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Updated: February 4, 2018
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Grand Slam/Marco Stoovelaar
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Compiled and Copyright © 1997-2018 by Marco Stoovelaar

(Story by Marco Stoovelaar; Photos by Henk Seppen & Softball Australia)

Japan unbeaten winner of first Asia Pacific Cup

BLACKTOWN, Greater Western Sydney, New South Wales (Australia) - From the first day on, Japan played the best softball and the number two of the world went on to remain unbeaten to win the inaugural edition of the Asia Pacific Cup, which was organized in Blacktown, near Sydney (Australia). On Sunday (February 4), the final day of the 4-day event, Japan shutout Chinese Taipei 4-0 to reach the Final. In the other Play-Off, host Australia won 5-0 against China to become the second finalist. In the all-deciding Final, Japan recorded another shutout, this time winning 3-0 against Australia.

The fourth day began with a 6-0 win of Italy against New Zealand, which therefore finishes in seventh place. Italy advanced to the next game, but lost 3-2 to the All Stars in nine innings to finish in sixth place, while the Australian All Stars ended up in fifth position.

The final day of the event started early for Italy, as its game against New Zealand started at 9 AM! Despite the early wake-up call, Italy played a good game and recorded a convincing 6-0 victory. Italy collected 10 basehits, including three by Marta Gasparotto, who also batted in three runs. Giulia Longhi and Alessandra Rotondo both had two basehits.

Gasparotto, who was the Most Valuable Player of the 2014 European Junior Championship in Rosmalen (Netherlands), and Longhi both can look back to a fine tournament. Longhi was 11-for-24 in the event and had a basehit in seven of the eight games she played. Gasparotto collected seven basehits, including a walk-off homerun. Today, Longhi recorded five basehits, while Gasparotto had three.

...Giulia Longhi (right) had five hits today...
...On the photo, she is with Eva Trevisan during the...
...2014 World Championship in Haarlem (Netherlands)...
(© Photo: Henk Seppen)
Italy scored two runs in the first, second and fourth inning. In the first at bat, Laura Vigna led off with bunt-single and scored on a double by Marta Gasparotto, who then scored herself on a single by Giulia Longhi. In the second inning, Gasparotto added a 2-run double.

Italy made it a 6-0 score in the fourth, thanks to a double by Alessandra Rotondo and a passed ball.

In the next game, Italy took a 2-0 lead in the third inning, but in the end lost 3-2 in nine innings. Italy played another fine game and scored twice in the top of the third inning. With runners on second and third base and two outs, Giulia Longhi delivered a 2-run single. In this game, Longhi was 3-for-4.

The All Stars got one run back in the fourth on a single by Erin Thras, then came alongside in the fifth. With one out, Tabitha Callander tripled and scored on a single by Madeline Cameron.

After leaving a runner behind on second base in the sixth, Italy got close to another run in the seventh. Mariel Bertossi led off with a double, then reached third base on a sacrifice bunt with one out from Laura Vigna, but was left behind.

In the eighth, Italy left its tie-break runner behind on third base, then its defense turned an inning-ending double play in the bottom of the eighth. In the top of the ninth, it were the All Stars that turned a double play, then decided the game moments later. With the bases loaded, a force out at the plate followed, then Jessica Torpey delivered a walk-off single.

In the first Semi-Final, Japan shutout Chinese Taipei, 4-0 on only four basehits. All runs were unearned, as Taipei made three defensive errors. Japan opened the score in the second inning. Lead-off hitter Yamato Fujita reached on an error, then her pinch-runner Kyoko Ishikawa stole second base and scored when next hitter Nozomi Nagasaki homered. Japan added a run in the fourth inning on a single by Yamato Fujita. The fourth run was scored in the fifth on a 2-out double by Natsuko Sugama.

In the second Semi-FInal, Australia held China scoreless and won 5-0. The 'Aussie Spirit' took a quick 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. Leigh Godfrey led off with a single, then a force play-grounder by Stacey McManus ended in an error. Both scored on a double by Stacey Porter, who scored with two outs on a single by Jade Wall. Australia lifted the lead to 5-0 in the second at bat when Porter hit a 2-run homerun.

...Japan remained unbeaten and became the winner of the first...
...edition of the Asia Pacific Cup in Australia...
(© Photo courtesy of Softball Australia)
In the Final, the fourth shutout of the day was recorded, as Japan won 3-0 against Australia. Japan collected eight basehits, while Australia hit only one off of Yamato Fujita, who went the distance.

After stranding a runner on third base in the second inning, Japan scored its first run in the third off of starter Ellen Roberts. With one out, Nodoka Harada singled, moved on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a triple by Natsuko Sugama.

Japan increased its lead to 3-0 in the fourth inning off of new pitcher Tarni Stepto. Yamato Fujita and Nozomi Nagasaki led off with singles. A sacrifice bunt by Mana Atsumi led to runners on second and third base, then a sacrifice fly by Manami Daikuya and a single by Eri Yamada made it a 3-0 score.

In the first four innings, Yamato Fujita faced only the minimum total of hitters. She gave up a lead-off single to Clare Warwick in the third inning, but she was then eliminated in a double play that followed on a line drive by Melinda Weaver. In the fifth, Fujita walked lead-off hitter Taylah Tsitsikronis, who became the lone Australian runner to get into scoring position. She advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Georgia Casey and reached third base on a grounder by Jade Wall, but Fujita then closed with a strikeout. Fujita retired the side again in the next two innings to seal the victory.

(February 4)

Related Articles:
Japan stays unbeaten; 1st win Italy on Day 3 Asia Pacific Cup. (February 3)
Japan adds two wins on Day 2 Asia Pacific Cup. (February 2)
Australia & Japan win 2x on Day 1 Asia Pacific Cup. (February 1)

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Copyright © 1997-2018 Marco Stoovelaar / Grand Slam * Stats & News.