ISF IX WOMEN'S WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

LOCATION: Fujinomiya City, Japan
DATES: July 20-30, 1998
PARTICIPATING COUNTRIES (17): Australia, Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Italy, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, Netherlands Antilles, New Zealand, Philippines, South Africa, USA, Venezuela

UMPIRES

FINAL STANDINGS

Rank
Team
Round Robin
Playoffs
Total
1
USA
8-0
3-1
11-1
2
Australia
7-0
2-1
9-1
3
Japan
6-1
2-2
8-3
4
China
5-2
2-1
7-3
5
Canada
6-2
1-2
7-4
6
Italy
6-2
1-2
7-4
7
Chinese Taipei
5-3
0-1
5-4
8
Venezuela
3-4
0-1
3-5
9
Netherlands
4-4
4-4
10
Netherlands Antilles
3-4
3-4
11
New Zealand
3-4
3-4
12
Czech Republic
3-5
3-5
13
Colombia
3-5
3-5
14
Korea
1-6
1-6
15
South Africa
1-7
1-7
16
Philippines
0-7
0-7
17
Denmark
0-8
0-8

 

Playoffs
July 28
Italy 1, Venezuela 0
USA 1, Japan 0
China 7, Chinese Taipei 0
Australia 1, Canada 0
July 29
Japan 2, Italy 0
China 3, Canada 0
Australia 2, USA 1
Japan 3, China 0
July 30
USA 4, Japan 0 (bronze medal game)
Canada 1, Italy 0
USA 1, Australia 0 (gold medal game)

GOLD MEDAL: United States
SILVER MEDAL: Australia
BRONZE MEDAL: Japan

USA Nips Australia 1-0 in Rain-Delayed Final
Lisa Fernandez Difference as USA Wins Fourth Consecutive ISF World Championship

FUJINOMIYA CITY, JAPAN - Neither Australia nor a rain delay could keep the United States from winning its fourth consecutive and sixth overall ISF Women's World Fast Pitch Championship here July 31.

Pitcher Lisa Fernandez was all the USA needed as she shutout Australia, 1-0, in a gold medal game delayed almost six hours by rain. The USA scored all the runs they needed in the top of the first inning as Fernandez smashed a two-out, 0-2 pitch far over the fence in left center field, hitting a TV camera positioned there. After USA first baseman Sheila Douty grounded out to end the top half of the first inning, the heavens opened up and play was suspended.

At 12:30 a.m., July 31st, play resumed from the point which it had been suspended - the bottom of the first inning. At that point Fernandez went to work, striking out 14 Australia batters with a varied assortment of pitches that had them swinging from their heels. It was the first loss for Australia in 10 games at the 1998 World Championship. Fernandez needed only 74 pitches in what was certainly a display of pitching efficiency.

The Fernandez home run came off Aussie losing pitcher Tanya Harding, and was only one of three hits she allowed in her 90 pitch complete game. But it turned out to be the difference. Fernandez wasn't to be denied as she limited the Aussies to only a single by Simmone Morrow in winning her fifth game in six starts. The only game Fernandez and the USA lost was the night before, 2-1, to Australia in 12 innings. The loss not only stopped the USA's 42 consecutive game win streak in Women's World Championship play, but also put the USA in a do-or-die situation against a strong Japan team in the bronze medal game. The winner of that game would advance to the gold medal game against Australia. Japan, which lost to the USA 1-0 in nine innings in its first playoff game, was no match for Fernandez and veteran Douty as the USA came away with a decisive 4-0 victory. Fernandez limited Japan to five hits while Douty and left fielder Kim Maher led the eight-hit USA offense against two Japan pitchers. Douty settled the issue early with a two-run homer in the first inning, her fourth of the championship, and Maher, who struggled at the plate throughout the tournament, added some insurance with a two-run single in the seventh inning.

The win over Japan moved the USA into a gold medal game that for a time seemed as if it might not be played. ISF officials and members of the organizing committee met during the delay and said a decision would be forthcoming at 10:00 p.m. Once it was determined that the rains had subsided for good, it was announced that play would resume at 12:30 a.m. from the point at which the game was suspended - in the bottom of the first inning.

Field conditions were of some concern due to the amount of rain that had fallen. The infield was in good condition since it was tarped shortly after play was suspended. The outfield, however, was another matter. Standing water caused large puddles in left and right field. The local organizing committee and the Japanese fans were so intent on seeing a gold medal game and honoring a TV contract, that 200 fans came out of the stands and worked with the grounds crew to clear the water. They soaked up the excess water with giant sponges and by 11:30 p.m. the field was playable. "The Japanese people did an outstanding job," said ISF President Don E. Porter. "They got the field playable and we were fortunate to be able to decide this World Championship on the field."

So, while there was some concern whether or not the gold medal game could be played, the ISF and the local organizing committee pulled out all the stops to ensure that the World Championship was decided where it should be - on the ball field.

When play resumed, Fernandez went to work setting down the Australia batters in one-two-three fashion with only one ball reaching the outfield against her. It was a performance befitting a World Championship and one that left no doubt that Fernandez is the best when the stakes are the highest.

"Lisa is a phenomenal athlete and competitor. She took over the game tonight and wouldn't let anything stand in her way," said USA Head Coach Margie Wright, who capped quite a year for herself. With the World Championship, she is the first coach ever to win an ISF World Championship and NCAA College World Series in the same year. In May, Wright coached Fresno State to its first NCAA College World Series title, beating Arizona, 1-0.


(This article appeared in the Sep.-Oct. 1998 edition of World Softball magazine, Volume 28, Number 4.)

 

 

 

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