2013 ISF World Softball Championship

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Venezuela knocks off defending champion Australia to reach gold medal game

Saturday, March 9th, 2013

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND – The Venezuelan fastball team doesn’t rely on one pitcher to carry the load, choosing instead more of a “pitching-by-committee” approach.

Through pool play and in the playoffs, four pitchers took their turn in the circle.

On Sunday in the Bronze medal game against Australia, it was Erick Urbaneja’s turn, and he responded with five innings of shutout pitching. After he gave up a lead off single in the sixth, “the committee” summoned right-hander Ramon Jones.

It proved a wise change because Jones responded by continuing the shutout the rest of the way as Venezuela knocked off Australia, 2-0, to advance to the Gold medal game against New Zealand.

The victorious Venezuelans celebrated after the final out by rushing the mound, embracing Jones, dancing about and back slapping in glee. And rightfully they should.

For this marked an epic achievement: it’s the first time Venezuela has ever advanced into the ISF World Championship Gold medal game.

No one was happier and more exuberant than catcher Rafael Flores. He was so excited that he embraced an Australian coach. And then sprawled face-first on the ground from sheer emotion.

“We are a family,” said Flores through an interpreter. “I am really proud of our team.”

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Folkard and Kirkpatrick, the best pitching staff in fastball

Saturday, March 9th, 2013

Left-hander Andrew Kirkpatrick has won three games in the 2013 ISF World Softball Championships, and when teamed with right-hander Adam Folkard, the Australia Steelers have arguably the best pitching staff in the World Championships. Photo courtesy of the International Softball Congress.

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND – Fans of just about any sport are enamored with speed. NASCAR drivers who reach speeds over 200 mph. Tennis players with serves over 100 mph. Track stars running the 100 meters under 10 seconds.

And baseball fans?

We lean forward in our seats when a pitcher rears back and brings the heat – 95, 98 and occasionally topping 100 miles per hour.

Fastball fans are no exception.

Reading the press, reveals that the darling of the radar gun is Australia’s Adam Folkard. The 26-year-old right-hander is recognized as the hardest thrower in the game today.

Folkard has been “gunned” reaching speeds of 80 to 84 miles per hour. That’s really bringing it from 46 feet away. The equivilent to the high 90s in baseball.

As Australia gets ready for the Bronze medal game against Venezuela, fans are probably asking:

“Will Folkard throw? Can he go? After all he threw on Saturday against the tough Argentinians, before finally topping them 2-1 in eight grueling innings.”

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