GB Junior Women drop out of the consolation round

Fri 15 Jul 2011

by Bob Fromer

Vancouver, Canada: July 15 -- Playoffs began today at the 2011 Canadian Open Fastpitch Tournament after a day of rain on Thursday that washed out a number of games, including the final round-robin fixture for the GB Junior (Under-19) Women's Fastpitch Team.

By finishing with a record of 1-4 in the truncated round-robin, GB found themselves in the Consolation Playoffs, which is essentially a single-elimination tournament -- except that you are guaranteed to play at least two games.

So to have a chance of getting to the Consolation Final,. GB would have had to beat Delta Heat 94 this afternoon. That would have earned them a game this evening. Win that, and the team would have progressed to what would effectively be a semi-final tomorrow. And so on....

But if GB lost to Delta Heat 94, then they would be out of the running for prizes and would have only a final "consolation game" tomorrow.

And so it came to pass.

It was another close game and GB had chances to win it. But like so many other games in this competition, GB committed too many errors and gave up too many unearned runs, and in this case went down by a score of 5-2.

It also didn't help that GB bats, which have generally been very prolific, dried up in this game. GB had just two hits, and they needed help from the opposition to score their two runs, which came on a three-base throwing error by Delta Heat pitcher Stephanie Koop.

Good news

All that was the bad news. But there have been positives in every game for a GB Team that came here for precisely the kind of challenge this tournament has given them, and today's game was no exception. Two fine catches in left field by Susie Hall, one at full speed coming forward and the other going back to snare a rising line drive, confirmed her growing prowess as an outfielder.

Second base player Sara Robb made a long run to snare a pop fly in foul territory behind first base and also continued to get bat on ball with consistency.

The GB infield pulled off two fine double plays -- one from pitcher to first to home on a bunt with a runner on third base, and then a slightly more standard 1-6-3 play that was nicely turned by relief pitcher Ellie Pamenter and shortstop Amy Wells.

Third base player Amy Trask prevented a Delta Heat run when she stabbed a hard ground ball to her left and made a perfect throw home to cut down a runner trying to score from third.

But in and around all those fine plays, the GB defense committed seven errors -- way too many -- and as a result only two of Delta Heat's five runs were earned.

Settling down

GB committed two errors in the first inning and the Heat took a 1-0 lead. But GB starting pitcher Carling Hare, who was 18 today, then pitched three scoreless innings, striking out three, and reliever Ellie Pamenter pitched a scoreless fifth, so the score was still 1-0 as the game headed into the sixth inning.

But in the top of the sixth inning, three consecutive singles by the Heat and then a dropped fly paved the way three runs and a 4-0 Delta Heat lead.

GB mounted their only real threat of a comeback in the bottom of the sixth. Amy Wells led off the inning with a single to left and Nicole Ratel walked. Carling Hare pushed a sacrifice bunt towards the Heat pitcher, but her throw sailed over the head of first base player Lindsey Kerluke. Amy and Nicole scored and Carling made it all the way around to third.

And Carling scored too, on Ellie Pamenter's sacrifice fly to centre field -- except that the Heat appealed that Carling had left third too early on the tag and the umpires gave them the call, which broke the back of the rally.

The Heat added a final run in the top of the seventh thanks to two more GB errors, and GB went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning.

Lessons learned

Any summing up of the lessons learned on this tour will need to wait until after the final game tomorrow.

GB will have played 10 games in total in Canada -- seven in the tournament and three scrimmage games beforehand -- and apart from the first two scrimmage games when they were clearly in a jet-lagged state, GB has had chances to win every single game, but only one, so far, has ended up in the win column.

Before next summer's European Junior Championships, the players and coaches will need to find a way to put that right.

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