Canada loses hope for softball gold medal
A 1-0 extra-innings loss to Japan on Sunday at the Tokyo Olympics ended Canada’s hopes for a gold medal in softball.
While before a gold-medal matchup against the top-ranked Americans (4-0), Japan extended its record to 4-0, Canada fell to 2-2.
Following the agonizing defeat, Sara Groenewegen, the Canadian pitcher said while she was crying that their team is a phenomenal group of women who are gritty and love each other.
Meanwhile, ahead of its final round-robin game against Italy on Monday Canada has clinched a spot in the bronze contest. Yet it’s not determined which team Canada will play against.
Canada has not won a softball medal at the Olympics. Canada loses the hope to win softball gold medal. The best result for Canada’s softball was when they finished the Games with fourth place in Beijing in 2008.
Head coach Smith talks about the results
After losing 1-0 to the U.S. on Thursday, Mark Smith, Canadian head coach said they have given up three runs in the Olympic Games two of them against the two teams that are competing to win the gold medal. He doesn’t think they have to change a whole lot. Smith thinks what they need is a little more timely hitting.
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Smith also said they knew it would be a one-run game and it might come down to late innings. He added they had a couple of opportunities to push runs across themselves and couldn’t get it done; they finally were able to make good on one.
What happened in the game against Japan?
While all teams started the 8th inning with a runner on second, Canada went down in the top half quietly.
Miu Goto, the Japanese pitcher, struck out all 6 batters she faced in the 7th and 8th innings and set the stage for the walk-off win.
What Goto did followed Yukiko Ueno, the Japanese starter, who appeared perfect through six innings, scattered just 4 hits without surrendering a walk to the Canadians.
While Japan loaded the bases with one out, Canada teetered in the bottom of the seventh.
The trouble started after Janet Leung couldn’t make the throw to first for the second out of the inning and left the runners on the first and third. But after an deliberate walk, Ichiguchi lined out to second and Naito popped up to first after the battle with Danielle Lawrie.
Smith said they have invested a lot in preparation for this event. He said they went to Japan believing they could go home a gold medalist and over the last two years, all of their focus has been on that. Smith added that they have all sacrificed in their lives incredibly to get to this position.
Smith filing protest caused the long delay
Smith, filing a formal protest with the World Baseball Softball Confederation pulled the team off the field with one out in the 5th inning.
Despite the exact appeal not being clear, Smith had just pulled Jenna Caira from the game for Lawrie. During the delay, at one point Lawrie handed the ball back to Caira because Caira appeared set to retake the mound.
But after the game was resumed, Lawrie was pitching. Lawrie induced two ground-outs on three pitches and kept the game tied.
In the fifth inning, Canada posed its best threat following a leadoff double from Jenn Salling. After Polidori advancing Jenn Salling to third with a groundout, Groenewegen was hit by a pitch. But Entzminger struck out and Leung grounded out and left a pair on base.
Starting for the fourth straight game, Groenewegen tossed three scoreless innings. In the fourth inning, Caira come on and retired four of the five batters she faced.
Earlier on Sunday, the United States beat Australia (1-3) which was no. 8 by a 2-1 score. Meanwhile Mexico (0-3_ which was no. 5 faced Italy (0-3) in the late game.
The top two teams will play for gold, while the third- and fourth-place teams will battle for bronze.