No-hitter headlines Day 1 of Women's World Cup
Not even the summer Florida thunderstorms could dampen the excitement of an action-packed first day in the opening round of the 2018 WBSC Women's Baseball World Cup, which featured a five-inning no-hitter from Canada's Anne-Sophie Lavallée, a big day for the United States' bats and a dramatic comeback win by South Korea in the night's final game.
With inclement weather leading to delays throughout the afternoon at the USSSA Space Coast Complex in Viera, Fla., the Canada-Hong Kong game was delayed and eventually called official, while a contest between Australia and Cuba was suspended and postponed to 9 a.m. ET on Thursday, with Australia leading, 5-4, in the bottom of the fourth.
But there were plenty of highlights to go around in the five games that did finish. Here's what you should know about Wednesday's action.
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• Live stream the Women's World Cup
Japan 8, Dominican Republic 0
Japan, the five-time defending champion, turned in a dominant opening performance against tournament newcomer Dominican Republic behind a six-run fifth inning and a strong outing from starting pitcher Rina Taniyama, who struck out nine, walked one and allowed three hits in six shutout innings.
Japanese designated hitter Yuka Ogata knocked a third-inning RBI single as part of a 3-for-4, two-steal performance, and Japan blew the game open in the fifth with a pair of bases-loaded walks, a two-run single by infielder Ayaka Deguchi and a two-run triple by center fielder Iori Miura. Dominican catcher Noelia Moreno de los Santos singled in the second for her country's first-ever hit at the Women's Baseball World Cup.
Chinese Taipei 9, Venezuela 1
Chinese Taipei used a six-run third inning to take a commanding early lead over Venezuela in a 9-1 victory that served as a rematch of the last World Cup's bronze medal game, which Venezuela won. The Venezuelans knocked nine hits and were helped by three Chinese Taipei errors, but stranded multiple runners in three of the seven innings.
In its big third inning, Chinese Taipei sent 10 women to the plate, punctuated by a trio of two-run singles from Yu-Ying Hsieh, Chia-Wen Shen and Chi Tseng. Chinese Taipei added three more runs in the fifth in support of starter Chiao-Yun Huang, who allowed nine hits in six innings but limited the damage to one run, a third-inning RBI single by Venezuela catcher Osmari Garcia Zacarias.
Canada 4, Hong Kong 0 (5 inn.)
Despite walking four and throwing only 42 of her 73 pitches for strikes, Lavallée picked up four strikeouts and benefited from a pair of baserunning miscues by Hong Kong as she tossed five hitless innings and saw her no-hitter become official once the umpiring crew made the game official after an hour-long lightning delay.
"I had fun out there today," Lavallée said. "It was exciting getting the start for the first game of the tournament, and to come out with a win like this for our team is a good feeling."
In the second inning, Hong Kong's Janice Lau walked but strayed too far from the bag on a popup to short and was doubled off by Canadian shortstop Veronika Boyd, before another Hong Kong runner was doubled off in the fifth by right fielder Jenna Flannigan. Though Hong Kong put runners on second and third with one out in the fourth, Lavallée picked up a strikeout and a flyout to end the threat.
• Team Canada follows lead of two World Cup veterans
United States 14, Puerto Rico 0 (5 inn.)
The United States plated nine runs before recording an out and sent 15 hitters to the plate in an 11-run first inning that put the game out of reach in a hurry. That was more than plenty for starter Stacy Piagno, who struck out six and allowed only four hits in a five-inning complete-game shutout victory, which was called by run rule after five innings.
Four walks and four hit batters in the first inning were coupled with Malaika Underwood's two-run triple, Megan Baltzell's two-run double and AJ Hamilton's two-run single, and the United States added three more in the second. But it was a scoreless contest for the final three frames, as Puerto Rico reliever Jazzmine Rivera settled in after a rocky second inning and retired seven of her last eight hitters.
South Korea 9, Netherlands 8
The day's final game proved to be its most dramatic, as South Korea plated four runs in the sixth and survived a bases-loaded rally by the Netherlands in the bottom of the seventh to hold on for a come-from-behind, 9-8 victory, despite committing seven team errors.
The Netherlands scored in four of the first five innings, but South Korea kept pace with a three-run third and a two-run fifth to stay within striking distance, despite only having one hit in the first five innings thanks to a wild Dutch pitching staff (nine walks, four wild pitches) and four errors by the Netherlands.
In the sixth, the Koreans loaded the bases with nobody out and scored on a pair of bases-loaded walks before Bitna Lee's game-tying single and Jaeeun An scoring the go-ahead run on a wild pitch. The Netherlands loaded the bases with one out in the seventh, but 17-year-old Rakyung Kim picked up two big strikeouts to complete her 3 2/3-inning outing.