Chinese Taipei took the rough road to book their berth in the final when they edged Korea 3-2 in a tie breaker, after both teams were tied 2-2 after seven innings, to meet Japan in the 3rd Asian Universities Women Softball Asia Cup 2022 final tomorrow morning.
Korea were on the road to create an upset to deny Chinese Taipei a berth in the final when they led 2-0 from the first inning, but the latter made a late comeback with a run in the sixth and seventh inning to pull level and force the game into tie-breaker.
Chinese Taipei and Japan who had topped their respective Groups after the single round robin and had defeated Singapore (7-0) and Thailand (10-0) respectively in an earlier Super Round match before they faced each other earlier in the morning.
Chinese Taipei who were poised to make the final had a rude shock when Japan, another title contender, defeated them 5-0, in a prelude to what was supposed to be the final tomorrow at Rugby International schools ground on pitch A in Pattaya, Thailand.
Chinese Taipei and Japan had topped their respective Groups after the single round robin and had defeated Singapore (7-0) and Thailand (10-0) respectively in an earlier Super Round match before they faced each other.
Japan and Chinese Taipei put on a pitching and batting display with Japan striking out 8 batters and making 8 hits while Chinese-Taipei struck out 2 batters and made 6 hits.
The game ended 5-0 in favour of Japan after four scoreless innings with all 5 Japanese runs scored in the 6th inning.
Left fielder Asuka Saito got the ball rolling in the 6th inning, making a two-base hit to left-centre field. She was brought home by shortstop Mio Endo who homered to left field for a 2RBI at-bat before the 4th, 5th and 6th batters scored on a combination of hits and a walk to take the lead.
Team Japan then held Chinese-Taipei to a scoreless 6th and 7th inning. Pitcher Misaki Tsubono got the win after facing 18 batters and striking out 3 batters.
Japan continued their winning streak in the afternoon to beat Hong Kong 13-0 to confirm their berth in the final
But it was Korea who were show stealers of the day, only to be denied a place in the final.
It was a case of being so close, yet so far for the Koreans.
Japan’s head coach Kyoko Kida through interpreter Akiko Kamida said she was happy with their performance against Chinese Taipei, but will be better tomorrow, as she too was hoping for a repeat showdown in the final.
“Japan will be a different team tomorrow. Yes the win today is morale booster, but we took six innings before we had any runs,” said Kida after the game against Chinese Taipei.
“Tomorrow we want to finish the game earlier and start getting our runs earlier and not wait till the last moment.”
But later in the day when Korea looked set to upset Chinese Taipei for a berth in the final, Kida said: “I had expected Chinese Taipei to make the final, but I was not surprised that Korea almost made it. It is sad that they were so close and missed the chance to play in the final.
“But Korea and Chinese Taipei are formidable teams and it does not matter whom we met.
“We are concerned with our team and our performance. We will be at our best in the final and hope it is good enough for us to win the title, as that was our goal coming here.”
In the round robin Group match Japan had defeated Korea 7-0.
Chinese Taipei coach Lin Pei-Chun said that pressure got the better of her players.
“But I am glad that the players fought back hard to force the game to tie-breaker. Once it went to tie breaker, I was confident that we will win, as we often practice for tie-breaker situations.
“I am happy for the players for having made the final and the players are naturally happy, but I am not happy with the overall performance. Hope they can make amends tomorrow in the final and wrest the title, although we had lost to them in the group tie.”
Korean coach, Lee Hoojung said it was sad that they had to miss the final after so close to achieving it.
“We should have wrapped up the game earlier and not allowed it to reach the tie-breaker,” said Lee.
“My players lost their concentration in the tie-breaker and we paid a heavy price.”
Lee said that team would have been better prepared if they had more than five days preparations.
“The players came from five universities and we did not have much time to train together. I am sure we would have done better if we had a longer preparation.
“I any case, we will try and get some consolation in the bronze medal match against Singapore.”
Korea had defeated Singapore 8-1 in their Group B match.
Earlier, Singapore was the other surprise team, to make the bronze medal play-off tomorrow ousting Hong Kong 9-2.
And Singapore confirmed their bronze medal match for tomorrow when they downed Thailand 11-1 in their second Super Round match in the afternoon for their second consecutive win of the day.
Thailand with three losses in the Super Round had to settle for fifth spot, while Hong Kong also with three losses in the Super Round when they went down to Japan 15-0 in their final Super Round match finished sixth overall, on head to head count where Thailand had defeated Hong Kong 8-6 in the round robin round.
Malaysia avoided finishing as wooden spoonist when they defeated India 8-1 in the placement match.
Malaysia started aggressively with 3 runs in the first inning but India kept pace with one run. Malaysia went on to stretch their lead with another run in the next inning, before Malaysia had to wait for the sixth and seventh inning for a run and three to compete the game with 8 runs.
SUPER ROUND MATCHES ON THURSDAY:
Korea 13 Hong Kong 0
Japan 10 Thailand 0
Chinese Taipei 7 Singapore 0
TODAY’S SUPER ROUND RESULTS
Singapore 9 Hong Kong 2
Thailand 1 Korea 8
Japan 5 Chinese Taipei 0
Malaysia 8 India 1 (placement match)
Singapore 11 Thailand 1
Japan 15 Hong Kong 0
Chinese Taipei 2 Korea 2 (Chinese Taipei won 3-2 won tie breaker)
STANDINGS AFTER SUPER ROUND/ PLACEMENT MATCH
- Japan 2. Chinese Taipei 3. Korea 4. Singapore 5.Thailand 6. Hong Kong 7. Malaysia 8. India
9.00am (Bronze Medal) Korea v Singapore
11.00am (Gold Medal) Japan v Chinese Taipei