Lima, Peru – The Canadian Women’s National Softball Team will play for their second straight Pan American Games Gold medal after topping the United States 3-2 in a tense semi-final match between the two teams on Friday afternoon.
The Americans were limited to two runs on three hits thanks to a combined pitching effort from Sara Groenewegen (Surrey, B.C.), Jenna Caira (Toronto, Ont.) and Danielle Lawrie (Langley, B.C.). Groenewegen got the start in the circle for Canada and went three innings while allowing a run on one hit, one walk and striking out three. Caira was next up, taking over to start the fourth and her one walk allowed was the only baserunner in her two innings of work to go along with three strikeouts to pick up the eventual win. Lawrie also racked up three strikeouts in her two innings after coming in to start the sixth. Lawrie allowed a run on two hits but was able to register the save for Canada.
The United States got on the board first with a solo home run from Haylie McCleney to lead off the bottom of the first inning. Canada was quick to respond, tying the game at 1-1 in the top of the second. Erika Polidori (Brantford, Ont.) started off the inning by getting on base thanks to a hit by pitch and was sent home thanks to consecutive singles by Kaleigh Rafter (Guelph, Ont.) and Janet Leung (Mississauga, Ont.).
Team Canada took the opportunity to add to their lead in the fourth. Joey Lye (Toronto, Ont.) and Victoria Hayward (Toronto, Ont.) earned their way aboard with back-to-back singles and Lye came home on a high chopper to shortstop by Emma Entzminger (Victoria, B.C.) who crossed first safely, and Hayward later scored on a single by Jennifer Salling (Port Coquitlam, B.C.) as Canada took the 3-1 lead.
That last run proved to be the difference, as the Americans got a run in the sixth to pull within one with another solo homer from McCleney, her second of the contest. That was the closest the Americans would come, with Lawrie working around a leadoff double by Delaney Spaulding in the bottom of the seventh and leaving her stranded at third to secure the victory for Canada.
Box Score: Canada 3 vs. United States 2
With their spot in the Gold medal game locked up, Canada will await to see who their opponent will be between Puerto Rico and the United States. Puerto Rico defeated Mexico 3-2 with a walk-off homerun in the bottom of the eighth inning to earn their spot in the Bronze medal game. The winner of the 10:00am (11:00am EDT) game between the United States and Puerto Rico will meet Canada in the Gold medal game at 2:00pm local time (3:00pm EDT) on Saturday afternoon.
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