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Norton blasts lifts Australia over Japan in ISF Men’s World Softball Championship

Saturday, July 4th, 2015

SASKATOON, SK, Canada – For five innings, the Australia Steelers struggled at the plate against Japan’s Kento Okazaki. The right-hander had held the Aussies to two hits in a scoreless deadlock with Steelers’ pitcher Adam Folkard.

But in the sixth inning, Aussie catcher Nick Norton changed all that with one swing of his bat. The right-side hitter blasted a three-run home run over the center field fence giving Folkard all the runs he would need in closing out Japan, 3-0, in the championship round playoffs, Saturday afternoon.

Okazaki hit Zenon Winter with a pitch to lead off the sixth, and one-out later, Nick Shailes bounced a single through the third base-shortstop hole. Andrew Kirkpatrick lofted a towering infield pop-up for the second out.

And that brought Norton to the plate, and his line drive homer easily cleared the fence for the game-winner. For his efforts, Norton was named “The Player of The Game” by the Ballpark Radio broadcasting crew.

The game was close throughout with hits hard to come by. Okazaki came away the hard luck pitcher, allowing just three hits, three runs, three walk with five strikeouts.

Folkard (5-1, 43 innings, 1.30 ERA, 72 strikeouts) continued his dominance in the world softball championship by holding Japan to five hits, one walk with 12 strikeouts.

Australia also beat Japan in the opening round robin game of Pool A in another close encounter; that time squeezing out a 1-0 win.

The win moves Australia (1-1 playoffs, 6-3 overall) along in the playoffs where the Steelers will meet the winner between the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, late Saturday.