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Updated: October 28, 2014
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Copyright © 1997-2014
Grand Slam/Marco Stoovelaar
Compiled and Copyright © 1997-2014 by Marco Stoovelaar

(Story by Marco Stoovelaar; Photos by Albert Roozenburg)

Successful Slowpitch-exhibition in Almere
ALMERE (Neth.) - On Friday, October 17, a successful slowpitch softball exhibition game was staged at the site of Almere '90 in Almere. The Netherlands Men Slowpitch Team then played an 11-inning game against a team of host Almere '90. The game was played at the Fanny Blankers-Koen Sportpark in Almere, which is named after the internationally wellknown Dutch athlete Fanny Blankers-Koen (1918-2004) (nicknamed 'The Flying Housewife'), who won four Gold Medals during the Olympic Games of 1948 in London (Great Britain). In London, she won the 100m, 200m, 80m hurdles and 4x100m relay.

The Orange squad won 24-6. The Dutch Team collected 37 (!) basehits, including six by lead-off hitter EtiŽnne Meijer, who homered three times, scored four runs and had five runs batted in. Erwin Visser and Mark Visser both had five hits. The latter doubled twice and homered to bring in six runs. Michel Groenhart registered three doubles. All eleven players in the Dutch batting order scored at least once. Only one of them, Tom Groot, went without a basehit, while Pim Winkel was the lone player without an RBI.

...The Netherlands Men Slowpitch Team...

...The team of host Almere '90...
(© Photos: Albert Roozenburg)
Almere '90 hit 15 basehits, including three by Kenny Berkenbosch, who tripled and homered to bring in three runs. Robin Jansen and Joey Berkenbosch also homered for the home team.

Of the seven homeruns hit in this game, only one was actually hit over the fence, which a 3-run shot by Kenny Berkenbosch. All others were inside-the-park-homeruns.

The Dutch Team was coached by Erwin Visser, while the Almere-squad was led by Guus de Vriend and Hans Jansen de Vries.

Slowpitch Softbal is one of the sports which is being promoted since a few years by the Royal Netherlands Baseball and Softball Association (KNBSB). In 2012, the first Netherlands Coed Slowpitch Team was compiled and it played three international games against reigning European Champion Great Britain. These games were played in Haarlem, Rosmalen and Zeist.

Last year, a big slowpitch tournament was held during the World Port Baseball Tournament in Rotterdam with participation of club-teams.

This year, in July, Almere '90 organized the Windmill Classic Slowpitch Tournament, which was huge success. During that event, the Netherlands Men Slowpitch Team also participated.

In 1998, an European Coed Slowpitch Championship was held for the first time. Since then, the British squad has captured nine consecutive European titles. Next year, from July 28 through August 1, the tenth European Coed Championship will be held in Dupnitsa (Bulgaria).

Tonight's exhibition game in Almere was highlighted by several fine defensive plays. While the Dutch Team won big, it was reported that the finest defensive plays were made by Almere '90, including spectacular catches by Joey Berkenbosch, Merlijn Brink (line drive) and Daan de Vries.

Included in the Almere '90-team were former National Baseball Team-players Renť Rijst and Kenny Berkenbosch. Rijst played more than 25 years in the Dutch big league for several teams. Berkenbosch played in the Holland Series two weeks ago with L&D Amsterdam Pirates. By the way, Rijst was the lone Almere-player without a hit in this game.

Included in the Dutch Team was Tim Verbrugge, who this season also was a member of the Netherlands Men Softball Team. Also playing in the squad were former Dutch Men Softball Team-players Michel Groenhart, Pim Winkel and EtiŽnne Meijer.

The Dutch Team was off to a good start, scoring four runs in the first inning and went on to add runs in almost every inning. The only innings without runs were the second and eighth at bat. Leading 15-6, the Dutch Team rallied for nine runs in the top of the eleventh inning to make it a big score.

In the first inning, EtiŽnne Meijer led off the game with a homerun off of Robin Jansen, who went the distance for Almere '90. Next batter Michel Groenhart then reached on an error and scored on a single by Arjan Havekotte. Force play-grounders by Tim Verbrugge and Erwin Visser followed. A double by Pim Winkel brought the latter to third base, then both scored on a double by Mark Visser.

The Dutch Team added a run in the third, then Almere '90 scored its first run in the bottom half of the third. With one out, Kenny Berkenbosch singled and went on to score on a 2-out single by Daan de Vries.

In the fourth through sixth inning, the Dutch Team added six runs. In the fourth, Meijer homered again and then added a 2-run homerun in the sixth. In the fifth, three runs were scored. Tim Verbrugge then led off with a double and Erwin Visser followed with a triple to start the rally.

A lead-off homerun by Mark Visser and sacrifice fly (which led to an inning-ending double play) by Renť Veen led to two more runs in the seventh, then a sac-fly by Tom Groot produced a run in the ninth.

In the meantime, Almere '90 had added two runs of its own. In the seventh, Robin Jansen led off with a homerun and Joey Berkenbosch did the same in the next at bat.

In the tenth inning, a double by Michel Groenhart lifted the score to 15-3, then Almere answered with three runs in the bottom of the tenth. With one out, Cor Nansink and Edwin Pieneman singled. Then, with two outs, Kenny Berkenbosch accounted for the big hit of the night, a 3-run homerun which actually went over the fence.

In the eleventh inning, the Dutch Team rallied for nine more runs, but only the first run was earned. Tim Verbrugge and Erwin Visser started the rally with a single, then the first scored on an one-out sac-fly by Mark Visser. An error on a fly by Tom Groot then would have been the third out, but instead led to another runner. Hereafter, eight more runs were added. EtiŽnne Meijer (single), Michel Groenhart (double) and Tim Verbrugge (single) had 2-run basehits in this inning. Verbrugge singled twice in this at bat.

After the exhibition game, which was a fine promotion for Slowpitch Softball, a barbecue closed the evening.

Box Score

(October 28)

...Tim Verbrugge reaches first base...
...1B is Renť Rijst, Umpire is Eric van Wordragen

...Daan de Vries hitting for Almere '90...
...At left are Catcher Arjan Havekotte & Umpire Jimmy Martin...

...An overview of the field...

...The spectators look on...

...Pitchers Erwin Visser (left) and Robin Jansen...

...Almere's 1B Renť Rijst makes a nice play retiring batter Arjan Havekotte...

...And here, Almere's SS Joey Berkenbosch makes a spectacular catch of a line drive; at left is 3B Merlijn Brink...

...Michel Groenhart hitting for the Dutch Team...
...Umpire Jimmy Martin & Catcher Cor Nansink look on...

...Kenny Berkenbosch (bottom) hits a 3-run homerun...
...for Almere in the 10th inning...

...Tim Verbrugge scores in the 11th inning...
...Cor Nansink is the catcher...

...A barbecue closed the night...

...The two teams, umpires and organisors together on the photo...
(© All Photos: Albert Roozenburg)

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