Canada Advances to Medal Round with Two Wins at Pan American Championship
Published by Gilles LeBlanc
Published on August 17, 2013
(Guaynabo, Puerto Rico) The Canadian Senior Women’s National Team advanced to the medal round of the VIII Pan American Championship after a pair of wins on Saturday, defeating Brazil 5-0 and Puerto Rico 6-0. Jenna Caira (Toronto, ON) fired a no-hitter in the first game against Brazil, while Sara Plourde (Fredericton, NB) and Marina Demore (Richmond, BC) combined for a three-hitter in the second game against Puerto Rico. Team Canada will now face Cuba at 1:00pm EDT, with the winner of that game advancing to the Gold medal game against the United States.
In the first game of the day, Canada jumped out to an early lead by scoring three runs in the top of the first inning. Victoria Hayward (Toronto, ON) worked a one-out walk, Jen Yee (North Delta, BC) singled and Jenny Gilbert (Saskatoon, SK) fouled of three pitches before hitting a triple to bring both runners in to score. Sara Hopwood (Surrey, BC) followed with a single to push Gilbert to the plate and give Canada a quick 3-0 lead.
Both teams went down in order in the second before Canada struck for two more runs in the top of the third. Yee led off the inning with a homerun, and Canada loaded the bases with one out on a pair of walks and an error before a hit by pitch brought in the fifth Canadian run.
Canadian pitcher Jenna Caira retired Brazil in order in each of the first three innings before hitting a batter with two outs in the fourth. That would be her only blemish of the game, as she retired 21 of 22 Brazilian batters she faced to earn the no-hitter, striking out ten batters along the way.
Box Score and Play-by-Play: Canada 5 vs. Brazil 0
Yee led Canada at the plate with a homerun and two singles, while Gilbert contributed a two-run triple. Megan Timpf (Port Dover, ON) registered a two-out double in the fifth, while Hayward and Hopwood each contributed a single. With the win, Canada guaranteed itself a top-four finish at the event and earned a berth to the 2014 ISF Women’s World Championship in Haarlem, Netherlands.
Looking to earn a spot in the medal round, Canada took on Puerto Rico in their second elimination game of the day. Just as they had done earlier, the red and white jumped out to an early lead by scoring two runs in the top of the first inning. Caitlin Lever (Buffalo, NY) got things going with an inside the park homerun to lead off the game, and Jenny Gilbert later launched a solo homerun of her own to give Canada an early 2-0 lead. Puerto Rico put a runner on base on a walk in the bottom of the inning, but could not advance her any further.
The following inning, Puerto Rico threatened to score by loading the bases with no outs on a walk, a double and another walk, but Canadian starting pitcher Sara Plourde was able to work her way out of trouble by inducing an infield fly and struck out the two next batters to hold Puerto Rico off the scoreboard and leave three runners on base. Plourde would settle in after that, cruising through the middle innings before being relieved by Demore to start the sixth.
In the top of the third, Lever hit a one-out single, stole second base and advanced to third on a single by Hayward before scoring on an error. Both teams went down in order in the fourth before Canada added another run to its lead to start the fifth. Meagan Baird (Ajax, ON) started the inning with a double and was replaced by Larissa Franklin (Maple Ridge, BC) on the bases. She was sacrificed over to third before scoring on a single by Hayward to increase the lead to 4-0. The following inning, Sara Hopwood drew a walk, moved up to second on a wild pitch and scored on a single by Timpf. In the bottom of the frame, Puerto Rico put two runners on base with a single and a walk, but Demore induced a pair of ground balls to get out of the inning. Canada added another run on an error in the top of the seventh and Demore struck out the last two batters after allowing a one-out single to end the game.
Box Score and Play-by-Play: Canada 6 vs. Puerto Rico 0
Plourde was solid in the pitcher’s circle for Canada, allowing only one hit and four walks while striking out eight batters in five innings. Demore pitched two innings of scoreless relief, allowing two hits and walking one with a pair of strikeouts. Lever and Hayward each had a pair of hits at the top of the lineup, with Vicky Rumph (Mount Forest, ON), Gilbert, Timpf and Baird each chipping in with a hit apiece.
Team Canada advanced to the medal round on Sunday with the win over Puerto Rico and will now face Cuba at 1:00pm EDT in the Bronze medal game. The winner of that game will move on to face the United States for the Gold medal shortly thereafter. In other playoff games on Saturday, Puerto Rico defeated the Dominican Republic 5-2 to advance to face Canada, the United States blanked Cuba 5-0 to earn a direct berth to the Gold medal game, and the Dominican Republic shut out Brazil 5-0 to finish fifth place.
Following Saturday’s results, the top five teams from the Pan American region have been identified for the 2014 ISF Women’s World Championship, with Canada, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and the United States all qualifying for the event. In addition, those same five teams and Brazil have qualified for the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, becoming the first teams to qualify for the event in any sport.
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