Team Canada pitcher Karissa Hovinga throws a pitch to a Japanese batter in the first inning of Canada’s game against Japan Sunday morning at Softball City. Japan won the game 2-0.

Team Canada pitcher Karissa Hovinga throws a pitch to a Japanese batter in the first inning of Canada’s game against Japan Sunday morning at Softball City. Japan won the game 2-0.

Canada drops game to Japan; beats Australia

A day after whipping Venezuela 8-1, Team Canada struggled to score against Japan on Day 2 of the Canadian Open Fastpitch International Championship, but bounced back later in the day to beat Australia.

A dropped ball in the outfield and an inability to cash runners in cost Team Canada a win Sunday morning at Softball City, as the host country lost its first game of the Scotiabank Canadian Open Fastpitch Championship, 2-0 to Japan.

But Canada got back to even on the day, with a evening win over Australia by the same score.

As opposed to Canada’s first win – an 8-1 spanking over Venezuela – offence was in short supply Sunday morning, with neither Canada nor Japan able to plate a run in the first five innings. Canadian pitcher Karissa Hovinga allowed just two hits and zero runs in four innings of work, and she was aided in the early going by her fielders, who made a number of big plays. With two out in the top of the first inning, left fielder Melanie Matthews threw out Japan’s Maki Furuta at third base, and second baseman Megan Timpf made a spectacular over-the-shoulder diving catch in shallow centre-field one inning later.

Canada’s veteran catcher Kaleigh Rafter also picked off two runners – one from first base early in the game, and another off third in the seventh.

But as good as the defence was for Canada, it was an error by Matthews that led to the winning run. In the top of the sixth, Matthews – ranging far to her left, and near the outfield wall – dropped a fly ball hit by Faruta, who ended up at second base on the play, and Haruka Kageyama, who pinch-ran for Faruta, scored two batters later.

“The onus is pretty much on me for that one,” Matthews said after the game. “I just lost my focus… but that shouldn’t happen at this level.”

Japan tacked another run on the board in the seventh, after a double, intentional walk and run-scoring single.

Against Australia, Canada scored the winning run in the seventh inning – the game was scoreless through six frames – when Megan Baird singled home Joey Lye. One batter later, Victoria Hayward singled to score Heather Ebert.

Canada pitcher Jenna Caira pitched five innings for the win, while Delta teenager Jocelyn Cater – a White Rock Renegades alum – pitched two innings in relief, striking out three.

Canada (2-1) plays Team USA (2-1) Monday night at 6:30 p.m. at Softball City.