In a crushing blow for the Aussie Spirit, their Olympic dream is over, a 4-1 loss to Mexico ending their chance at a bronze medal. For all your Tokyo 2020 coverage, stay tuned to The Inner Sanctum’s Olympic hub and the Olympics Central.
Both Mexico and Australia were tied with a 1-3 record heading into the final round-robin game of the tournament at Tokyo 2020. Leading into the game, the Aussie Spirit were in the all-important fourth spot however with a 4-1 loss, Mexico overtook its opponents to set up a chance to medal against Canada.
Mexico’s runs came from two innings, the second and fourth in which the side scored two runs in each frame. Australia was given a breath of hope late as Jade Wall sent the ball over the fence for a home run in the bottom of the sixth inning however nothing else eventuated from there.
It spells an Olympic campaign that is over for the Aussie Spirit, unable to add to their trend of medalling in each of the previous four times softball has appeared at the Olympic Games. With the sport out of the program for Paris 2024, the Aussie Spirit will have plenty of time to reflect on the result and come back stronger.
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Top 1st Inning – Mexico 0 – 0 Australia
Mexico was first up to bat, Australia’s Kaia Parnaby getting lead-off hitter Sydney Romero to pop the ball up to second base before Paranby got Nicole Rangel and Anissa Urtez to each strike out swinging.
Leigh Godfrey lead things off for the Aussie Spirit in the bottom of the first who struck out swinging. Stacey Porter was the next batter up to the plate, hitting a ground-rule double that bounced over the fence in centrefield.
Taylah Tsitsikronis was hit by a Dallas Escobedo pitch see the Spirit with runners on first and second. The runners advanced on a deep Chelsea Forkin flyout into leftfield, Porter sliding safely into third however she wouldn’t score as Jade Wall grounded out to end the innings.
Top 2nd Inning – Mexico 0 – Australia 0
Brittany Cervantes had a lead-off single into leftfield to begin the second innings. With a linedrive up the third base line that ricocheted off the corner in leftfield from Suzannah Brookshire, it allowed Brittany Cervantes to score from first for the game’s first run.
Brookshire stood up at third base on her hit with none out and Mexico had its second run after an RBI single from Victoria Vidales that made its way into rightfield. Parnaby earned her first strikeout of the night when she got Chelsea Gonzales with a swinging strikeout.
A bunt laid down by Sashel Palacios was picked up by Australia’s catcher Belinda White who, on a fielder’s choice, threw to second base to force the leading runner Vidales out. Amanda Sanchez flew out to centrefield for the final out of Mexico’s second innings.
Michelle Cox lead-off for the Spirit though grounded out to second base before White became a baserunner with a single that cleared the infield, into right field. Leah Parry struck out swinging and Clare Warwick went down looking for the final two outs.
Top 3rd Inning – Mexico 2 – 0 Australia
Back up at the top of its order, Mexico went three-up, three-down for its third turn at the plate.
For Australia, Godfrey got on base with a lead-off single to leftfield and stayed there as Porter popped out to third base. Tsitsikronis was walked by Escobedo which saw Godfrey enter into a scoring position.
Godfrey advanced to third base on a flyout from Forkin but was stuck there as Wall flew out to left field for the third out.
Top 4th Inning – Mexico 2 – Australia 0
A popped up ball into shallow right field that fell safely between Parry and Forkin saw Cervantes reach first to be a leading baserunner for Mexico. After Parnaby got the strikeout of Brookshire, Vidales sent a shot to the centrefield wall, sending Cervantes home for Mexico’s third run of the game.
Vidales stood at second base on the hit, prompting Aussie Spirit coach Laing Harrow to make a pitching change, bringing Gabrielle Plain in for Parnaby. Vidales made her way to third on a wild pitch from Plain and scored when Gonzales cleared the right side of the infield for an RBI single.
Next up for Mexico, Sashel Palacios singled into leftfield before a diving stop from Parry for the Spirit saved the ball going into the outfield but still gave Sanchez an infield single, loading the bases. Romero popped up to third base for the second out of Mexico’s fourth innings.
At the top of the fourth with two outs, Harrow decided to take Plain out of the game and enter Ellen Roberts to finish the inning. A first-pitch groundout saw Australia avoid any further damage, taking a 4-0 deficit into the bottom of the fourth inning.
Cox as the lead-off, trying to bunt, popped up to third base and Australia was down two after White struck out looking. Harrow brought in Stacey McManus to pinch-hit for Parry but it was back-to-back strikeouts for Escobedo to end the fourth frame.
Top of 5th Inning – Mexico 4 – 0 Australia
Roberts remained on the mound for the Aussie Spirit but Urtez got onto the pitch for a lead-off single. Urtez was forced out at second on a fielder’s choice from Porter though the Spirit couldn’t turn the double play, meaning Tatyana Forbes held up at first.
Forbes was called out for leaving the base early to become Mexico’s second out and Australia got out of the innings with a Brookshire groundout.
Warwick hit an infield single to lead-off Australia’s fifth dig but Mexico quickly claimed three outs soon after via a tagout on Godfrey and two flyouts from Porter and Tsitsikronis.
Top of 6th Inning – Mexico 4 – 0 Australia
Australia got each of the first two Mexican hitters to groundout to shortstop as Palacios flew out to the same position for the final out of the top half of the sixth inning.
The Spirit opted for pinch-hitter Rachel Lack to lead their sixth dig though after a quality at-bat, she grounded out on a hit back to Escobedo.
Jade Wall hit a long bomb that cleared the centrefield fence to bring in Australia’s first run of the game, hoping it would be the catalyst for a late flurry of runs.
Cox and White grounded out and lined out in the following two at-bats for the Spirit to end the sixth innings.
Top of 7th Inning – Mexico 4 – 1 Australia
Mexico’s first two batters grounded out and popped out respectively although a two-out infield single back to Roberts from Rangel ensured Mexico’s inning continued.
Urtez pushed Rangel into a scoring position when she singled into centrefield however Forbes grounded out to third base, sending Australia into bat to stay alive in the game.
McManus was the leading batter for the Aussie Spirit although she grounded out to second base to be the first out. Warwick flew out to rightfield to become Australia’s second out, bringing Godfrey up to keep her team’s hopes alive but it wasn’t to be as she flew out to leftfield.
Mexico’s starting pitcher, Escobedo pitched a complete game of seven innings to be credited with the win. The 29-year-old gave up five hits for one run with five strikeouts.
For Mexico’s batters, Urtez, Cervantes and Vidales each had two hits with Cervantes, Forbes, Brookshire and Vidales each scoring a run for their team.
Kaia Parnaby started on the mound for Australia and lasted 3.1 innings to be credited with the loss after giving up four runs from five hits with four strikeouts. Plain come on in relief though only made it through 0.1 innings after giving up three hits and Roberts finished the game for the Spirit, pitching 3.1 innings for three hits.
Australia’s batting was lead by hits to Godfrey, Porter, Wall, White and Warwick with Wall being the lone runscorer for the side with her solo homerun in the sixth inning.
The Aussie Spirit finishes their Tokyo 2020 campaign with a fifth-placed finish in the six-team competition with a 1-4 record whereas Mexico prepares for a bronze medal game against Canada. The gold medal game will be contested between Japan and the USA.
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