Sports Japan in championship game at Canada Cup with win over Australia

14:32  17 july  2017
14:32  17 july  2017 Source:   The Province

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Japan thrashed Australia 14-2 on Sunday afternoon to earn an automatic spot in Monday’s 8 p.m. championship game . Canadian games at the Canada Cup , or its Canadian Open precursor, routinely draw 2,000 fans to the South Surrey complex.

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The Canada Cup holds its championship final Monday night at Softball City and the most interesting stat to come out of it may be attendance, what with the tournament’s signature team bowing out of title contention early.

Team Canada was eliminated from proceedings Saturday afternoon with a 6-3 loss to the Philippines. Last summer’s bronze medallist at the WBSC world championships at Softball City, Canada finished this event at 3-4, including a forfeit win over Pakistan.

Japan thrashed Australia 14-2 on Sunday afternoon to earn an automatic spot in Monday’s 8 p.m. championship game. Australia plays at 5:30 p.m. Monday in the consolation bracket against Venezuela, which beat Puerto Rico 2-1 on Sunday night.

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U-18 WNT Travels Down Under to play Canada , Australia U-20s. Lloyd scored both U.S. goals in the 2012 Olympic gold medal game (a 2-1 win over Japan ), and the sole goal in the 2008 gold-medal game (1-0 over Brazil).

The Americans beat Japan 7-3 in the world finale before a crowd of 4,500 at Softball City last July. Many had watched Japan beat Canada 11-1 in the semifinal earlier in the day.

Canadian games at the Canada Cup, or its Canadian Open precursor, routinely draw 2,000 fans to the South Surrey complex.

“Our sport has shown a lot more parity in the last week than we’ve seen before,” Greg Timm, the Canada Cup tournament chairman, said Sunday morning. “It’s been unbelievably equal on any given day. The Philippines, Mexico, Chinese Taipei, the Canadian team. … They’re all in a group where you can’t tell (who will win) each day.”

Few sell softball like Timm, who was also at the helm of the worlds last summer. He’s also far too savvy to bash the Canadian side publicly, even if he actually felt that’s what they merited.

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Having surprisingly failed to qualify for Canada 2014, Japan bounced back in style to win the 2015 AFC U-19 Women’s Championship . Japan won all four matches on the way to the final, highlighted by a 2-0 group-stage win over Australia and a 1-0 semifinal win over Korea Republic.

Scored the first goal in the 3-2 championship game win over Canada … A member of the U.S. U-19 team that participated in the 2004 FIFA U-19 Women’s World Cup in Thailand, she was the only uncapped player on the roster heading into the tournament …

Then again, there’s evidence to back up what he’s saying about the level of competition becoming closer. Canada came to Softball City directly from the World Cup of Softball tournament in Oklahoma City, where they finished third overall. They blanked the Aussies 3-0 in the bronze medal game and finished 5-3 overall, including a 9-2 win over the Philippines that ended in a mercy-ruled five innings.

Veteran shortstop Jenn Salling hit .500 (10-for-20) in seven games at that event. The Port Coquitlam native had just one at-bat at the Canada Cup due to an undisclosed injury.

As well, Canadian ace pitcher Sara Groenewegen was uncharacteristically knocked around at this tournament, finishing with an 18.00 earned run average, giving up 18 earned runs over a combined seven innings in three appearances.

Burnout could have easily been at play. The right-hander from White Rock had skipped the World Cup event due to commitments with National Pro Fastpitch, the six-team American pro loop. In May, Groenewegen completed her senior season at the University of Minnesota, earning NFCA All-American honours for a third time thanks to her 31-4 record, 0.63 earned run average and 307 strikeouts in 211 2/3 innings.

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© The Canadian Press , 2017.

A win over Japan qualified the Swedes for the next round, along with the Germans out of Group A. England, in only its second World Cup , joined those squads in the quarterfinal, as well as Korea DPR, Australia and hosts China PR.

Bright spots for Canada included Surrey first sacker Holly Speers, who hit .647 (11-for-17), with two homers and 11 RBI.

Coach Mark Smith’s side now starts preparing for the  Pan American championships, which run Aug. 4-13 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Five teams will qualify for the 2018 worlds in Chiba, Japan.

Meanwhile, Timm and his group are already getting to work on further improving the Canada Cup, which includes youth divisions as well. There’s been influx of money from governments and sponsors into the sport with it set to return to the Summer Olympics at the 2020 Tokyo Games.

Oddly enough, the Americans opted to not attend the Canada Cup this year due to budget constraints, according to Timm. He hopes to have them on hand next year.

“We have lots of ideas of how we can recruit even more teams,” said Timm. “We want to build the elite event in the world here.”

The Americans are among the 20 teams slated to be at the Pan American championships. They dropped a 2-1 decision to Japan in the World Cup championship earlier this month.

sewen@postmedia.com

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