“America, you play baseball so much fun.”
They had just 15 hits, but they scored 23 runs. They had two walk-off home runs. The South Korean women’s national team players, who were on hand to witness the game, said, “It’s so exciting and cool. The United States is really good at baseball,” and gave a thumbs up.
The game was the third match of the Women’s Baseball World Cup 2024 qualifying tournament in Thunder Bay, Canada, on Nov. 11 (KST) between the United States (ranked No. 4 in the world) and Canada (ranked No. 3). It was expected to be a close game, but the game ended with two walk-off home runs and a cold-game victory for the United States in the fifth inning.
In the top of the fourth inning, with the U.S. leading 3-0, Olivia Pizzardo (19), the first woman to play in D1, the top collegiate level, hit a grand slam that brought out the shield of Captain America, a popular character from the movie The Avengers.
The U.S. team came out of the dugout in unison to greet Pizzardo, who hit an exhilarating grand slam, with a Captain America shield. Accepting the Captain America shield, which symbolizes the American “war hero,” Pizzardo raised it high and savored the moment. It was a statement of intent for the once-dominant U.S. women’s national team to return to the top of the game.
In the top of the fifth inning, with the score 7-0, Kelsey Whitmore (25), the first woman to sign a minor league contract and play professionally in the United States, hit a grand slam.
The ‘Captain America’ shield was back in action. Kelsey didn’t stop there, she also brought out the hammer of Thor, the God of Thunder, one of the main characters of The Avengers, for an intense ceremony.
The game was expected to be close, but the 23-0 scoreline was anything but close. The players of the Korean Women’s National Baseball Team agreed: “The game was very exciting and fun, even though it was a one-sided affair. When they hit two grand slams, everyone stood up and cheered. I’m so jealous of the U.S. for being able to play like that.”
The Korean national team players said, “Even if the American players hit a single, they would fly and slide to get on base. Even if they hit a single or a double, they would jump up and down, make wild celebrations, and cheer,” they said, smiling broadly.
After the game, the American players’ uniforms were covered in dirt, but their faces were full of happiness. “I’m happy with our performance,” Olivia and Kelsey told Sports Seoul during the tournament. We have the best players on the team and we will continue to push for the top.”
The U.S. has been through a steady rebuilding process over the past five years, and it’s been a generational transition that has worked perfectly. The U.S. selected its final 20 players through an intense domestic selection process, with the oldest player being 36 years old (born in 1987) and the youngest being 16 years old (born in 2007). It was the same composition as the South Korean women’s national team, but with a significant difference in the middle age group. The United States had players born in the late 1990s to 2000s in the center of its roster.
The average age of the 20 players on the South Korean squad for the Women’s World Cup 2024 qualifiers is 25.35, while the average age of the U.S. team is only 23.55. “Over the past five years, the U.S. Women’s National Team has been working on generational change to strengthen our roster,” said U.S. Head Coach Veronica Alvarez. We are going to give our best every game to win the championship.”
Veronica was the only female head coach among the six nations competing in the qualifier in Thunder Bay. A former catcher for the U.S. Women’s National Team, Veronica came to the tournament as a coach and then a manager. “We want to continue to send a good message to young girls and hope that our achievements will lead to more opportunities for women,” she said.
Outfielder Shin Nuri and pitcher Kim Bomi, who experienced the 8th (2018) Women’s Baseball World Cup in Florida, USA, five years ago, are also amazed at the growth of the USA team. They said, “The U.S. has always been one of the strongest teams, but they seem to have gotten even stronger this year. If the US and Japan meet in the final, I’m really curious to see who will win.”메이저놀이터
A steady rebuilding under consistent leadership, the emergence of talented players, and national support have combined to create an explosion in USA Women’s Baseball in Thunder Bay. All eyes will be on Japan next spring to see if they can defeat the reigning world champions, who have won the last six tournaments in a row, and claim their third title in 18 years.