Botswana men’s softball national team faltered when it mattered most to let South Africa qualify for the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WSBC) World Cup.
The local lads lost 3 – 5 to South Africa in the African Championship grand finale.
The loss was a letdown for Botswana, who, heading to the grand finale, had looked a sure bet to triumph over their higher ranked nemesis. In a championship attended by the two countries and Kenya only, it was Botswana who had promised a lot but failed to deliver when it mattered most.
During the group stages, Botswana had beaten both South Africa and Kenya twice. In their first game of the championship, Botswana had put Kenya to the sword with a 10 – 0 hammering before narrowly beating South Africa 2 – 0.
It was more of the same in the second round of matches as Botswana beat Kenya 19 – 0 before doing the same to South Africa, albeit with a much bigger 11 – 0 score line this time around.
The results meant Botswana advanced straight to the Grand finale on Sunday while South Africa and Kenya locked horns in the finals on the same day to decide who will face Botswana in the grand finale.
In what was a matter of who wanted it the most in the grand finale, Botswana was found wanting as South Africa proved why they are ranked the best side in the continent.
Playing at the top of the innings in the grand finale, South Africa started well as they registered their first run of the game in the first inning, thanks to Phomolo Phaladi’s home run.
The South Africans then increased their lead over Botswana at the top of the third innings as they registered three more runs, taking their lead over Botswana to 4 – 0 as Botswana failed to respond.
There was however a glimmer of hope for Botswana at the bottom of the fifth innings as Botswana scored two runs to half the deficit and give themselves a shot at overhauling their neighbours. This was however not to be as Botswana failed to register any runs in the sixth innings in which they had restricted South Africa.
Trailing 2 – 4 in the ultimate 7th inning, Botswana’s task of overhauling South Africa got even more difficult as the latter consolidated its lead with a single run to take the score to 2 – 5 in their favour.
While Botswana would go on to steal another run to make the score 3 – 5 in what was a tempestuous bottom 7 inning, it was too little too late as South Africa held on to book a place at the WBSC World Cup.