Jennifer Salling celebrates after a two-run shot Wednesday evening against Puerto Rico. (WBSC video screengrab)

Team Canada step closer to Olympics after beating Puerto Rico

‘Super Round’ games to be played tomorrow at South Surrey’s Softball City

Team Canada was put to the test for the first time at the Americas Olympic Softball Qualifier Wednesday evening at South Surrey’s Softball City.

The game looked much different than the two previous ones Team Canada played at the week-long tournament.

Coming off of a 17-0 victory against Cuba followed by a crushing 19-0 win against Guatemala, Team Canada faced Puerto Rico on Wednesday, the team that’s right on Canada’s heels in international rankings.

Team Canada, ranked third internationally, and Puerto Rico, ranked fourth, are among the most skilled teams in the tournament, followed by Mexico, which is ranked fifth.

Canada opened the scoring in the bottom of the third, and in a big way, too.

With two out, and runners on first and third, Cloverdale’s Holly Speers dinged a grounder to second base, but Peurto Rico hesitated and went for the tag – instead of touching second base – and missed. Canada’s Jennifer Gilbert sprinted home for the run.

RELATED: Olympic berths on line as South Surrey softball qualifier begins

Immediately after that, with a runner on first and another on second, Team Canada’s Jennifer Salling sent a hit towards a gap deep in centre field. It was enough for Gilbert and Speers to score, making it 3-0.

Following the flash of the bats, the bullpens of Team Canada and Puerto Rico were the highlight of the show.

Puertro Rico’s pitching staff allowed five hits, while Canada allowed four.

Surrey’s Sara Groenewegen started the game on the mound, and was replaced by Eujenna Caira in the fifth inning. Canada’s Danielle Lawrie came in during the seventh to close the game.

Puerto Rico was charged with two errors and Canada was charged with one.

Team Canada is now one step closer to a berth in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. The top two finishers of the tournament will secure an invite to the Games, which will mark the first time softball has been part of the Olympics since 2008.

Canada is scheduled to play the Bahamas tonight at 6 p.m., which will be the last game before the “Super Round.”

The Super Round will feature the top three teams from both Pool A and Pool B.

Super Round games begin tomorrow.

Watch last night’s full game here:

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