IBAF World Cup of Women's Baseball has been going on all week at Telus Field in Edmonton, and the first round is now complete, and the playoffs are being played this weekend. Yes, there is girl's baseball-real baseball, not softball-and not just in the movies. Canada has had a very impressive showing so far. The team is made up of 20 women from across the country ranging in age from 17 to 29, including four from right here in Alberta who have been major contributors to the team's success so far. These Albertans who are representing team Canada are Heidi Northcott, a pitcher from Rocky Mountain House, Nicole Luchanski, a second baseman (basewoman? baseperson? someone please help me out with the proper nomenclature here) playing in her hometown of Edmonton, Tara Sliwkanich a pitcher from fort Saksatchewan, and Meagan Cornelssen, an outfielder from Grande Prairie.
The squad started off strong, with their first two contests being mercy-shortened 5 inning affairs, 12-2 over China - with Luchanski going 3-4 scoring 3 runs and knocking in 2 while Cornelssen added 3 RBIs - and 14-2 over Venezuela.
They then had a close match with Australia, scoring 2 runs in the bottom of the 6th to take a 5-3 lead, and holding on for the 5-4 win. They then had to face the American women. They held a comfortable 5-1 lead heading into the last inning, and then added 3 more runs. But team USA improbably scored 7 runs to tie it and send the game to extras. However, some wild pitching helped Canada score 7 runs of their own in the first extra frame, and we ended up easily winning 15-9. The next day, the women had another easy win, defeating the Netherlands 19-2. Sliwkanich got the win, only giving up 1 hit while striking out 4 through 3 innings. After a day of rest, we played Cuba, and again won a mercy contest, although it wasn't until the 6th inning that we got the requisite 10 run lead. Luchanski was the hitting star, going 4-5 and knocking in 3 including the game-winning (game-mercying?) walkoff hit while Northcott picked up the W on the mound. The last game in round 1 was against Japan. The Japanese team was 5-1, whose only loss was against team USA earlier in the week. Japan jumped on the bat early, getting off to a 9-1 lead after 4 innings. But the Canadian women fought back, managing to get the tying run to the plate in the 7th inning, but ultimately ended up on the short end of a 9-7 final.
With this loss, they ended the first round in 2nd place, with an identical 6-1 record as Japan, but having lost in their head to head game. This sets up a semifinal match against Team USA, Saturday at 7:30 PM, with the winner taking on the winner of the Japan/Australia game on Sunday at 5 PM for the championship.
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