THUNDER BAY – SPORT – In front of more than a thousand fans at Thunder Bay’s Baseball Central ballpark, Canadian starting pitcher Alli Schroder (Fruitvale, BC) did the Team Canada batters a favor by trailing Team USA 1-2-3 for the fifth and final game of the year 2022 Friendship series that hits two and evokes a pop-up against Ellie Jesperson (Spruce Grove, AB). Although it doesn’t sound unusual, it was the first time that the Canada women’s national team prevented the Americans from scoring in the first inning, as they had netted nine runs in the first innings of the previous four games.
BOX RESULT Canada 8, USA 4
In the queue, Schroders inspired teammates exploded for an eight-run, eight-hit, taillighting first, Game 1-winning pitcher Kelsie Whitmore, who previously pitched five scoreless innings against the Canucks to open the series. Schroder returned that volley by throwing five scoreless innings, limiting USA to just three singles while throwing out five on just 63 pitches. Team USA held off in sixth place, four spots ahead of Schroder as they needed another 30 pitches to finish that inning. But Tess Sawkins (Victoria, BC) kept the Americans off the board in the seventh and final inning with a flyout to midfielder Emma Carr and two more flyouts to left fielder Mia Valcke.
“I told the team they had better look inside themselves and find a way to win today and that was all,” manager Ashley Stephenson said after playing three of the first four games of the series played at Thunder , Bays Baseball had lost Central Ballpark.
The 15-year-old national team veteran’s squad actually followed these instructions. After leadoff hitter Ellie Jesperson flew out to start the bottom half of the first inning, Valcke lined a single to left field to start the unexpected spate of runs. Daphnée Gélinas (Repentigny, QC) stroked a single to right field and Alizée Gélinas (Trois Rivieres, QC) received a base on balls to load bases. Hot-tempered Maddie Willan (Edmonton, AB), who came in six-for-eight with a .750 batting average, ripped a run-scoring single into midfield with Reese Velocci (Toronto, ON) and Stacy Fournier (Surrey, BC) pulling after and gives Canada a 3-0 lead. After the second out of the inning, Sena Catterall (Pierefonds, QC) hit a two-run single with bases still loaded and handed the lineup back to Jespersen, who ran Fournier in with a base hit. Valcke hammered a line drive to the midfielder’s head in the warning lane to bring Caterall and Jespersen home, giving the Canadians an eight-run lead.
After a total of 14 defensive errors in the first four games, Canada’s defense shone that day and played to their potential, to say the least. Game of the day went to Jespersen in the top of the second inning as the USA threatened an out and runners on first and second base. Her lead batsman, Ashton Lansdell, scorched a line drive that seemed destined for midfield, but the shortstop leapt to the left and barely caught the howitzer, then forwarded her throw to first before the runner was able to to meet, which ended the uprising.
“I was really happy with the series,” said manager Ashley Stephenson. “We had a difficult start but we knew our group is young and we have to build up. Today was something of a highlight of our five days, we started with a bang but for me the biggest thing was our pitching performance.
“It’s always such a big rivalry against USA, we know they’re a good team and it would be a big test for us, so we’re really happy with our overall performance.”
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