Team Italy women's softball squad plays doubleheaders against Canada on April 25 and 26, 2021

Team Italy women's softball squad plays doubleheaders against Canada on April 25 and 26, 2021
In preparation for the , the Team Italy women's softball squad plays third-ranked in a pair of doubleheaders on April 25 and 26, 2021 at the in Fort Myers, Florida

In preparation for the , the Team Italy women's softball squad plays third-ranked in a pair of doubleheaders on April 25 and 26, 2021 at the in Fort Myers, Florida. The 11 am and 1:30 pm (ET) exhibition games on each day will serve as a sneak preview of what to expect when the Olympic foes clash in Japan on July 26, 2021. All Italy-Canada exhibition games will be closed to the public for safety precautions. Watch the livestream by clicking  and follow the live scoring by clicking . 

Team Canada has been training in Fort Myers since March 22, 2021 and has won all six exhibition games played in Florida by outscoring opponents 43-4. The Canadians opened their 2021 season with a 15-0 shutout over Florida SouthWestern (FSW) State College on March 27. The combined one-hitter pitching performance of Lauren Bay Regula, Karissa Hovinga, Jenna Caira, Morgan Rackel and Danielle Lawrie-Locke silenced the FSW Buccaneers' bats with 14 strikeouts. Kelsey Harshman fueled the explosive Team Canada offense with a home run and an RBI double. Additional fire power came in the form of a two-run homer by Kaleigh Rafter, an RBI triple by Emma Entzminger, and RBI doubles from Janet Leung, Erika Polidori, and Natalie Wideman as well as a two-run single by Jenn Salling.

Team Canada defeated the FSW Buccaneers again on April 3 by a score of 9-1. Canadian pitching limited the Bucs to just four hits in the 10-inning exhibition game. Pitchers Sara Groenewegen, Lauren Bay Regula, Karissa Hovinga, Morgan Rackel, Jenna Caira, and Danielle Lawrie-Locke racked up a total of 16 strikeouts. Canada scored early in the top of the second when Erika Polidori led off with a double and Joey Lye was hit by a pitch. Both runners scored on a two-run single by Natalie Wideman. Emma Entzminger flashed her speed after leading off with a single in the fifth inning, stealing second base, tagging up on a fly out to reach third, and scoring on a wild pitch. Joey Lye later contibuted to the offensive fury with two RBI singles and a double. Janet Leung also got in the action with a two-run single.

Team Canada played a doubleheader against the University of Florida Gators and Western Kentucky University at KSP Stadium in Gainesville on April 10, 2021. In the first game, Team Canada beat the fifth-ranked Florida Gators 5-2. Starting pitcher Sara Groenewegen allowed two runs on three hits with six strikeouts in three innings of work. Reliever Jenna Caira picked up the win allowing one hit with two strikeouts and one walk. Erika Polidori and Victoria Hayward led all hitters with two hits each. Doubles from Jenn Salling, Larissa Franklin, Janet Leung, and Erika Polidori electrified the Canada offensive charge. The Canadians were aggressive on the bases as Emma Entzminger swiped two bags and Victoria Hayward stole one. The Gators put pressure on Canada catcher Kaleigh Rafter and stole three bases of their own.

In the second game of the doubleheader, Western Kentucky University (WKU) fell victim to a Canada one-hit 5-0 shutout. Starter Danielle Lawrie-Locke struck out the side in the first inning and retired WKU in order in her second inning of work. Relievers Morgan Rackel, Karissa Hovinga, Lauren Bay Regula, and Sara Groenewegen kept a perfect game in play until the bottom of the seventh inning. Team Canada run producers included Larissa Franklin, who went 2-for-3 with a homer, two RBI and a walk. Joey Lye also picked up two hits (including a double) and scored once. Speedster Emma Entzminger singled, stole a base, and also scored. Shortstop Janet Leung tripled and later came home to seal the victory for Canada.

Florida International University (FIU) hosted Canada on April 21, 2021. The Canadians easily cruised by the FIU Golden Panthers by a score of 9 to 1. Team Canada starting pitcher Lauren Bay Regula regulated for four innings and only issued one walk with four strikeouts. Reliever Jenna Caira allowed one run on three hits and struck out four in her four innings of work. Canada produced 17 hits with at least one from each of the eleven batters in the game. Larissa Franklin led all hitters by going 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI. Other contributors included Joey Lye with three singles, Callum Pilgrim with a single and a double, and Kaleigh Rafter, who singled twice. Erika Polidori clubbed a two-run double, while Kelsey Harshman picked up a hit and two RBI. An RBI triple by Natalie Wideman, an RBI double from Janet Leung, and an RBI single by Jenn Salling reinforced the Team Canada offensive onslaught. Sara Groenewegen and Emma Entzminger also contributed with singles.

Team Italy will undoubtedly gain invaluable experience playing against Canada. Coming off a at the USSSA Space Coast Complex in Viera on April 21, 2021, the Italians hope to rebound with a valiant effort in Fort Myers. Forza #Italia!

by Roberto Angotti