Summer Sports

Matthews shines as Canada routes New Zealand at world softball

The Canadian Press
7/17/2012 9:14:50 PM
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WHITEHORSE -- Melanie Matthews hit a home run and had four RBIs as Canada pounded New Zealand 12-1 in five innings at the ISF Women's World Championships on Tuesday.

The victory improved Canada's record to 4-1, its lone defeat coming in a 6-2 loss to Japan on Sunday night.

Jocelyn Cater of Delta, B.C., pitched all five innings while striking out nine. She gave up four hits and one run while walking four.

Matthews, Canada's veteran left fielder and lead-off hitter, started the game with a home run to right field, her third of the tournament.

Canada would add two more in the second, including an RBI single from Mississauga, Ont., native Natalie Wideman, who got the start at catcher.

After jumping out to a 7-0 lead against New Zealand in three innings, Canada added five more runs in the top of the fifth when Calgary's Sheena Lawrick hit a two-run homer to complete the rout.

Te Reo Powhiri Matautia singled to bring in New Zealand's lone run in the fifth.

Wideman made the most of her opportunity going 2-3 at the plate and driving in two runs.

"It was nice being behind the plate again," said the 20 year-old who also serves as a utility infielder. "I'm used to playing back there so it was good to be in my home again."

Canada will be tested by one of the top teams in the tournament when they face Australia on Wednesday night.

The Canadians will receive a boost for that game from the arrival of Danielle Lawrie, a star pitcher who up until this point has been playing with her Florida-based professional team.

"We've got Danielle coming into town and our pitching staff has been doing a good job of keeping runs off the board. Anyone could take the mound right now," said Caitlin Lever, who finished with three RBIs on Tuesday.

Lawrie, whose younger brother is Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie, was named the U.S.A Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year in 2009 after leading the University of Washington to their first national championship.

She received the honour again in 2010.

Currently she's one of the top pitchers in the National Pro Fastpitch league, anchoring the starting rotation for the USSSA Florida Pride.

With Wideman behind the plate, veteran catcher Kaleigh Rafter was moved to designated hitter on Tuesday.

Rafter, from Guelph, Ont., is known for her vocal leadership on the field, pushing the younger players to perform at their best.

Wideman brings a different presence to the field, using her energy and enthusiasm to keep the team motivated.

"We're both very different catchers," said Wideman. "Her size helps her out with being that dominant catcher and I just have to work with my strengths but she's definitely taught me a lot."

Canada's head coach Mark Smith was disappointed with the amount of runners left on base in his team's 8-1 win over Great Britain on Monday night.

In their match-up against New Zealand, he thought the team was able to correct those mistakes.

"These are tough games to play," he said. "When they get one-sided it becomes difficult for either team to stay motivated but I thought our at-bats were good and we made the adjustments we needed to make.

"In this tournament you see a different style of pitching everyday so you have to be quick in adjusting to it and I thought today we did a really good job of that."

The Aussies defeated Canada 7-0 two weeks ago in the bronze medal match at the Canadian Open Fastpitch International in Surrey, B.C.

Smith said there's no lingering memories from that loss.

"We've got to play well against them and be prepared for them to come out and play their best game of the ball tournament against us. We've done what we needed to get to this point so now we just need to get our sights set on tomorrow."

"We know it's a big game and we have to focus on getting the win," added Wideman. "We beat them once in Surrey and we lost to them but we learnt from that game. We know we're able to beat them. We're ready for it."

Baseball (Photo: The Canadian Press)


(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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