The U.S. defeated Canada Sunday afternoon to win the first ever women's baseball competition in Pan Am Games history.
Ranked 2nd in the world behind Japan, the Americans jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning, weathered a Canadian rally in the 4th and tacked on seven more runs to win 11-3 in front of a sold-out crowd at the Pan Am ballpark in Ajax.
The partisan Canadian crowd tried to rattle U.S. starter Sarah Hudek in the early going, serenading the 18-year-old Texan with mock chants of “Sa-rah! Sa-rah!”
But the crafty lefty — who accepted a scholarship to Bossier Parish Community College in Louisiana earlier this year and is expected to be the only woman in men's college baseball next season — was unfazed.
In fact, the jeers seemed to motivate Hudek, the daughter of former big-leaguer John Hudek. First she worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the opening frame and then drove in the U.S.'s first two runs with a single in the bottom half, adding another RBI with a triple to deep centre field in the 6th. In addition to her work on the mound, Hudek also batted cleanup, despite rules allowing for a designated hitter.
Meanwhile, Canadian starter Vanessa Riopel — who threw five scoreless innings against Cuba on Monday — did not fare as well. The native of Repentigny, Que., couldn't get out of the first inning as the U.S.'s first four batters reached base and Canada fell behind early.
Canada rallied to score three off Hudek in the 4th inning, but the powerful U.S. lineup continued to hammer away at Canada's pitchers, racking up a dozen hits in the afternoon.
It was a disappointing performance for Canada, especially considering their pitching staff entered the game with a combined 1.29 ERA, tops among all teams.
But the U.S. were the favourites to take the gold medal in the historic tournament, having finished second to Japan in the last two Women's Baseball World Cups. Canada, meanwhile, ranks fourth in the world, but took home silver.