Women’s baseball: Canada splits games in Japan

Fruitvale’s Ella Matteucci and the Team Canada women’s baseball team prepare for the IBAF Women’s Baseball World Cup in Miyazaki next week.

Fruitvale’s Ella Matteucci and the Team Canada women’s baseball team split a pair of exhibition games in Kazo City, Japan as they prepare for the IBAF Women’s Baseball World Cup in Miyazaki next week.

The Canadians began their four-game exhibition series with a 5-4 win over the U18 Japanese national team on Sunday before falling to the Japanese University All-Stars 4-3 Monday.

In the opening match, Swift Current’s Bradi Wall launched the game-ending blow, a walkoff double to the wall in right field after back-to-back walks were issued to pinch-hitter Matteucci and second baseman Nicole Luchanski to start the bottom of the seventh inning. The two-runs erased a 3-2 deficit giving the Canadian squad its first win as a group since it left Vancouver on Friday.

However, a more experienced team of Japanese All-Stars would hold onto their early lead as they scored one in the bottom of the first inning and then added to that total with a three-run fourth inning to hand Canada its first loss.

“That’s why we play those games,” said Team Canada manager Andre Lachance. “The main thing that we need to work on is our pitch selection. We’ve got to go deeper in the count. In the fifth inning, we only had one girl who went up to three balls in the count. We need to make things happen by hitting the ball hard on the ground and hitting line drives.

“That’s what happened when we scored a couple runs – we hit ground balls and line drives and created some opportunities.So we need to work on that and we’ll be successful. That’s what made us successful in Edmonton in 2012.”

At the most recent World Cup event in Edmonton in 2012, the Canadian women earned a bronze medal, while Japan beat the U.S.A. in the gold-medal match.

Next up for the Women’s National Team is the third of four exhibition games in Japan as they take on Saitawa Sakae with the first pitch slated for 11:30 p.m. EST. Mills gets the start for Team Canada and will be followed on the hill by rookies Heather Healey and southpaw Claire Eccles, both making their debuts for the national squad.

Australia, Canada, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, Japan, Netherlands, United States and Venezuela are the National Team participants in the Sixth Women’s Baseball World Cup, starting Monday and going to Sept. 7.