Aussies edge Canucks for women's bronze

* Canada fell short of a medal at the world women's championship, losing the bronze medal match 3-2 to Australia. ....   2014 Canadians in the Minors … Canadians in College 2015 Canadian draft list Letters of Intent


Brudnicki on the road: Aussies win bronze preview .... 8-7 loss to USA in rain Savoie walk-off beats Taipei …. WNT no-hits Netherlands in opener …. World Cup on deck …. Riopel embraces pressure …. Hits aplenty in final tune-up …. Gilroy eyeing Pan Ams too …. Ace Mills solid in tune-up …. Hannah impresses …. Wall walk off …. Meet the rookies …. Robbie Alomar …. Shawn Green.

By Alexis Brudnicki

MIYAZAKI, Japan - For just the second time over six World Cup competitions, the Canadian Women’s National Team is returning home without a medal, after being walked off by Australia 3-2 in the seventh inning of the bronze-medal matchup on Sunday.

Playing against the Aussies for the second game in a row, losing twice to them in the tournament, Team Canada suffered an especially tough loss in the final, essentially beating themselves. Routine plays weren’t executed and mental errors were made, making the defeat even harder to take.

“We need to learn to make the fundamental plays on defence,” manager Andre Lachance said. “It’s crucial if we want to win a World Cup. I think we also learned that it is important to play more games leading up to the World Cup at a higher level if we want to compete at that level. Those are probably the things we need to take home from this experience.”

Heading into this year’s IBAF Women’s Baseball World Cup in Miyazaki, the Canadian squad played four exhibition games in Japan against three high school teams and a university all-star lineup, following the national tournament in Surrey, BC.

Even if they weren’t quite enough, the exhibition games were key in assisting the players to get ready in terms of getting acclimated after crossing the International Date Line and moving into a very different climate, and they also helped shake out some of the nerves for the newcomers to the team, which the national squad can build off of moving forward, adding to what they already have.

“We have some young players who had their first World Cup experience here and they did very well for their first time,” Lachance said. “We still have a core group of athletes who are very solid, starting with Steph [Savoie] and then our two middle infielders [Nicole Luchanski and Bradi Wall], then Ash [Stephenson] at third base and Kate [Psota] at first, so that’s not an issue.

“We’ll build around those players, the core players, for next year and make sure we surround them with players who are committed to helping our team win.”

The Canadian women got out to an early lead in the matchup against Australia thanks to a one-out single from Wall (Swift Current, SK) to start things off, followed by a costly error from the home team. Psota (Burlington, Ont.) brought in the first run on a sacrifice fly and Meagan Cornelssen (Grand Prairie, Alta.) immediately drove in the second with a single.

Team Australia came back for one in the second but that was all they would get until the bottom of the fifth inning, after both teams had to pack up and change venues in the third frame because of rain at Sun Marine Stadium. The Emeralds added one run in the bottom of the fifth before walking Canada off in the final frame on a none-out, bases-loaded walk.

Autumn Mills (London, Ont.) got the start for the Canadians and threw six solid innings, allowing three runs -- two earned -- on seven hits with four walks, one hit batter and one wild pitch.

“She couldn’t have done anything else,” Lachance said. “She did everything she had to do on the mound. There were a couple plays that we had to make and we didn’t execute that cost us two runs, and that’s the story of the ballgame. If we made those plays, we would have won.”

Beyond World Cup competition, the women’s national team is preparing for its first berth in the Pan American Games next summer and will take everything they learned and gained from the tournament in Miyazaki and use it to prepare for the Games, taking place at home in the Greater Toronto Area.

“We have eight months to prepare with five of them in the snow,” Lachance said. “That’s the reality of our country. We talked to the players earlier and told them they have eight months to show that they are committed to go out, work out, go to the gym more than three times a week, and they have to be ready.

“It’s the Pan Am Games and it’s going to be the biggest stage for women’s baseball. It’s probably bigger than the World Cup even though not all of the teams will be there. It’s a huge event, the second-biggest multi-sport event in the world. So we’ve got to show up and be ready and they have to be ready early because we have a selection camp in May and that’s going to be challenging for them.”

Team Canada has three bronze-medal finishes in World Cup competition, the most recent in the 2012 tournament in Edmonton, and one silver medal. The next World Cup will take place in South Korea in 2016 with Japan looking to defend four consecutive championships. Team USA had a silver-medal finish in Miyazaki.