A pair of heartbreaking one-run losses at the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics has put the gold medal out of reach for Canada’s women’s softball team, but the squad – which has plenty of Surrey and White Rock connections – still has a shot at the podium tonight.
At 9 p.m. tonight (Pacific time), Canada will hit the field against Mexico in the bronze-medal game. The two teams have already faced each other once, with Canada winning 4-0 to open the tournament.
Team Canada – which features former White Rock Renegades Sara Groenewegen, Danielle Lawrie, Larissa Franklin and Lauren Regula, as well as Delta’s Kelsey Harshman – was ousted from gold-medal contention after back-to-back losses to the world’s top two teams: a 1-0 loss to the United States, and a 1-0 extra-inning loss to Japan on the weekend.
After round-robin action, the top two teams – which ended up being the undefeated Americans and Japan – play for gold, while the third and fourth teams play for bronze.
Canada secured its third-place finish with a decisive 8-1 win over Italy Sunday; the Canadians finished with a won-loss record of 3-2.
Against Japan, Groenewegen started the game in the pitchers’ circle, striking out two and allowing just three hits over three innings of work, before she was relieved by Lawrie, who pitched the next three innings, and Jenna Caira, who pitched the final frame.
After the game, Groenewegen, like many of her teammates, was in tears as she attempted to conduct interviews in the mixed zone.
“Sorry, I’m crying,” she said. “This is a phenomenal group of women.”
Japan scored the game’s only run in the bottom of the eighth inning.
“We knew that it was going to be a one-run game, and we knew that it might come down to late innings,” Canadian head coach Mark Smith said. “We had a couple of opportunities to push runs across ourselves and couldn’t get it done. They finally made good on one.”
Now, the Canadians will dust themselves off and play for bronze. A win would give Canada its first-ever Olympic medal in softball.
“We came here believing we could go home a gold medallist. All of our focus over the last two years has been on that,” said Smith. “They’ve sacrificed in their lives incredibly to put themselves in this position.
“It’s a tough pill, but at the same time, we’re too good a team not to go home with a medal.”
– with files from The Canadian Press