Australia clinch 2024 World Cup Finals spot, defeating Great Britain 4-1

Australia has clinched the second spot from Group A, with the 2024 WBSC Women’s Softball World Cup Finals in Italy now a reality, after beating Great Britain 4-1.

The Aussie Spirit did it the hard way, however. After losing the opening round game to Great Britain, it was an uphill battle. After losing against the USA, the challenge became great.

Thankfully, the Aussie Spirit were greater.

A rain delay put the pressure on to start the day, however the team battled through their first playoff win, beating Chinese Taipei 4-3 (click here for the match report). A half-hour break was all the team had to regroup for the second playoff, this time for an opportunity to punch their ticket for the Finals in 2024.

Who stood in their way? Great Britain. The plucky Brits have stunned the softball world this week with powerful pitching performances from Georgina Corrick and well-worked hitting to put themselves in the picture.

Australia went back to one of their own pitching aces for the game, giving Ellen Roberts the duties. The veteran Olympian had kept the Spirit in contention in that opening day clash, and she repaid the faith from coach Laing Harrow by tossing another gem, allowing just a single run, striking out six and restricting Great Britain to four hits.

The Spirit came out swinging to start the game, threatening to score in the first inning, but it was Great Britain who would take an early lead, with Tia Warsop taking home on a wild pitch that just escaped the grasp of Australia’s catcher Belinda White.

Great Britain threatened again in the second, and Corrick looked to be in complete control, barely giving an inch to the Spirit team who were desperate to avenge their earlier shutout.

The vocal Brits – whose chanting to Seven Nation Army became a constant soundtrack – looked to have an opening in the bottom of the fourth but couldn’t quite crack through, and the pressure was starting to build with long at-bats becoming common as the game wore on .

It is here that we enter the decisive fifth inning.

Down and out, Tamieka Whitefield reached first on a strikeout wild pitch, but with two outs in the book after Shannon Keever’s strikeout and a dealing Georgina Corrick, it was going to take something special. That something special didn’t have to be a big hit. It didn’t need to be flashy. It had to be something insightful. After Taylah Tsitsikronis hit a single through the middle and Kylie Steemers was uncharacteristically hit by pitch, Olympic veteran Jade Wall stepped up and sensed the moment. It was time to challenge Corrick to a duel of wits. With loaded bases, the pressure was all on Great Britain.

Wall drew the walk to tie up the game.

Captain and fellow veteran Clare Warwick followed Wall and drew a hit by pitch to give Australia the lead.

Young gun Georgia Hood put the ball in play, and the pressure was too much for Great Britain, as they missed the throw to first, allowing Australia to score two more runs.

Within three at-bats, the scoreboard – which at the start of the inning had read 1-0 in Britain’s favour – now said 4-1 Australia.

The British Fortress had fallen, and with a rejuvenated Ellen Roberts on the mound, it all went one way. Australia didn’t allow Great Britain to register a single hit in the final three innings, with the duo of Roberts and catcher White working together with the progressively harder weather conditions to secure the result. A sharp fly-out to first base sealed the win, and the celebrations began.

Softball Australia CEO, Rosie Williams OBE, expressed her delight at the result, saying; “What a week of fantastic softball! The Aussie Spirit ground their way through to the World Cup Finals, taking on not only the teams, but also the weather. We are very proud of the grit and determination the players have shown and really looking forward now to the finals back in Europe in 2024.”

“Weekends like this don’t happen without wonderful teams behind the teams. Our coaches, managers, medics and analysts have worked day and night for these results and we thank them.”

“Our task now is to get everybody home safe to rest for a few days and then get into their training in preparation for the World Cup Finals in 2024.”

AUS 4R 5H 1E
GBR 1R 4H 1E

Article adapted from the WBSC Oceania website.