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Updated: September 29, 2012
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Openers Holland Series, Promotion/Relegation split!
Nederlands
HAARLEM / OOSTERHOUT (Neth.) - It was an exciting opening day in the two series that will decide the championship and promotion or relegation from/to the Dutch big league. On Saturday, both opening series ended in a split, meaning a fourth game is needed in both.

In Haarlem, reigning champion Oolders Omaco Sparks Haarlem had to set all sails to win at least once against Alcmaria Victrix, which last week became the surprising second finalist. In the opener of the Holland Series, Alcmaria failed to add a what would become crucial third run, then lost its lead and suffered a 3-2 loss in eight innings. In Game 2, Alcmaria did hold onto the lead and won 4-3 to equal the best-of-five final.

In Oosterhout, Twins, which finished in seventh place in the big league, also needed an extra inning to win the opener of the best-of-five Promotion/Relegation Play-Offs against Centrals, the number two team of the second highest division ('overgangsklasse'). In Game 2, Centrals, which last season relegated from the big league, won 5-2 to even the series.



Oolders Omaco Sparks Haarlem vs. Alcmaria Victrix

...Kym Turnell scores the go-ahead run for Alcmaria...
...in the 6th inning of Game 1...
(© Photo: Marco Stoovelaar)
Looking to the results during the regular season of both Sparks Haarlem and Alcmaria Victrix, most expected that this years Holland Series would end in a 3-game sweep. Also because Hotel Ambassador c.c. Terrasvogels, the lone team to have beaten Sparks Haarlem in the past two seasons, was now eliminated. It was at least hoped that the games would not end in walk-overs. And that hope became more than reality after a few hours, as two very close games were played ending in a win for both teams. The day even could have ended with two victories for Alcmaria Victrix, which also played two good games a week before against Terrasvogels to reach the Holland Series. Sparks Haarlem had its hands full of the young squad from Alkmaar and needed an extra inning to win at least once today. The Series continues next Saturday in Alkmaar. If needed, a fifth game will be played on Sunday in Haarlem.

That Sparks Haarlem was off to a not-so-easy day was underscored in the first two innings of the opening game. Anne Blaauwgeers led off the first inning with a single on the fifth delivery by pitcher Dagmar Bloeming, but she stranded at second base. In the second, Jessie van Aalst also led off with a single, but was caught stealing. For Sparks, Areke Spel singled with two outs in the first and was left, then the team was retired in order in the second at bat.

But it was Sparks that opened the score in the third inning when Chantal Versluis hit a line drive homerun into straight centerfield. A single by Nathalie Gosewehr followed, but she was left behind.

Alcmaria immediately came alongside in the fourth inning. Maaike Blaauwgeers led off with a single, then advanced on a sac-bunt by Kimberly Jones and a single by Kym Turnell. Next, Jessie van Aalst also singled to bring in the tying run. But then two grounders ended the at bat, stranding two runners.

In the bottom of the fourth inning, Alcmaria-starter Femke van Dusschoten struckout two of the four batters she faced, then Dagmar Bloeming struckout two of the three batters in the top of the fifth. Sparks Haarlem then got an opportunity to break open the game in its fifth, as it got the bases loaded with no outs! Michelle van Driel led off with a double and Saskia Kosterink followed with a pinch-hit bunt-single and then stole second base. With runners on second and third base, Chantal Versluis was walked intentionally to set up a force play. Next, Nathalie Gosewehr flied out and then Femke van Dusschoten struckout both Areke Spel and Debby Connor to end the inning and leaving the bases loaded!

...Virginie Anneveld hits her walk-off single in the 8th inning...
(© Photo: Marco Stoovelaar)
This triggered the Alcmaria-offense, which then took a 2-1 lead in the sixth, but failed to add another run. Maaike Blaauwgeers led off with a single and moved on a sac-bunt by Kimberly Jones, then Kym Turnell walked. The first was then forced out at third base on a grounder by Jessie van Aalst. With runners on first and second base, Maxime van Dalen singled through the right side of the infield to bring in Turnell and give Alcmaria a 2-1 lead. Jessie van Aalst advanced to third on the single and moments later tried to score on a wild pitch. She could have had a chance to score when she would have made a sliding, but she didn't and was tagged out at the plate by pitcher Dagmar Bloeming to end the inning.

And this was a situation that gave Sparks Haarlem another boost, as it came alongside immediately, as the Alcmaria-defense started to make some misplays, just as it did while leading last week against Terrasvogels. Virginie Anneveld led off with a single and advanced on a throwing error, then scored the tying run when Karin Tuk singled to centerfield, which could have been a flyout, but instead the ball dropped in front of the centerfielder. With pinch-runner Celine van Roon at first base, Canadian Ashley Lanz took over the pitching for Femke van Dusschoten (who struckout nine), saw the runner advance on a sac-bunt by Shannah van der Kaaij, but then struckout Michelle van Driel. Saskia Kosterink followed with a groundout that ended the inning.

After both teams were retired in order in the seventh inning, the game went into extra innings. In Alcmaria's eighth at bat, Anne Blaauwgeers struckout with tie-break runner NoŽmie Brandjes on second base, who then advanced on a sac-bunt by Maaike Blaauwgeers. But she was left there, as Kimberly Jones then flied out. In the home of the eighth inning, tie-break runner Areke Spel advanced to third base on a passed ball. Hereafter, powerhitter Debby Connor was struckout for the fourth time in this game, but Virginie Anneveld followed with a walk-off single, enabling Spel to score the winning run.

In Game 2, both teams got several baserunners in the first three at bats and it was Sparks Haarlem that again opened the score. They again faced a deficit later in the game, but this time, the home team was unable to turn the game around again in its favor. Alcmaria, which again got its lead-off batter on base frequently, left a runner in the second inning, then got a scoring opportunity in the third at bat. Suzanne Meiring led off with a single and NoŽmie Brandjes reached on an error after her sac-bunt, but then a flyout, force out and another flyout followed.

In the home of the third inning, Sparks Haarlem took a 2-0 lead, which was thought to be decisive, but things changed quickly in the next innings. In the fourth, Chantal Versluis walked with one out, then Nathalie Gosewehr singled. The two then scored on a double by Saskia Kosterink, which appeared to be catchable, but instead produced two runs. Debby Connor followed with another double, but two runners were left when Virginie Anneveld fouled out and Karin Tuk struckout.

...Alcmaria celebrates the win after the 3rd out in Game 2...
(© Photo: Marco Stoovelaar)
Alcmaria got one run back in the fourth inning on a crucial play. Kym Turnell led off with a single, but then two foulouts followed. Next, Anne Vlietstra singled to bring Turnell to second base. Suzanne Meiring then singled to rightfield and while the ball was thrown to the plate for an almost sure out, Turnell was waved home. There, the Australian would have been an out, as catcher Karin Tuk (who was in touch with home plate like in a force play-situation) received the ball in time, but simply forgot to tag, meaning Turnell scored. A pop-fly ended the inning, leaving two runners behind.

In the home of the fourth, Beau van Gelder singled with two outs, but was left, then Alcmaria struck in the top of the fifth inning with three runs. Anne Blaauwgeers reached on an error and became the fourth lead-off hitter in a row to reach base. Maaike Blaauwgeers followed with a bunt-single, then the twin-sisters advanced on a sac-bunt by Kimberly Jones. With first base open Kym Turnell was walked intentionally to not only set up a force play, but also take the bat out of the hands of the powerfull batter. But with the bases now loaded, Jessie van Aalst doubled to centerfield to bring in two runs and put Alcmaria ahead, 3-2. This time, the Alkmaar-club did add an insurance run, as Maxime van Dalen followed with a single that brought in Turnell and made it 4-2. Rebecca Soumeru then took over the pitching for Kirsten Scheele and got a force play-grounder and regular grounder to end the inning.

After leaving a runner in the fifth inning, Sparks Haarlem got a run back in its sixth, but also left two runners. Karin Tuk led off with a double and was replaced by pinch-runner Silea Bos, then next batter Areke Spel walked. Hereafter, Femke van Dusschoten was brought in to take over for Ashley Lanz and she saw the runners advance on a sac-bunt by Michelle van Driel. Bos was then eliminated in a rundown on a grounder by pinch-hitter Shannah van der Kaaij, but a following passed ball enabled Spel to score. Chantal Versluis then walked and stole second base, but with runners on second and third base, the inning ended when Nathalie Gosewehr grounded out.

Alcmaria was then retired in order in the top of the seventh inning. In the bottom of the seventh, Saskia Kosterink led off with a bunt, but was eliminated by pitcher Femke van Dusschoten, who then got a grounder from Debby Connor and saw Virginie Anneveld (who also was the last batter in the first game) flyout to end the game. And so, Alcmaria won 4-3 to equal the Holland Series and force a fourth game.

During the regular season of 2011 and 2012, Alcmaria Victrix was swept both times by Sparks Haarlem, losing a total of 12 games against the Dutch champion. In the last three seasons, Sparks Haarlem lost only seven games, including six against Terrasvogels, which was the lone team to win against the Haarlem-squad in the last two seasons, until today. And so, Alcmaria became the first team to beat Sparks Haarlem, other than Terrasvogels, since July 10, 2010, when Sparks lost 2-1 to Twins. Since April 10, 2010, Terrasvogels accounted for the other victories and defeated Sparks Haarlem with scores of 1-0, 8-1, 4-3, 7-6, 10-1 and 5-0.

GAME ONE

...Jessie van Aalst connects in the 6th inning...

...and later is tagged out by Dagmar Bloeming...

...NoŽmie Brandjes and Kimberly Jones celebrate...
...an out in the 6th inning...

...Umpires Albert Tolen, Arjan de Wever and...
...Bob Gieskens discuss a situation in the 6th...

...Alcmaria-coaches Gonny Farley and...
...Frans van Dusschoten look on...

...Saskia Kosterink returned to Sparks Haarlem...
...after completion of her Italian season...

...It was a nice day to play softball...

...Game 1 needed an extra inning...

...Suzanne Meiring is ready to make contact...

...Sparks' Head Coach Juny Francisca talks with...
...his players in the eighth inning...

...Virginie Anneveld (17) is greeted by Areke Spel...
...after game-winning single...
GAME TWO

...Saskia Kosterink hits a 2-run-double...
...in the fourth inning of Game 2...

...Nathalie Gosewehr (10) and Chantal Versluis (23)...
...score on Saskia's double...

...Winning pitcher Ashley Lanz...

...Nathalie Gosewehr grounds out in the 6th...
(© All Photos: Marco Stoovelaar)
AND SOME MORE PHOTOS

...The players of Sparks Haarlem are introduced...

...Chantal Versluis is greeted after her homerun...

...Rightfielder Areke Spel makes a nice catch...

...Sparks-pitchers Dagmar Bloeming & Rebecca Soumeru...
(© All Photos: Fred Versluis)



Twins vs. Centrals

The opening game was a pitching duel between Lindsey VanderLugt (Centrals) and Megan Brown (Twins). The first struckout 18 (!) batters and gave up only four hits, the latter struckout 13 and gave up five basehits.

Centrals was productive in the first three innings. The team was off to a good start with two hits in the first inning, but left two runners. With one out, Eva Voortman singled and Andrea Lindgren followed with a bunt-single, which was followed by a throwing error by Brown, who then followed with two strikeouts. For Twins, Sandy Lauwers led off with a single and stole second base, but VanderLugt struckout three batters.

In the second inning, Centrals again registered two basehits, but failed to score. With one out, Eliza Rikkelman and Stephanie Ruiter singled, but then VanderLugt lined into a double play that ended the at bat.

Centrals left a runner on third base in the third inning, but after a lead-off walk, Megan Brown retired 13 batters in a row. After giving up the lead-off single in the first inning, Lindsey VanderLugt retired 19 batters in a row.

...Twins-pitcher Megan Brown...
(© Photo: Marco Stoovelaar)
In the seventh inning, both teams got back on base. For Centrals, Jasmin Carlson singled with one out, but then Rikkelman struckout and Carlson was caught stealing to complete a double play. In the bottom of the seventh inning, Twins got the bases loaded. Lieke Duffhues singled with one out and advanced to third base on a 2-out single by Megan Brown. But after Evelien Vonk walked to load the bases, the inning ended with a strikeout.

After Centrals left its tie-break runner behind in the top of the eighth inning, Twins scored the winning run moments later. With tie-break runner Shauni Thys on second base, Lindsey VanderLugt struckout Imane Issa Allou and Femke Duffhues. But the latter reached base when the third strike ended in a passed ball. The bases were then loaded by walking Sandy Lauwers intentionally. VanderLugt followed by striking out Kirsten Molle, but then gave up a walk-off single to Lieke Duffhues that gave Twins the win.

In Game 2, Centrals was more successful in its first at bats and scored twice to take an early lead. Lindsey VanderLugt and Megan Brown again went the distance for the two teams that play for one spot in next years big league.

In the first inning, lead-off hitter Petya Sokolova reached on a dropped fly ball and advanced to second base on the error. After a bunt ended in an out, a throwing error on a grounder by Andrea Lindgren enabled Sokolova to score the first run.

Centrals added a run in the third inning. With one out, Sokolova singled and, with two outs, stole second, then advanced on an error. Moments later, she also scored the second run when Lindgren followed with a double.

Twins got one run back in the home of the third inning. With one out, Sandy Lauwers doubled, moved to third on a grounder and scored on an infield-hit by Lieke Duffhues.

Centrals then took more distance by adding two runs in the sixth inning. Eva Voortman reached second base on a throwing error, then Andrea Lindgren walked. The two advanced on a sac-bunt by Sarah Van Der Meiren. A single by Stephanie Ruiter and squeeze sac-bunt by Jasmin Carlson then accounted for the runs and made it a 4-1 score.

Centrals increased its lead in the top of the seventh inning to 5-1. Nadia Bron led off with a single, then her pinch-runner Ashley Spanjer advanced on a single by Lindsey VanderLugt. The two moved on a grounder and then Spanjer scored on a 2-out single by Lindgren to make it 5-1.

Twins managed to add one more run in its seventh at bat when Michelle Haen reached second base on an error and scored on a grounder by Rachel van Veen, but ended up empty handed this time.

(September 29)


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