Riopel pitches five scoreless for Canucks in opener

Stéphanie Savoie (La Pocatiére, Que.) No. 6 gets high-fives as Canada won its opener in the Pan Am Games 13-1 over Cuba. 

Stéphanie Savoie (La Pocatiére, Que.) No. 6 gets high-fives as Canada won its opener in the Pan Am Games 13-1 over Cuba. 

Canadian women thump Cuba in Pan Am opener

By Adam Morissette
Baseball Canada
AJAX, Ont. - Less than 24 hours after the Canadian Men’s Team made history with a thrilling walk-off win over the United States to capture a Pan American Games gold medal, the Canadian women’s side made a little history of their own playing their first game in a major multi-sport competition and made it count by thumping Cuba 13-1 at President’s Choice Pan Am Ball Park.

Canada held a 2-0 lead before exploding for eight runs in the sixth to break the game wide open to start the five-team tournament on the right track.

Canadian starter Vanessa Riopel (Repentigny, Que.) worked five shutout innings and allowed only two hits and two walks, while she struck out two batters.

“It was an honour that (Manager) Andre (Lachance) asked me to throw the first pitch,” said Riopel of pitching in an historic game for women’s baseball.

“I will be better the next time that I go. I felt that my pulse wasn’t high enough. My team was there and it was a good thing that they helped me because I threw a lot of balls.”

Up by 10, Riopel handed the ball to reliever Heidi Northcott (Rocky Mountain House, Alta.) in the sixth who was on the mound for an unearned run ending any hopes of a shortened game via the mercy rule. Northcott worked two innings and had two strikeouts.

Canada got things going in the third when lead off hitter Nicole Luchanski (Edmonton, Alta.) doubled and Bradi Wall (Swift Current, Sask.) followed with an RBI single to put Canada out to a 1-0 lead.

The Canadians added to their lead in the fourth taking advantage of Cuban throwing error to move in front by two runs.

Lachance wasn’t concerned about the slow start knowing that a patient approach is the recipe for success against Cuba, a team that Canada has had little trouble with in the past.

“There was no panic even though we started a bit shaky,” he said. “I told the girls that Cuba will make mistakes, we’ve seen it before, and there’s always an inning where we’ll score more runs and that happened.”

That inning came in the sixth when Canada struck for eight runs with the big blow coming from Wall when she hit a bases clearing double with the bases loaded to give her four RBIs on the evening.

Canada went on to add three more runs in the seventh and finished the game with 11 hits including two apiece from Stéphanie Savoie (La Pocatiére, Que.), Ashley Stephenson (Mississauga, Ont.) Wall and Luchanski, while Jenna Flannigan (Cornwall, Ont.), daughter of former Brockville Bunnies legend John Flannigan, drove in three runs for good measure.

The Canadian defence did make three errors, but also had help from some tremendous plays in the outfield including a diving grab from left fielder Kelsey Lalor (Red Deer, Alta.) in the first, while Flannigan made a grab on the run to end the third.

UP NEXT: Canada will be back at President’s Choice Ajax Pan Am Ball Park tonight when they take on Venezuela at 7pm ET … RHP Autumn Mills (London, ON) is scheduled to start on the mound for Canada…The only way to follow this game is through Baseball Canada’s Twitter account (@baseballcanada) 

Canada 13, Cuba 1
Team    123 456 7 R H E LOB

Canada   001 108 3  -- 13 11 3 10
Cuba    000 001 0  -- 1  2  4  3

Statistics
Cuba
Name    Position    AB    R    H    RBI    BB    SO    PO    A    E    

BATISTA Dayanna, 2B 2    -    -    -    1    1    1    2    1    
TORRES Mariandy, DH     1    -    -    -    -    -    -    -    -
CABRERA Vania, 1B 1    -    -    -    -    -    1    -    -    
PEGUERO Odrislei.., RF     3    -    -    -    -    1    3    1    -    
RODRIGUEZ Yordanka, C     2    -    -    -    1    -    3    1    -    
BAEZ Yurismary, CF 3    -    1    -    -    -    3    -    1
CASTELLANOS Ana, 1B-P 2    -    -    -    -    -    2    -    1
CASTRO Yoidania    -    -    -    -    -    -    -    -    -
DUARTE Libia, PH     1    -    -    -    -    1    -    -    -
BARBAN Yulisa, LF     1    -    -    -    1    -    3    -    -
MUNOZ Dianelis, PH 1    -    -    -    -    -    -    -    -
SOLANO Mayumis, SS 2    1    -    -    -    -    4    2    -
HERRERA Jessica, 3B 1    -    1    -    -    -    1    1    -
LOPEZ Yadira, 3B 1    -    -    -    -    1    -    1    -    
CRUZ Yanet, P     -    -    -    -    -    -    -    -    1
Totals        21    1    2    -    3    4    21    8    4

Canada    
Name    Position    AB    R    H    RBI    BB    SO    PO    A    E

LUCHANSKI Nicole, 2B 4    2    2    1    -    -    3    -    1
WALL Bradi, SS 5    2    2    4    -    -    -    4    1    
SAVOIE Stéphanie, C    4    2    2    -    1    -    5    2    -    
ASAY Amanda, DH     3    1    1    1    2    -    -    -    -
LALOR Kelsey, LF 3    2    -    1    1    1    1    -    -    
FLANNIGAN Jenna, RF     3    2    1    3    2    -    3    -    -    
GILROY Jennifer, 1B 2    -    -    -    -    -    4    -    -
PSOTA Katherine, PH-1B 1    -    -    1    -    -    -    -    -
STEPHENSON 3B 5    1    2    -    -    -    1    -    -
BOYD Veronika, CF 2    -    -    -    -    1    1    -    -
HARTLEY Rebecca, PH 1    -    1    1    -    -    -    -    -
MILLS Autumn, PR-CF    1                        -    -    1    
RIOPEL Vanessa, P    -    -    -    -    -    -    1    2    -*    
NORTHCOTT Heidi, P     -    -    -    -    -    -    -    -    -
Totals        34    13    11    12    6    2    21    8    3

Pitching Statistics
Cuba 
Name    Position    W/L/S    IP    Hits (H)    R    ER    BB    SO    HR    WP    BK  
 
CRUZ Yanet L(0,1,0)    5.1    5    6    5    3    2    -    -    -    
CASTELLANOS Ana        0.1    3    4    4    2    -    -    -    -    
CASTRO Yoidania        1.1    3    3    1    1    -    -    -    -
Totals            7.0    11    13    10    6    2    -    -    -

Canada
Name    Position    W/L/S    IP    Hits (H)    R    ER    BB    SO    HR    WP    BK  
 
RIOPEL Vanessa    W(1,0,0)    5.0    2    -    -    2    2    -    -    -    
NORTHCOTT Heidi        2.0    -    1    -    1    2    -    -    -
Totals            7.0    2    1    -    3    4    -    -    -