Australia will aim for a fifth softball Olympic medal after dominating the WBSC Asia/Oceania Olympic Qualifier in Shanghai, China.
The Travelodge Aussie Spirit were forced to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics after the sport was removed from the schedule following the 2008 Beijing Games, but will make their anticipated return 12 years later, what feels like a lifetime for the sport’s fans Down Under.
Australia kept a perfect record across five games defeating Chinese Taipei 5-1, Indonesia 8-0, Hong Kong 8-0, Philippines 7-0 and today defeated China 9-3 to clinch their Olympic return.
It was a shaky start with China scoring in the first inning, however, as has been the case for the entire tournament, the Aussie bats caught fire to blitz their way past their final opponent.
Stacey McManus (NSWIS) and Clare Warwick recorded hits with Leigh Godfrey blasting a triple for the Aussie Spirit to run in five scoring plays and regain control of the game in the bottom of the second.
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China closed the gap to two runs in the top of the fourth to get back into the ball game 5-3, Australia answered immediately as skipper Stacey Porter (NSWIS) drove home two runners off a single and dashed home herself off a Carmie Sorensen double to wrestle the game back, they added another for good measure to end the inning 9-3.
Kaia Parnaby (NSWIS) pitched the entire game to keep China to three and seal the deal for the Aussie Spirit in the top of the seventh inning.
Australia joins the United States, Italy, Japan, Canada and Mexico as the six competing nations at the Games. They will be shooting for a fifth medal following Bronze in 1996, Bronze in 2000, Silver in 2004 and Bronze in 2008, a medal for each year the sport has been included.
The softball will commence two days prior to the opening ceremony from 22-28 July 2020 at Fukushima Azuma and Yokohama Baseball Stadium.