GB Juniors start to iron out the kinks

Sat 9 Jul 2011

by Bob Fromer

Vancouver, Canada: July 9 -- Everyone knows the old cliche about softball being a game of inches (or milliseconds). But sometimes the cliche comes up and smacks you in the face, and that's what happened to the GB Under-19 Women's Fastpitch Team today when they played the first of three scrimmage games before they embark on the real thing at the Canadian Open Fastpitch Tournament starting on Monday.

Today's opponents were a local Junior team, White Rock Renegades 92. They jumped to a 5-0 lead in the first inning off GB starter Carling Hare and a nervous GB team, did nothing off Carling in the second and third but added five more runs in the fourth inning off GB reliever Ellie Pamenter, delivering a sharp reminder to the GB Juniors that if you give an inch at this level, your opponents will take a mile.

Nervous start

With a little more composure, those five White Rock runs in the first inning could have been one or two at most. But one dropped fly ball (inches) a couple of mental errors, a force play at home that was just too late (milliseconds) and four walks undid a GB team that was understandably nervous, playing in the Main Stadium at Softball City where they had watched the Australian senior team play the night before, and probably still struggling with jet lag.

The fact that at the end of three innings each team had two hits but White Rock was leading 5-0 tells its own tale.

After that rocky first inning, Carling Hare settled down and kept the Renegades hitless and scoreless in the second and third innings.

Offensive struggle

But the GB offense was struggling to put anything together against White Rock starter Kate Kumavich, who didn't throw hard, but changed speeds and kept the ball continually on or just off the outside corner. Kumavich struck out five in three innings of work.

A solid single to right field by Carling Hare in the first inning, a single up the middle by Amy Trask to lead off the second and a walk to Amy Trask in the fourth by White Rock relief pitcher Kylie Augustson was the sum total of the GB attack.

Ellie Pamenter came in to pitch the fourth inning for GB and immediately gave up a run on a triple by Peyton Fisher and a double by Lauren Kamachi, both well-hit drives that just evaded GB outfielders (inches again). Three more hits, a hit batter and a double steal (second and home) produced four more runs for the Renegades, and a 10-run lead after four innings in international fastpitch means the game ends on the mercy rule.

A shame, since the GB Juniors need to play all the innings they can before Monday, but rules are rules.

Two more rehearsals

Tomorrow (Saturday), the GB Team will take on another local Vancouver-area team, Richmond Islanders 93, and on Sunday they'll scrimmage against another of the many White Rock Renegade teams, Renegades 94 (the numbers are the birth years of the players).

Then the tournament proper will start on Monday. The GB Juniors will play six games in four days against one American and five Canadian teams, and then see where they stand for the playoffs.

"There were lots of good things to take away from today's game," Head Coach Hayley Scott told the team, and the 10-0 scoreline certainly wasn't an accurate reflection of the disparity in ability between the teams.

But the GB Juniors, like all GB fastpitch teams playing abroad, have only a limited time to put a team together and get it functioning as a unit, in contrast to most of their opponents who train and play together far more frequently.

It's a handicap that all GB teams have to live with, and we'll see over the next week what the GB Junior Women can do to overcome it.

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John Mills 09:15

We learn from this….  Things we can do something about like how we prepare, hustle and support each other.  Things we cannot do anything about like the physical capability of the other team.  We do what we can with what we have.  Can’t ask for more.  Enjoy being the best you can be on the big stage.

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