By: Adam Morissette
Canadian Baseball Network
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic- From start to finish at he inaugural U20 Women’s International Cup, Canada dominated the competition scoring 54 runs while only surrendering 10 in running the table and capturing gold by defeating the host Dominican Republic 13-3 Sunday afternoon at Estadio Quisqueya Juan Marichal.
Starting pitcher Heather Healey allowed a pair of runs in her third and final inning of work, allowing just two hits and striking out five. Her velocity was as hard as any pitcher in the tournament, and she was an intimidating force on the mound. Claire Eccles took over and showed she meant business with a 1-2-3 fourth inning, and it inspired the bats to finally get cooking in the bottom half to the runaway victory. Eccles held the hosts to just one hit and an unearned run while striking out three. Her left-handedness is a big plus, while her maturity and ability to mix pitches keeps opponents off balance.
Canada took the early lead in the bottom of the first when leadoff hitter Mia Valcke reached as the Dominican second baseman hurried her throw on a ground ball up the middle. Valcke promptly stole second, and RBI-machine Daphnée Gélinas lined a single to right, her first of four hits and first of five runs batted in on the day.
Eccles, who began the game playing left field, hit a grounder through the infield to lead off the second stanza, advanced on an error by the pitcher, and came home on Marie-France Castillo’s opposite field single.
Eccles started the engine in the home half of the fourth as well, lining a base hit to right field, and scoring on Tess Forman’s double over the centre fielder’s head. Castillo and Valcke drew walks, and Emma Carr smacked a deep sacrifice fly to right to score Forman. Gélinas, who was all over the ball this week like suntan lotion on tourists in Boca Chica, yanked a two-run single to right field, increasing Canada’s lead to 6-2.
In the fifth, the hungry Canadians posted another four on the scoreboard, all with two outs. Healey ripped a single to left field, stole second, Valcke walked, Carr’s liner up the middle loaded the bases, and Gélinas’ knock to right plated Healey and Valcke. Jalbert singled home Carr, and Gélinas scored on Denis’ shot to the left side that the shortstop couldn’t handle. That frame put the Canucks ahead 10-2.
After the Dominicans replied with one in the top of the sixth courtesy of an error, a passed ball, and a pair of ground outs, Healey roped a one-out double to deep centre field, and scored on Valcke’s single to right. Carr and Jalbert each were plunked to load the bases with two out, leading to the Dominican’s sixth pitching change of the game, but Denis ended it with a two-run single down the left field line. International baseball rules employ a ten run mercy rule after five innings of play, thus Team Canada were champs with the scoreboard showing 13-3.
The defensive plays of the day were Castillo’s throwing out a stealing base runner to thwart a first inning threat, and Healey, after walking the first two batters in the top of the second, stabbing a sharp line drive and firing it to the shortstop Gélinas before the runner at second had a chance to tag up.
“I can’t say it enough how proud I am of these girls in the way that they played and represented Canada and our Women’s National Team program since we’ve been here,” said Manager André Lachance. “We cam together quickly as a team and handled some of the challenges, both on and off the field, with ease. For a group of young players that’s not easy to do.
“This experience is great for these girls and will be nothing but positive as they move forward in their careers which hopefully includes participating with our Women’s National Team in the future.”
The Women’s National Team will be participating at the seventh WBSC Women’s Baseball World Cup in Gijang City, Korea from September 3-11. Player selection will take place at the Senior Women Invitational in Red Deer, Alberta from August 25-29.