GB Women lose 3-2 in Canadian Open Final

Mon 9 Jul 2012

by Bob Fromer

Surrey, British Columbia: July 9 -- With third base player Kristi Yoshizawa in bed with flu and shortstop Jess Legendre out of the line-up with a knee injury, the GB Women's Team still came close to winning the Elite Division Final at the Canadian Open Fastpitch Championships yesterday afternoon at Softball City.

GB went down 3-2 to the California A's in a strange game in which all the runs were scored in an error-filled first inning, after which GB pitcher Stacie Townsend and A's pitcher Morgan Melloh pitched six innings of scoreless and relatively stress-free softball.

But that first inning was something else again!

Comedy of errors

The California A's are normally a strong defensive team -- and GB should know, since they have played the A's three times in this tournament and once in a pre-tournament scrimmage game.  But the top of the first inning turned into a comedy of errors for the A's, as they gave GB two runs on one continuous play and committed three errors in the process.

Laura Thompson led off for GB in the top of the first inning and was hit by a pitch.  The next batter, Amy Moore, hit a high chop back to pitcher Morgan Melloh, who threw wildly past first base.  As the ball caromed off the 

fence behind first base and down the right field line, both GB runners started touring the bases, and the California defense panicked.  Right fielder Jena Rubio's throw to third skipped past the defender as Laura Thompson scored, and then shortstop Courtney Gano, backing up the play, made a desperate throw home that eluded the catcher and hit the umpire as Amy Moore crossed the plate.

Suddenly, GB had a 2-0 lead in the most shocking fashion.

Giving it back

GB then gave the lead right back to A's in the bottom of the first inning with two errors of their own.  But a plea of mitigation could be entered for the GB errors, since both were committed by Amy Moore, filling in for the flu-ridden Kristi Yoshizawa at third base, a position Amy had never played before.

And as these things go, the very first California batter, Ashley Carter, stroked a hard chance down the third base line that Amy couldn't come up with cleanly, and the third hitter, Melissa Davin, did the same.  Combined with a triple by Mandy Ogle, a sacrifice bunt by Courtney Gano and a single by Kylee Lahmers, the result was three runs and a 3-2 lead for California after one inning of play.

Pitchers take over

Six innings later, at the end of the game, 3-2 was still the score.  Stacie Townsend gave up only two singles the rest of the way, with no walks allowed and seven strikeouts.

But Morgan Melloh was even better, giving up just one GB hit -- a double by catcher Leah English in the fifth inning -- with no walks and 11 strikeouts.  The only glimmer of hope for the GB offense was that Melloh's defense committed two more errors behind her, but neither runner got farther than first base.

On to Whitehorse

With a successful Canadian Open now behind them, and with 14 games played in 11 days by way of preparation, the GB team will have a day off today and then head for the 13th Women's World Championships, to be played in Whitehorse, in the Canadian Yukon Territory, on Tuesday.  The locals here in the Vancouver area tell lurid tales of mosquitoes and giant horseflies up in the Yukon, more than 1000 miles to the north of here, not to mention sky-high prices for everything, as might be expected in a town in the middle of nowhere.

The GB Team will be staying in a hotel called the Gold Rush Inn, though any gold that once existed in the Yukon was mostly mined out during the three frenzied years of the Klondike Gold Rush, from 1897-1899, during which the native Han people were mostly killed or confined to reservations.

GB players are unlikely to suffer the same fate, but they will face by far the stronger of the two round-robin groups at the World Championships, in which they will need to find four victories from games against Japan, Canada, Australia, Chinese Taipei, Italy, Mexico and New Zealand to reach their goal of making the playoffs and becoming one of the world's top eight teams.

Reports from all GB games at the World Championships will be posted on the Home Page on this website, and reports from all previous games at the Canadian Open can be found either on the Home Page or by clicking on "News" in the top menu.

In addition, all games from the World Championships will be webstreamed.  For more information on timings and links, click here.

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