NORTH RIVER – It wasn’t quite the result the North River Gators had hoped to kick off their run at the Canadian Under 21 Women’s Fastpitch Championship with.
But the team didn’t walk away from the Leo Blair Memorial Fields in North River Wednesday witht heir heads hanging either.
The Gators dropped a 10-4 decision to the Manitoba Terminators Thursday afternoon. But, to Nrth River’s credit, the contest was much closer than the scoreboard showed at the end.
“It was a good way to start off the tournament,” said Gators pitcher Lisa Green, who allowed 11 hits while striking out four. “Manitoba is always a good team and we had them going into the fifth inning so it’s a pretty big accomplishment for us I think.”
Shaky start may have cost the host team as the Gators went through their batting order before starting to hit the ball. By then it was half-way through the seven-inning contest.
“We seemed a little anxious,” Green said. “We can’t take that one inning off. We can’t do that kind of stuff here and I think that was a good indication of what will happen if we do that.”
Kelsey Shipley led the Gators at the plate going 2-for-3 with a triple that knocked in three runs. Alicia Guthro smacked a double and knocked in the other run with a sacrifice fly.
Manitoba spotted itself a 2-0 lead in the third inning before the Gators answered back. After loading the bases, Shipley smashed her triple, chasing Manitoba starter Kailee Neal from the contest. The terminators brought Sarah Shotton on in relief to buy Madison Hope time to get warm. But before Hope could get into the contest, Guthro brought Shipley home.
Most of the 300 people in the pro-North River crowd were up out of their seats making noise in support of the Gators.
But Manitoba answered back by scoring a pair in the fifth and never looked back. North River tried to mount a comeback with their final at bat, putting runners on second and third, but couldn’t cash them in.
“We’re a much better hitting team than what we showed today,” Gators head coach John Shipley said. “But I’m happy we put up some runs against a team that is always around the medals at every national.”
Now the Gators are turning their focus to Wednesday night's match against the Charlottetown Mariners, who also dropped their opener 11-4 to the Mississauga North Tigers.
“It’ll be huge to get our bats going right off the bat instead of waiting for the fourth inning,” Green said. “I think as the tournament goes on we’ll get better at controlling those emotions.”