* RP Hannah Martensen (Ottawa, Ont.) pitched a pair of 1-2-3 innings as the Canadian Women's National Team fell 4-3 to a Japanese University All-Stars in a warm up to next week's World Cup. (Photo: Alexis Brudnicki). .... 2014 Canadians in the Minors … Canadians drafted … Canadians in College 2015 Canadian draft list Letters of Intent
By Alexis Brudnicki
KAZO CITY, Japan - Hannah Martensen was flat-out dominant in her first appearance in Japan on Monday during the Canadian Women’s National Team exhibition series on the road to the IBAF Women’s Baseball World Cup in Miyazaki from Sept. 1-7.
The right-hander hailing from Ottawa, came on in relief for the final two innings of Team Canada’s 4-3 loss to the Japan University All-Stars and needed just 16 pitches to mow through six batters, retiring the side in order in the fifth and sixth frames, not allowing a single runner and notching one strikeout.
“Hannah was a star today,” manager Andre Lachance said. “She was a bit of a disappointment at nationals but today she had 16 pitches in two innings, she kept the ball low, and she threw her curveball for strikes - that’s the Hannah that we had two years ago [at the last World Cup in Edmonton]. If she keeps doing that, she’s going to be successful for sure.”
Pitching in the final matchup of the Senior Women’s Invitational Championships earlier this month in Surrey, BC, Martensen got the ball in the gold-medal game for Ontario against Team Alberta. Things didn’t go as she hoped, but she is right where she wants to be before the tournament in Miyazaki.
“I pitched in the final and we lost, so it definitely wasn’t my best [outing],” the 21-year-old said. “Even I knew I could do better than that, so that was a little disheartening, but today was kind of a pick-me-up. That was just an off day I guess you could say. Some days you’re not feeling it, whereas today I was definitely feeling [good].”
The upcoming competition will be the second World Cup tournament for Martensen, who feels she has grown since she first started with the national squad in 2011.
“I’m definitely more comfortable with the team,” she said. “You lose those nervous butterflies from the start which kind of helps sometimes and gives you a little bit of an extra edge, so I kind of felt that a little bit more today.”
Martensen had everything in her arsenal working on Monday, keeping the game tight after the Japanese All-Stars got out to an early lead in the bottom of the first inning and then added to that total with a three-run fourth inning.
“I’m really good at staying in control and staying calm, so that definitely works to my benefit,” the righty said. “Even at nationals I didn’t pitch my best but when they were scoring runs and everything, I didn’t let it get to me. I’m good at staying calm and I can hit my spots, so between those two things, that’s my [strength].
“It was definitely a good way to start and I’m looking forward to facing bigger, better [opponents].”
Bradi Wall (Swift Current, Sask.) led the Team Canada offence for a second straight game. After walking the team off on Sunday in the squad’s first exhibition matchup, the 22-year-old shortstop hit a two-run single in the fifth to cut the deficit to one. Wall hit cleanup for the visitors, and with the World Cup lineup still to be determined she impressed again out of the new spot in the order.
“We’re still trying different things,” Lachance said. “We hope by the time we get to the first game of the World Cup we’ll have things figured out, but with Bradi, you know she’s going to hit the ball wherever she is in the lineup. We’re not worried about her.”
Niki Boyd (Whalley, BC) cashed the other run for the Canadians with her first hit of the exhibition series, a single in the second frame. Right fielder Autumn Mills (London, Ont.) went 2-for-3 in her first game of the pre-World Cup tournament.
Melissa Armstrong (Saskatoon, Sask.) got the start for Team Canada and went two innings, giving up one run on three hits with no walks and two strikeouts. Cindy Saavedra (Toronto, Ont.) took the loss for Team Canada with two innings pitched, allowing three runs (none earned) on four hits with two walks and a strikeout. The 24-year-old righty also committed two fielding errors, one costing two bases.
“That’s why we play those games,” Lachance said. “The main thing that we need to work on is our pitch selection. We’ve got to go deeper in the count. In the fifth inning, we only had one girl who went up to three balls in the count. We need to make things happen by hitting the ball hard on the ground and hitting line drives.
“That’s what happened when we scored a couple runs - we hit ground balls and line drives and created some opportunities.So we need to work on that and we’ll be successful. That’s what made us successful in Edmonton in 2012.”
At the most recent World Cup event in Edmonton, the Canadian women earned a bronze medal, adding to two other bronze medals and a silver in previous World Cup competition.
Next up for the Women’s National Team is the third of four exhibition games in Japan as they take on Saitawa Sakae with the first pitch slated for 11:30PM EST. Mills gets the start for Team Canada and will be followed on the hill by rookies Heather Healey (Paradise, Nfld.) and southpaw Claire Eccles (Surrey, BC), both making their debuts for the national squad.
-- Follow Alexis Brudnicki on Twitter @baseballexis