Japan have defeated Australia in the final of the inaugural Softball Asia Pacific Cup at Blacktown International Sportspark this afternoon.
The Aussie Spirit put up a strong fight but could not deny Japan, who ran away 3-0 winners.
It was the bottom of the fourth inning that Japan gained the ascendancy. Leading 1-0, two runs to Yamato Fujita and Nozomi Nagasaki pushed the lead out to what was the winning lead.
Despite getting Taylah Tsitikronis on base in the fifth, the Spirit were unable to get the required runs.
Throughout the tournament, Japan remained undefeated, conceding just two runs. Australia lost just two matches, both to Japan. Earlier in the day, Australia defeated China 5-0 in the semi-final, to seal a place in the final.
Aussie Spirit captain Stacey Porter said it was an aim to make the final at the beginning of the week.
“We always hoped that we’d be in this final game – that was our goal at the start of the week so it was nice to get her but I definitely think there is room for improvement,” she said.
“Our team for World’s is announced soon so I guess we’ll have to go back to the drawing board a bit and we need to get to that level. We’re not there yet but we’ve got a few months to get there.”
Porter also played in her 400th match in the Asia Pacific Cup final against Japan, becoming just the second player to reach the mark behind all-time record holder and four-time Olympic medallist Natalie Ward on 429 games.
Porter said it was “awesome” to play that many games for Australia.
“You don’t set out to play 400 games for your country but it’s happened. It’s just super nice that it happened on my home field in NSW, that was extra special,” she said.
“I’ve grown up as a kid playing in Tamworth and I grew up playing up there in the country. I worked at Softball NSW at this venue for a while and we’ve had a lot of Softball played at this diamond so it’s pretty nice.”
The Asia Pacific Cup has been the biggest international women’s Softball event to be held in Australia since the 2000 Olympic Games.
It featured six of the top 12 teams in the world with Japan (world number 2), Australia (world number 4), Chinese Taipei (world number 5), Italy (world number 9), New Zealand (world number 11) and China (world number 12) as well as a second Australian team called the All Stars.
Pitcher of the tournament – Yukari Hamamura (Japan)
Batter of the tournament – Feng-Chen Lin (Chinese Taipei)
Player of the final – Yamato Fujita (Japan)
Most Valuable Player of the tournament – Natsuko Sugama (Japan)