CARACAS, VENEZUELA -- They say that defense wins championships so it would seem that pitching might be the key to winning the International Softball Federation’s 16-nation XII Women’s World Championship being played here. However, after four shutout decisions opened Day 2 of the ten-day tournament, offenses started taking over.
Play concluded this evening with a jam-packed Independence Stadium hosting Venezuela’s 4-1 thriller over Australia.
Venezuela coach Kim Wright said, "We’re improving everyday, we got better today, and we need to keep improving in the days to come."
Mariangee Bogado pitched a complete game for the victory and, through an interpreter, said, "Australia is very good and has seen me three or four times, so they’re used to me, but we played a better game."
Whether or not she’ll continue to be the workhorse of the staff remains to be seen as Coach Wright wouldn’t comment in the post-game press conference, saying only, "Our goal is to make the playoffs and we’ll choose our pitchers wisely."
"It was a tough environment tonight with the fans, and this (Venezuela) is a group of players that has been together for a long time," said Australia coach Fabian Barlow. "Most of them were there (at the last world championship) in 2006 and (at the Olympics) in 2008, and then they got the boost from the crowd.
"We just need to be better for it and come out strong tomorrow against China," Barlow said. "We’ve got a brand new bunch making their debut at a world championship. There were probably about 13 out there tonight."
The home team opened with two runs in the bottom of the first inning courtesy of a Denise Fuenmayor home run to right field. The Aussies came right back, however, in the top of the second with a solo home run from Jodie Bowering to virtually the same spot.
Venezuela added to their lead when Rubilena Rojas was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth, which brought home Maria Soto who’d singled with one out. One inning later Geraldine Puertas hit a sacrifice fly that scored Maribel Riera for the game’s final run.
Australia put just a little scare into the home team with two outs in the bottom of the seventh when Danielle Stewart doubled and Bowering singled, but the one swing of the bat that could’ve tied it turned out to be the game’s final out by way of a Chelsea Forkin fly out to right field.
The day had begun with a morning matchup of Commonwealth countries as Great Britain prevailed over South Africa, 3-0. Stacie Townsend took care of the offense and defense, going 3-for-4 at the plate and throwing a complete-game, seven-strikeout, four-hitter. As a team the winners pounded out eleven hits with Almarie Kannemeyer suffering the loss for South Africa.
Meanwhile, after a scoreless first inning, China broke out with five runs in the second inning and seven more in the third en route to a big 12-0 win over Botswana. China scattered nine hits including two each from two different players while Botswana was held without a hit in a game shortened (four innings) by the ISF’s run-ahead rule.
Good thing for the winners too as they were right back on the field for the next game, against defending ISF women’s world champion USA. The Chinese were up to the task, however, going six scoreless innings with the Americans before Natasha Watley drove in what would be the game’s only run with a single in the top of the seventh inning.
Cat Osterman pitched a complete game for Team USA, striking out eleven. Two China pitchers combined for eight strikeouts, with Li Qi taking the loss.
Meanwhile, over at the other venue, Japan was blanking regional rival Chinese Taipei, 5-0. Pitcher Mika Someya held the Taiwanese batters at bay, striking out eight and surrendering just two hits. Lin Su Hua was the losing pitcher. Two relievers followed her and the trio struck out none and gave up nine hits including two each by Yukiyo Mine and Ayumi Karino.
Japan yesterday had dominated Argentina, who rebounded with a 4-3 win today over South Africa, dropping the latter to 0-2 on the day and for the tournament. The teams each scored twice in the first inning and once in the third inning before Argentina finally pushed the winning run across the plate in the top of the seventh when Florencia Olheiser drove in Agustina Godoy who had doubled.
Nicolene Jones went the distance for South Africa in a losing effort, while Virginia Sciudo picked up the win.
As the afternoon moved on, New Zealand took the field for their first game, breaking out with an 8-1 triumph over Botswana (0-2). Char Pouaka hit a solo home run and Naoupu Lote went 2-for-2 at the plate for the White Sox. Botswana collected four hits in the five-inning (run-ahead rule) game, with three of them – including one double – coming off the bat of Marea Modutlwa.
Next up came a rematch of last year’s European Championship in Spain, where the Netherlands defeated Great Britain for that regional title. The result was the same this time as the Dutch edged GB, 5-4. The Netherlands took an early lead on a solo home run by Nathalie Gosewehr, who was joined by two teammates in finishing with two hits each. On the losing side, again it was pitcher Stacie Townsend who made noise with her bat, going 2-for-3 at the plate, as did teammate Kristi Yoshizawa.
Great Britain overcame the Gosewehr home run with a four-run bottom of the fourth inning, but the Netherlands scored twice in the top of the sixth and top of the seventh and got a combined ten strikeouts from Dagmar Bloeming and Lindsey Meadows to hold off their European foe.
Runs were aplenty when the Czech Republic squared off against the Dominican Republic and this game too saw a comeback. The Czechs took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first, only to see the Dominicans come right back in the top of the second with four runs. Little did they know that would be the last of their offense for the rest of the game.
The Czech Republic, on the other hand, came back with a three-run third inning to tie the game, then got the eventual winning run in the fourth before scoring three more times in the sixth for an 8-4 victory. The winners had 12 hits, with seven players getting into that column, five of which had two hits each including Eva Rendovla who had two doubles.
Canada and Cuba each had their first game of the tournament tonight, facing each other in a showdown between two teams from the Americas. The Canadians came out on top, 6-0, in a game that had déjà vu written all over it, as these teams played almost a year ago in Venezuela in the qualifying tournament that got them to the 2010 ISF event.
The victors don’t have much time to enjoy tonight’s victory however, being scheduled in one of tomorrow’s first games – 11 a.m. (local time) versus Chinese Taipei.
For more information contact: Bruce Wawrzyniak at Brucew@isfsoftball.org
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