Japan are the victors of the Canadian Open Fastpitch International Championship for the second straight year, after downing the United States in a thrilling finale at Softball City.
Japan led 4-0 after five-and-a-half innings, scoring four runs in the top of the fifth, but Team USA shot back with four runs of their own in the bottom of the sixth. Neither team scored in the suddenly decisive seventh inning, and the game headed to an extra eighth inning (there are only seven innings in softball).
It was there that Japan did their damage, throttling star American hurler Chelsea Thomas with five runs to pull ahead, 9-4. Team USA scored two runs in the bottom of the eighth, but to no avail.
Team Japan: Gold medalists, again. In the 2011 Canadian Open finale, Japan beat Team USA, 7-0, for the Gold medal. Japan also beat Canada in this year’s semifinals, 3-1, to advance to yesterday’s Gold medal game.
Japan’s Misato Kawano (OF) led the way offensively, going 4-for-5 at the plate with three RBIs, while Yamato Fujita pitched a complete game for the Japanese, lasting eight innings and allowing six runs and 10 hits.
For Team USA, Lauren Gibson (2B) went 3-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs. Outfielder Rhea Taylor went 2-for-3 and Samantha Fisher went 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs.
Both teams now head to Whitehorse for the 2012 ISF World Championships, which run from July 13-22. This year will also be the first since 1996 that women’s softball will not be in the Summer Olympics.