Canada began its play-off run the wrong way Friday, losing 4-2 to the United States at the ISF Women's World Fastball Championships.
The Canadians sent ace Danielle Lawrie, sister of Toronto Blue Jays star Brett Lawrie, to the mound against Keilani Ricketts of the U.S.
Lawrie had a strong showing, collecting five strikeouts while going the distance, but still collected the loss after a potent U.S. offence pulled away in the fourth inning.
The Americans opened the scoring, bringing in two runs across the plate in the bottom of the third.
Canada responded in the top of the fourth. Calgary's Sheena Lawrick and Kaleigh Rafter of Guelph, Ont., opened the frame with back-to-back singles and Jennifer Salling of Port Coquitlam, B.C., brought Lawrick home on a single down the first-base line.
Canada would add one more run on a sacrifice bunt by Megan Timpf of Port Dover, Ont.
The U.S. collected two more runs in the bottom half of the fourth and Canada was unable to tie the game.
The loss means Canada will play the Netherlands tomorrow afternoon in a must-win situation.
"We needed a break or a bounce here and there and we didn't get it," said head coach Mark Smith. "The United States is a very strong team and I think we're a little better than we showed tonight."
"I thought we played a good ball game," said Rafter, Canada's veteran catcher. "We fought back after they got two runs on us which isn't easy to do ... We just didn't come through with the timely hits today."
With the win, the U.S. remained undefeated in the tournament while Canada's record dropped to 6-2.
Despite the loss, Rafter said the Canadians still have their sights set on the gold.
"The result wasn't what we wanted today but we played a good game, there's nothing to hang our heads about," she said. "We feel like we have a team here that we can leave with a gold medal around our necks."