Ella Matteucci and Allison Schroder, both from the small Village of Fruitvale in southeastern B.C., competed for Team Canada women’s baseball team in the Friendship Series against Team USA in Thunder Bay, Ont. last week.
Team USA won the five game series, 3-2, but it was Schroder who earned the victory for Canada in Game 5 on Monday, Aug. 1 in one of the best performances of the series.
Team Canada exploded for an eight-run, eight-hit, bottom of the first, off of U.S. pitcher Kelsie Whitmore, who had previously tossed five scoreless innings against the Canucks to open the series.
But it was Schroder, a 20-year-old right hander, who earned the victory, throwing five innings of shutout ball, striking out five and giving up just three hits on 63 pitches.
The U.S. scored four runs on three hits and a walk off Schroder in the sixth inning, but 17-year-old Tess Sawkins came on in the seventh and allowed no runs for the 8-4 final and Team Canada’s second victory.
“I was really happy with the series,” added Team Canada manager Ashley Stephenson in a release. “We got off to a tough start, but we knew our group was young and that we’d have to build. Today was kind of the peak of our five days, we started off with a bang but for me the biggest thing was our pitching performances.
“Against the US, it’s always such a big rivalry, we know they’re a good team and that it would be a big test for us so we’re really happy with our performance overall.”
Schroder earned the start in Game 1 but took the loss giving up seven hits and six earned runs through four innings in a 16-3 defeat. The U.S. also took Game 2 by a score of 7-1, but Team Canada rebounded with a 10-8 victory in Game 3. The visitors won Game 4 in a 7-0 shut out, before Canada rebounded for the Game 5 victory.
The 29-year-old Matteucci is one of the veteran players on the team, and has been an instrumental member for the past decade. She has represented Canada at three WBSC Women’s Baseball World Cups winning a silver medal in 2016 and bronze in 2018. She was also part of Canada’s squad that captured silver at the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto.
The Friendship Series marks the first competitive series for Team Canada since 2019 due to the pandemic.
Organizers also paid tribute to one of its longest enduring players in Amanda Asay before the start of Game 1 on Thursday with a moment of silence and her parents, Loris and George, in attendance.
Asay died in a skiing accident near Nelson in January at age 33.
Stephenson, played alongside Asay for 14 years during her playing career and then coached her the last couple of years.
“Amanda was a good friend of mine,” Stephenson said in a release at a team practice prior to the series. “She was probably the best teammate I ever had. Unbelievable competitor — she was our leader, our captain.
“This is the first year we haven’t had her with us since 2005, [when] she started. So it’ll be an emotional time for our group. She was a competitor and we’re going to make sure we play the right way for her.”
Team Canada is ranked fourth in the world behind Tawain, Chinese-Taipei, and Japan with the USA ranked in the fifth spot.