02 Feb

Japan have won the Australia Pacific Cup for a second time, defeating the Travelodge Aussie Spirit 7-0 at Blacktown International Sportspark.

The finals of the Australia Pacific Cup were a true Olympic preview with all four teams bound for Tokyo 2020 featuring in the semi-finals.

In the first semi, first placed Japan played fourth place Italy in what threatened to be an upset as the Europeans pushed the Olympic hosts to the edge.

After falling behind by three runs through three innings, the Italians clawed their way back at the top of the sixth inning after a double from Andrea Howard sent home two runners.

They ultimately left their run too late as Japan advanced with a 3-2 victory.

Meanwhile, the Travelodge Aussie Spirit and Mexico played out an epic eight innings semi-final with the Australians thrilling their hometown crowd.

Mexico took an early lead in the top of the second scoring two runs with Australia answering straight back with two of their own in the bottom of the third.

Kaia Parnaby kept Mexico scoreless between the third and sixth inning and Ellen Roberts stepped in to keep the scores locked in the bottom of the seventh, forcing an extra eighth inning.

Roberts struck out Victoria Vidales as Stacey Porter and Taylah Tsitsikronis linked up for a double play to give Australia a chance in the bottom of the inning.

Shannon Keevers took her place at second base and was pushed to third by a sacrifice bunt from Chelseas Forkin, Leigh Godfrey skied a fly ball into a shallow right-field giving Keevers the time to race to home plate, beat the tag and secure the game for the Travelodge Aussie Spirit 3-2.

Japan were as clinical as ever in the final and pulled away in the top of the second 2-0, with a further unanswered run in the top of the fifth.

They were able to put the game away with four more runs in the top of the sixth, giving Japan a 7-0 win and their second Australia Pacific Cup title.

Catcher Yamamoto Fujita was named Player of the Final courtesy of her brilliant work on the mound, her seven strikeouts making life difficult for the Travelodge Aussie Spirit.

Her teammate Hitomi Kawaba was awarded Best Batter with Kaia Parnaby crowned Best Pitcher of the tournament. Travelodge Aussie Spirit skipper Stacey Porter claimed the 2020 Australia Pacific Cup Most Valuable Player award.

Australia A finished the tournament in fifth position after they defeated New Zealand 9-1 and Chinese Taipei 7-2.

For final standings and box scores from the tournament, visit softball.org.au.

Blacktown International Sportspark now plays host to the Summer Slam – Fully Loaded Softball from 3-5 February.

The Summer Slam – Fully Loaded Softball is an exciting, fast-paced take on the traditional game with only three innings, shorter fences and loaded bases for every inning. Six teams made up of international softball stars compete over three days with the winner crowned on the final day.

Teams include Fury, Emeralds, Lightning, Riot, Bandits and Panthers with the inaugural tournament taken out by the Fury highlighted by a grand-slam homerun in the final rom South Australian Belinda White to defeat the Emeralds.

Coverage begins at 5:00pm AEDT on FOX SPORTS Australia and Kayo, as well as Sky Sport in New Zealand.

Media interested in covering the 2020 Summer Slam - Fully Loaded Softball are encouraged to contact Jack Lucas via email jack.lucas@softball.org.au.

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