Less than 24 hours after she led Canada’s softball team to its first win at the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, Sara Groenewegen again led the charge for her team in Game 2 – both as a pitcher and at the plate – but it was still not enough to dethrone the top-ranked U.S. squad.
The U.S. defeated Canada 1-0 Wednesday evening (Pacific time), with American pitcher Monica Abbott – one of the sport’s greatest players – holding the Canadians at bay. Abbott held Canada without a hit until the sixth inning when, with the U.S. up by one, she walked Jen Gilbert, who was replaced by pinch-runner Joey Lye.
Groenewegen – known more for her pitching than her batting – had already pitched the first two innings, but re-entered the game as a pinch hitter, and drilled a line drive to the gap in right-centre field that nearly scored Lye from first.
Lye, however, fell victim to a perfect relay from the U.S defence, and was thrown out at the plate – though there was likely a case to be made for obstruction of home plate by the American catcher. Despite a brief plea from Canadian head coach Mark Smith – not to mention the CBC broadcasters and a number of fans on social media – the umpire deemed the play acceptable, and no runs scored.
Groenewegen ended up on third base once the dust settled, but the batters that followed were unable to cash in the tying run before the end of the inning.
In the seventh, Abbott retired all three Team Canada batters to end the game.
Groenewegen, a former star with the White Rock Renegades, struck out four while allowing three hits in two innings of work. Jenna Caira, followed by Danielle Lawrie, worked in relief after Groenewegen left the game – the same pitching order Canada used in their tournament-opening 4-0 victory over Mexico late Tuesday night.
Though there were no fans in attendance at either game, a contigent of local softball fans gathered Wednesday evening at Softball City to cheer on the Canadian players at an official watch party.