CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR…
In a tournament where there was no clear stand out team; Australia has walked away with its head held high and a respectable 4-2 record.
With wins against Canada, Chinese Taipei, Cuba and Hong Kong - and losses only to eventual Gold and Silver medallists the US and Japan - Australia can consider themselves unlucky not to have come away with a medal.
While the US captured Gold with a 5-1 record (only loss to Canada on Day 1); Japan, Australia and Canada finished equal on 4-2. As head to head games between these 3 teams failed to determine the placings (Japan def Aust, Aust def Canada & Canada def Japan), a ‘for and against method’ in games between these 3 teams was used.
After the dust had settled, Japan was awarded the silver and, although Australia defeated them comfortably in the round robin games 9-4, Canada was given the bronze and Australia relegated to 4th.
Coach Kane Longstaff, although knowing that his teams 2 losses were winnable games, was proud of what his team achieved.
“To come away with a record of 4-2 and a win against one of the medallists and not to have a medal yourself is a bit flattening, but 4-2 is a respectable record in anyone’s language and one of which the girls should be proud,” he said.
“Those that were there in Edmonton two years ago (for the 1st World Cup) can see the improvements we have made as a team and the way in which we conducted ourselves this tournament both on and off the field was second to none.”
On a high note for the Australians, they received 3 selections in the 2006 World Cup ‘All Star’ team. Pitcher Simone Wearne was selected as the starter after her almost perfect display against Chinese Taipei in Game 2 for Australia where she picked up the win in a 5.1 inning, 3 hit demolition of the home town favourites.
Centrefielder Amy McCann received her second selection in an All World Team backing up her selection at the 2004 World Series. Her team leading .500 batting average, (2nd best in the tournament), combined with her errorless performances in the field certainly warranted her selection.
Middle infielder Shae Lillywhite was also selected at 2B. Shae, who also spent 2 games at SS, was solid in the lead off spot for Australia with a .381 avg and made some highlight reel plays in the field at key moments to keep Australia in touch.
Samantha Hamilton received the tournament ‘Stolen Base’ award with her total of 6 across the 6 round robin games. Generally regarded as the best base runner in Australian women’s baseball, Sam showed her skills all week and frustrated opposition pitchers and catchers with her constant perfect reads and advances on the base paths.