that was just a small taste of what was to follow. Tsitsikronis blew the game open by taking a 1-1 pitch over the left field wall, scoring White, Godfrey and Porter and giving the Spirit a 5-0 lead.

They added some insurance when Clare Warwick singled and scored on a triple by Jessica Torpey.

The six-run lead was plenty for pitcher Kaia Parnaby, who was in total control and never looked like letting Mexico back into the game. In seven dominant innings, Parnaby allowed just two hits and one walk, striking out seven and completing the game with 86 pitches.

Game Two: Philippines 7, Australia 5

The Aussie Spirit didn’t have long to savour the victory over Mexico, with the second game starting only minutes later.  Things started brightly enough as they took an early lead thanks to a Stacey Porter home run that scored Leigh Godfrey and gave Australia a 2-0 lead.

But any thoughts that the game would be easy were dispelled quickly, as leadoff batter Dani Gilmore homered off the first pitch from Spirit starter Ellen Roberts. That was the first of four runs the Philippines scored in the first inning.

Two more runs in the second inning gave the Philippines a 6-2 lead and prompted an early exit for Roberts, who was replaced by Amelia Cudicio.

A two-run homer by Erin Thras in the third inning reduced the deficit to 6-4, and Thras drove in another run in the fifth that scored Taylah Tsitsikronis.

Needing two runs in the seventh inning to tie the scores, the Spirit gave it a good shot. Porter and Thras walked and Jessica Torpey singled to load the bases, but that was close as they could get as the Philippines won their first game of the tournament.

The Australians face another tough day of competition tomorrow, with games against the USA Junior National Team and Puerto Rico.