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Updated: September 24, 2011
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Sparks Haarlem, Terrasvogels qualify for Holland Series & European Cups!
Nederlands
HAARLEM / ALKMAAR (Neth.) - Oolders Omaco Sparks Haarlem and Iber Lengua Terrasvogels won their best-of-five Play-Off on Saturday, September 24 and with this, the two teams not only reached the Holland Series, but also clinched a spot in one of the two European Cuptournaments of next year.

At Haarlem, reigning Dutch champion Sparks Haarlem won 3-1 vs. Olympia Haarlem to complete a 3-game sweep and become the first team to advance to the season's finale.

At Alkmaar, Terrasvogels won twice vs. Alcmaria Victrix to win their series 3-1 and become the second finalist. Terrasvogels led 7-1 in Game One, highlighted by a 3-run homerun by Solange Starrenburg, but Alcmaria narrowed the deficit to make it a 7-5 final score. In Game Two, Terrasvogels trailed 3-0, but in the end won 6-3.

By winning their Play-Offs, Sparks Haarlem and Terrasvogels return to the Holland Series (of which the first edition was played in 1982) in which they will meet each other for the tenth time in history and fifth time in the last eight years. The last time was in 2007 when Terrasvogels swept Sparks Haarlem to win the title.

Did favorites Sparks Haarlem and Terrasvogels indeed reach the Holland Series, compliments surely have to be made to their opponents Olympia Haarlem and Alcmaria Victrix. Last season, Olympia Haarlem finished in the cellar of the big league and had to play a Promotion/Relegation Play-Off to secure their spot in this season's top division. Alcmaria Victrix this season returned to the big league after a long absence, immediately made a fine impression, became an attractive addition to the highest league and reached the Play-Offs in their first year back.



Olympia Haarlem vs. Oolders Omaco Sparks Haarlem
At Haarlem, Sparks Haarlem faced a strong throwing Amanda Lindsey, who clearly had recovered after being hit on her wrist by a line drive a week ago. The righthander struckout 14 batters and gave up only six basehits, but these were enough to produce three runs, which resulted in a 3-1 win for Sparks Haarlem. Olympia outhit Sparks 7-6, but scored only one run.

After Amanda Lindsey retired the side in the first inning, Olympia got a chance to open the score in their first at bat, but left two runners behind. With one out, Sparks-starter Rebecca Soumeru gave up a single to Laura Burggraaf, but followed with a strikeout. Next, Maranca Ham also singled, but then a force out ended the at bat.


...Chantal Versluis...
...2 hits, double, run, RBI...
(© Photo: Marco Stoovelaar)
In the second inning, Marloes Fellinger (who filled in again at third base for injured Virginie Anneveld) led off by reaching on an error, but then three outs followed.

Rebecca Soumeru then retired the side in the home of the second and got the support of a run in the top of the third. After Amanda Lindsey struckout the first two batters, Chantal Versluis singled and stole second base, then Areke Spel walked. Debby Connor then followed with another single enabling Versluis to open the score.

Lindsey then retired the side in the fourth and fifth (four strikeouts in a row), but gave up another run in the sixth. Areke Spel then led off with a bunt-single and stole second base with one out. She then scored when Marloes Fellinger singled.

Olympia, which had only one baserunner from the second through fifth inning, then threatened in the bottom of the sixth inning when it got the bases loaded with only one out. With one out, Laura Burggraaf, Dinet Oosting and Maranca Ham all singled to load the bases, which led to a pitching change. Dagmar Bloeming took over for Rebecca Soumeru and finished the inning by striking out Amanda Lindsey and Rosanne de Vries.

Sparks Haarlem then added an insurance run in the top of the seventh when Silea Bos singled on a bunt and scored on a following double by Chantal Versluis to make it 3-0. In the home of the seventh, Olympia managed to score its first run in the series against Sparks. With one out, Gwen Brinkman reached third base on a dropped fly ball in the outfield, was unable to move on an infield-hit by Marit Molenaar, but then did score on a grounder by Elena Leon. But hereafter, Bloeming ended the inning and the game with a strikeout to earn a save.

With this, Sparks Haarlem completed a sweep to qualify for the 15th time (including two as its predecessor HHC) for the Holland Series. It will mark the 13th time in the last 16 seasons (and seven of the last eight) that Sparks Haarlem will play in the final. Last year, Sparks Haarlem won the championship by dethroning Tex Town Tigers, which this season didn't reach the Play-Offs.



Alcmaria Victrix vs. Iber Lengua Terrasvogels
At Alkmaar, Terrasvogels won 7-5 and 6-3 vs. Alcmaria Victrix to win their Play-Off series 3-1 and return to the Holland Series for the first time since 2009. Again, the two teams played two long games. After the 5-inning opener lasted one hour and 33 minutes, the two teams played a record 3:22 hour, 9-inning game last Tuesday. Today, the first game took two hours and 36 minutes, then the next one lasted two hours and 51 minutes. But the spectators saw two enjoyous games with a lot of action and a lot of runs.


...Solange Starrenburg (8) is greeted after...
...hitting a 3-run homerun in the 4th...
(© Photo: Marco Stoovelaar)
In the opener, Terrasvogels led 7-1 when Alcmaria suddenly came back with a 4-run rally in the sixth inning.

Terrasvogels was off to a good start, scoring three runs in the first inning off starter Femke van Dusschoten. With the first pitch she threw, the righthander hit lead-off batter Meike Witteveen on her arm. She then followed with a strikeout, but then gave up a single to Solange Starrenburg, then also hit Kate Gentile to load the bases. A single to right-center by Anouk van den Heuvel then produced two runs and gave Terrasvogels an early lead. The next run was then scored on a grounder by MariŽlle Vleugels.

Terrasvogels-starter Kate Vanderham gave up a run in the first Alcmaria-at bat. She gave up a lead-off double to Kimberly Jones, who then advanced on a wild pitch and scored on a triple by Anne Vlietstra, who stranded on third base.

In the second inning, Terrasvogels got two runners when Kate Vanderham was hit on her back and Meike Witteveen walked with one out, but then Femke van Dusschoten ended the inning with two strikeouts. She added two strikeouts in the third, but then gave up four runs in the fourth with two outs. Dana Horeman led off with a walk, advanced on a sac-bunt by Kate Vanderham and scored on a 2-out double by Meike Witteveen. Next, MarisŤla de Wind reached on a bunt-single and then Solange Starrenburg drilled a pitch over the fence in left-centerfield for a 3-run homerun and a 7-1 lead.


...NoŽmie Brandjes slides into third base after...
...hitting a 3-run triple in the sixth inning...
(© Photo: Marco Stoovelaar)
Alcmaria left a runner in the third, fourth and fifth inning, as Kate Vanderham got some nice defensive support, including a double play when short stop MariŽlle Vleugels caught a line drive, but then came back into the game with a 4-run rally in the sixth. With one out, Maxime van Dalen was hit by a pitch and advanced on a single by Maiken Rooker. Hereafter, the bases were loaded when Jessie van Aalst walked and this led to a pitching change. Ginger de Weert took over, but was greeted with a baseclearing, 3-run triple by NoŽmie Brandjes, who then scored herself moments later on a wild pitch. After a flyout, Maaike Blaauwgeers doubled, but then De Weert ended the at bat with a strikeout.

In the seventh, Alcmaria threatened again. Anne Blaauwgeers led off with a walk, whereafter Kate Vanderham was brought back in as pitcher. Anne Vlietstra was then hit by a pitch, but then Vanderham followed with a strikeout. Next, 2B Meike Witteveen made a great play on a hit by pinch-hitter Malou van Dusschoten to retire the batter and preventing at least one run. A following grounder then ended the game.

In Game 2, Terrasvogels faced a 3-0 deficit after two innings, but turned the game around from the fourth inning on.

In the first inning, Meike Witteveen led off with a double and in the second, Anouk van den Heuvel and Dana Horeman walked, but two of them would strand. Alcmaria saw Kimberly Jones (walk) and Maxime van Dalen (hit by pitch) reach in the first at bat, but they also stranded. The home team then scored three runs on four hits in the second inning off MariŽlle Vleugels. With one out, NoŽmie Brandjes was hit by a pitch, then Annemiek de Rover and Maaike Blaauwgeers singled to load the bases. Next, Brandjes beat the throw to home on a force play-grounder by Kimberly Jones to keep the bases loaded. Anne Blaauwgeers followed with a single that scored De Rover, but also led to the elimination of her sister Maaike, who was thrown out at the plate on a strong throw by centerfielder Solange Starrenburg. Anne Vlietstra then also singled to bring in the third run, but then grounder ended the at bat. Hereafter, MariŽlle Vleugels retired the side in the third and fourth inning, allowed some more runners in the other at bats, but got fine support from her defense.


...Just before reaching the base, 3B Annemiek de Rover tags out...
...Dana Horeman in the 4th inning; Umpire Peter Vonk is on top of the play...
(© Photo: Marco Stoovelaar)
Terrasvogels got two runners again in the third inning. With one out, Meike Witteveen reached on a bunt-single, then Solange Starrenburg singled with two outs, but both were left. After this inning, Witteveen left the game out of precaution, as she still was hurt by the hit by pitch in the first game.

In the fourth inning, Terrasvogels started its comeback. Anouk van den Heuvel led off with a double, then advanced on a grounder by MariŽlle Vleugels. After Dana Horeman walked, Kate Vanderham grounded out, enabling Van den Heuvel to score, but this also led to a double play, as Horeman was tagged out, just before reaching third base.

Terrasvogels then came alongside in the fifth. Lotte Holvast led off with a single and advanced on a sac-bunt by Floor Roest (who had replaced Witteveen). After a flyout, Solange Starrenburg walked, then the two runners advanced on a wild pitch. The two then scored when Kate Gentile followed with a single to make it a 3-3 tie.

In the home of the fifth, Maxime van Dalen and Manoa Weijgertse singled with two outs. Jessie van Aalst then also singled, which led to a crucial play for Alcmaria. Van Dalen was waved home on Van Aalst's single, but then centerfielder Solange Starrenburg again showed her strong arm and threw out the rookie at home plate to end the inning.


...Floor Roest - GameWinning RBI...
(© Photo: Marco Stoovelaar)
In the top of the sixth, Terrasvogels immediately followed with a 3-run, 2-out, rally to take the lead. After two flyouts, Kate Vanderham reached on an error, then Lotte Holvast walked. Terrasvogels then took a 4-3 lead on a single by Floor Roest, which led to a pitching change. Malou van Dusschoten took over from her sister Femke, but hit MarisŤla de Wind with a pitch to load the bases. She then walked Solange Starrenburg and Kate Gentile to bring in two more runs and was relieved by Jessie van Aalst, who then ended the inning with a strikeout.

In the home of the sixth, Maaike Blaauwgeers reached on an error with two outs, but then Kimberly Jones lined out to short stop Anouk van den Heuvel. In the top of the seventh, Terrasvogels left two more runners. With one out, Dana Horeman walked and Kate Vanderham singled, but then a force out and foul-out followed.

In the bottom of the seventh, Alcmaria threatened again. Anne Blaauwgeers led off with a bunt-single, but was forced out on a nice play by 3B Dana Horeman on a grounder by Anne Vlietstra. A single by Maxime van Dalen and walk for Manoa Weijgertse then loaded the bases, but MariŽlle Vleugels then secured the win when the next batter struckout and a flyout to centerfield ended the game.

With this, Terrasvogels won their Play-Off 3-1 and now will play in its 18th Holland Series (extending its own league-record). It marks then 11th time in the last 15 seasons (and sixth of the last eight) that Terrasvogels reached the final. The last time, Terrasvogels was in the Holland Series was in 2009, when it lost to Tex Town Tigers.

(September 24)

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