The Asia Pacific Cup is underway and Australia and Japan are off to the perfect start with two wins on the opening day.
The world’s second ranked Japan and fourth-ranked Australia will meet in a mouthwatering clash tonight at 8pm on diamond 1.
The Spirit will also face the All Stars in an Aussie face-off at 4pm.
Day one saw fascinating play with Chinese Taipei, All Stars and China each claiming a win and a loss with a great standard of softball played throughout the day.
In the biggest women’s softball event held in Australia since the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Spirit head coach Troy Baverstock said he was happy with the start, with the Spirit scoring 15 runs while not conceding any runs in the opening two games.
“The pitchers did really well – we had two pitchers in the first game and two in the second game – and they kept the opposition bats quiet which was really helpful and allowed us to get our bats going,” he said.
With a young group, including debutant Tamieka Whitefield and young gun Tarni Stepto, Baverstock was impressed by what he saw.
“It was good to see them both out there and getting amongst it,” he said.
“They’re players for the future and are very talented. But we’ve got a really good mix, we’ve got some of the elders, the Stacey Porter’s, who is one of the best players in the world and some younger players like Taylah Tsitsikronis is still a young girl and some of the stuff she’s doing is just unbelievable. I think there is a really good mix of ages there and everyone is doing the job they’ve been asked to do.”
Baverstock said he expects the All Stars to “turn it on” in the All-Aussie fixture ahead of a huge match against “one of the best teams in the world”, the Japanese.
It was a huge day for young Australia Tamieka Whitefield, 18, with the Queensland teenager making her national team debut for the Aussie Spirit.
She said it was an awesome opportunity with a big run into the Olympics, following a busy month of representing Queensland at the open women’s Gilley’s Shield and under-19s Elinor McKenzie Shield competitions.
“It’s great opportunity, especially with all the NPF (National Pro Fastpitch) and Olympics coming up, it’s just a great experience really,” Whitefield said.
“I’m just living the softball life at the moment, I’ve had a month of softball. It’s been very enjoyable and another weekend and then I can get a bit of rest after that.”
Play starts at 11am this morning with China playing the All Stars on diamond 1.
Australian softball legends Natalie Ward and Melanie Roche will also be inducted into the WBSC Hall of Fame at 6.30pm.
Results – Day 1
Japan 3-1 Italy
China 4-1 Chinese Taipei
All Stars 4-0 New Zealand
Japan 10-0 China
Aussie Spirit 7-0 Italy
Chinese Taipei 10-3 All Stars
Aussie Spirit 8-0 New Zealand
Schedule – Day 2
11am – China Vs All Stars @ Diamond 1
1.30pm – New Zealand Vs Chinese Taipei @ Diamond 1
1.30pm – China Vs Italy @ Diamond 2
4pm – Aussie Spirit Vs All Stars @ Diamond 1
4pm – New Zealand Vs Japan @ Diamond 2
6.30pm – Italy Vs Chinese Taipei @ Diamond 2
8pm – Aussie Spirit Vs Japan @ Diamond 1