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Updated: October 8, 2019
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Copyright © 1997-2019
Grand Slam/Marco Stoovelaar
Compiled and Copyright © 1997-2019 by Marco Stoovelaar

(Story by Marco Stoovelaar; Photos by SDTV & Marco Stoovelaar)

Roef! captures first Championship-title; First Brabant-team in 25 years

HAARLEM (Neth.) - Roef! is Softball-champion of the Netherlands for the first time in club-history. In the best-of-three Holland Series, the team from Moergestel faced defending champion FysioExpert Olympia Haarlem, which captured the title in the previous two seasons. On Monday-evening (October 7), in Game 3, Roef! came from behind and won 3-1 in eight innings in a game that had a rare interruption.

...Here you can see the highlights of Game 3...
...provided by SDTV...
Olympia Haarlem opened the score in the third inning on a double by Jessie van Aalst, who before the game was crowned as this season's Most Valuable Player of the Golden League. She doubled off of Rachael Knapp, who won the Award for Best Pitcher of the 2019 season.

Roef! came alongside in the sixth inning when Wies Ligtvoet singled and later scored on an error. In the top of the eighth inning, Ligtvoet tripled to bring in the go-ahead run, then scored an insurance run herself moments later. Afterwards, she was named MVP of the Holland Series.

In the bottom of the eighth, Roef! 2B Cindy van der Zanden made a great game-saving play, making a diving catch on a line drive, then doubled up the tie-break runner. But with two outs and one strike on next batter Dinet Oosting, the lights suddenly turned black and a delay followed. Luckily, it didn't take long for the lights to return to full capacity, but when the light failure could not have been solved, everyone had to return on Tuesday-evening for maybe one pitch! After a 22-minute delay, the game resumed. Six pitches and two minutes later, the game ended with a groundout.

The Holland Series opened on Saturday with an unscheduled double-header during the Season Finals, which this year was organized at the site of Onze Gezellen in Haarlem. Initially, only Game 1 was scheduled to be played. However, due to inclement weather conditions expected on Sunday, it was decided to move Game 2 from Sunday to Saturday to create a possibility of having a champion with a 2-game sweep. Olympia Haarlem won the opener with a 4-1 score, but then Roef! came back with a 7-0 shutout to force a third game.

The third game was scheduled for Sunday (as was planned), but rained out and was re-scheduled for tonight.

By capturing the Championship-title, Roef! also qualified for participation in the European Premiere Cup-tournament of next year. Olympia Haarlem then will play in the European Cup Winners Cup-tournament.

(October 7)

...The players and coaches of Roef! celebrate the Championship-title...
...Back: Sophie Verdaasdonk (with trophy), Evert Versloot (Coach), Jeroen Swers (Head Coach)...
...& Nathan van der Reijden (Coach)...
...Center: Elizabeth Snow, Eva van Knegsel, Noa Armirotto, Céline Janssens, Isa Los,...
...Cindy van der Zanden, Amy Udink, Rachael Knapp & Pietro Campesato (Coach)...
...Front: Marjolein Merkx, Wies Ligtvoet, Logan Moreland, Kim Donkers & Judith van den Berg...
(© Photo: Screenshot SDTV / Marco Stoovelaar)

Most Championship-titles, Clubs
11Sparks Haarlem
2Olympia Haarlem
2Tex Town Tigers
Holland Series Stats & Facts

For Roef!, the title is its first in club-history, which was accomplished in only its third season in the Dutch big league. In 2015, Roef! finishes in third place in the Silver League and qualified for the Promotion Pool, then finished in second place. The following year, Roef! closed the regular season in the second highest league in second place, then finished in a tie for first place in the Promotion Pool. After having lost a tie-breaker against UVV, Roef! went on to play in the Golden League/Silver League Promotion/Relegation Play-Off, while UVV qualified for the GL/SL Promotion/Relegation Final. Roef! won the best-of-one against Twins Oosterhout, then faced UVV in the Final. With a 7-0 shutout-win, Roef! defeated UVV and promoted to the Golden League.

Roef! made its debut in the highest league in 2017. In its first season in the Golden League, the team qualified for the Play-Offs, but then was eliminated. Last year, Roef! again reached the Play-Offs and again was eliminated. This year, Roef! finished in first place in the regular season to reach the Play-Offs in its third consecutive year. The team again joined Olympia Haarlem, Sparks Haarlem and Terrasvogels, as they did in the previous two years. In the following Play-Off Qualification Round to determine the pairings for the Play-Offs, Roef! also ended up in first place. Roef! then lost its best-of-three, 2-1, against Olympia Haarlem, which therefore moved to the Holland Series. A week later, Roef! faced Terrasvogels in the best-of-three Backdoor Play-Off. Roef! trailed in both the first and second game against Terrasvogels, but was able to turn these games around. Roef! recorded two one-run victories (the second one in ten innings) to reach the Holland Series.

Tonight, Roef! became the 68th softball-champion in history in the Netherlands. The first champion was crowned in 1952. Back then, the title was won by Haarlem-based HHC, the predecessor of the current Sparks Haarlem.

The most titles have been won by Terrasvogels (15), but when HHC (12) and Sparks Haarlem (11) are combined, it leads with 23. Terrasvogels and Sparks Haarlem are the only two clubs in history with 10 or more championships.

Most Championship-titles, Cities
1The Hague
It marks only the second time in history that the Championship-title is won by a team from the province of Noord-Brabant. The only other team to do so was Twins in 1994. After 25 years, Roef! is now the second team to win the title.

Roef! is the seventh team from outside the Haarlem-area to be crowned champion. It is the 15th title won by a team from outside the Haarlem-area, including nine won by Bussum-based HCAW.

The most titles (36) have been won by a Haarlem-based club. When nearby Santpoort, Bloemendaal and Heemstede are included, the total championships by teams from the Haarlem-area is 53. With 36th titles, Haarlem is most successful softball-city in the country. The most successful baseball-city is Amsterdam with 34 titles. Last month, L&D Amsterdam Pirates dethroned defending champion Curaçao Neptunus, winning the best-of-seven Holland Series, 4-3. Pirates lost the first three games, then did something no team has done before, winning the next four games.

For Roef!, this was its first participation in a Holland Series. For Olympia Haarlem, this was its fourth participation in the Championship Series. Terrasvogels is the recordholder with 22 participations.

In total, eleven different clubs (or nine when HHC/Sparks Haarlem and DSC '74/Olympia Haarlem are combined) participated in a Holland Series.

Roef! Head Coach Jeroen Swers became the first Belgian coach to lead a team to the Dutch Championship-title. Overall, he became the sixth foreign coach to win the title. The others are Americans Craig Montvidas (1985-HCAW, 1987-HCAW, 1994-Twins), Darwin Tolzin (2007-Terrasvogels), Monti Van Brunt (2008-Tex Town Tigers) and Kaleo Eldredge (2009-Tex Town Tigers) and New Zealander Stanley Doney (2017-Olympia Haarlem, 2018-Olympia Haarlem).

This was the 34th Holland Series. In 1982, for the first time, the Championship was decided via a postseason. Before that, the winner of the regular season also won the Championship-title. In 1982, the page-system was used. The two Play-Offs and the Backdoor all were best-of-ones, followed by a best-of-three Holland Series, which was won by Terrasvogels.

A year later, the page-system was used again. The best-of-one was no success. To create more suspense, no best-of-ones were played anymore. Instead, the Play-Offs, Backdoor and Holland Series all became a best-of-three series, as was the case in 1984.

Most Championship-titles, Head Coaches
TitlesHead CoachClub(s)
6Hans JanssenDSS (3), Terrasvogels (3)
4Teun van den BergTerrasvogels
4Ruud ElfersHCAW
3Juni FranciscaSparks Haarlem
3Johan KluijskensSparks Haarlem
3Craig MontvidasHCAW (2), Twins (1)
3Rob WalgienTerrasvogels (2), DSC '74 (1)
2Peter van DalenSparks Haarlem
2Stanley DoneyOlympia Haarlem
2Ton HendriksSparks Haarlem
2Paula van der MarkHHC
2Don WedmanTerrasvogels
2Toon VerzijlbergDSS
For 1985, it was decided that the season-winner again became the champion. This also was to be the rule for 1986, but then Terrasvogels and Bloemendaal ended in a tie. It was opted that these teams were to play a best-of-three to decide the championship and that's what happened, but this is no official Holland Series.

In 1987, the Play-Off/Holland Series-format returned with best-of-three series, as was done in 1988.

There was no postseason in 1989 and in 1990 another new format was introduced. The season was split in two halves and the winners of these halves met each other in a best-of five Holland Series. Problem with this format was that when the winner of both halve was the same team that would be the champion and there would have been no Holland Series.

In 1991-1994, the Play-Offs expanded. There were best-of-three series after completion of the both the first and second half to create more suspense. Also, the Holland Series was expanded from a best-of-three to a best-of-five from 1992 on, also to create more competitiveness. It also gave a team the possibility to come back in a series and turn it its way.

In 1995, the Play-Offs returned to be played only after completion of the regular season, which was not split in two halves anymore. In the new set-up, the season-winner met the number 4 in the ranking, while the other best-of-three Play-Off was played between the numbers 2 and 3 of the season. The winners then met in a best-of-five Holland Series.

This format was kept in place through 2000, in 1998 it was even expanded with extra best-of-three Play-Offs with a total of eight teams. The same format was used from 2001 on, but the Play-Offs then also were expanded to a best-of-five, again to create more suspense. The format of a best-of-five Play-Offs and Holland Series was used through 2011 and that resulted in several very attactive series.

Most Holland Series-participations
18Sparks Haarlem
4Olympia Haarlem
3Tex Town Tigers
1Alcmaria Victrix, DSC '74,
DSS, Roef!
In 2012, the page-system returned, the Play-Offs again became a best-of-three, but the Holland Series remained a best-of-five. And that has been the case since then.

In 2015, it was decided to create a new format. In this new set-up, all deciding series in the highest division (three Play-Off series and the Holland Series) were limited to a best-of-one only. Also, all deciding games were to be played in one weekend on a neutral site. Not everyone was in favor of this set-up. Not only in reducing the most important moment of a season to only one game, but also to play them at another site, instead of the home-site of a team.

In 2015, the winner of the regular season automatically qualified for the Final-weekend, while the other three had to play an additional Play-Off Round to decide the ranking and with that, the match-ups in the Play-Off Series. This Play-Off Round also was played at one location, which in 2015 was the site of Almere '90 in Almere. Also in 2015, the first games of the Promotion/Relegation Series were played at one site, which was the site of Gryphons in Rosmalen.

A year later, the unsuccessful additional Play-Off Round was dropped again, as was the First Round of the Promotion/Relegation Series. Instead, the top-4 of the regular season in the highest division faced each other once in a Play-Off Series, with the number one reaching the Holland Series and the team in last place being eliminated for the Finals. The Play-Off Series was played at the sites of the two best teams of the regular season. The Promotion/Relegation Series were played in its entirety duing the Season Finals.

In 2017 and 2018, the two best teams of the Play-Offs qualify for the Holland Series. As it was realized that a best-of-one was not a satisfying ending of the season, the Finale became a best-of-three again in 2017.

Most Postseason-participations
27Sparks Haarlem
8Olympia Haarlem
7Bloemendaal, Tex Town Tigers
5Amsterdam Pirates
4DSC '74, DSS, HHC
3Alcmaria Victrix, Roef!
This year, despite an unsuccessful introduction in 2015, the top-four had to play an additional Qualification Round after completion of the regular season to determine the pairing of teams for the following Play-Offs. However, after three weeks of playing, the final standing of the Qualification Round was the same as in the regular season. The Play-Offs was played again via the page-system this year. The two best teams met and the winner advanced to the Holland Series. The losing team then met the winner of the best-of-three between the third and fourth best teams in the backdoor series to determine the second finalist.

Since 1982, a Play-Off Round was on the schedule 33 times. Terrasvogels participated in 32 of these Play-Offs, which is the record. Since 1997, the team qualified for the Play-Offs annually after having missed its lone Play-Off in 1996. Sparks Haarlem reached the postseason annually since 1994 and has now played in 27. Olympia Haarlem played in the postseason for the eighth time since 2011 and annually since 2013. Roef! played in its third postseason.

In 2015, Hoofddorp Pioniers hosted the first 'Season Finals Weekend'. In 2016, all games were played at the site of Sparks Haarlem and in 2017, Roef! was the host of the Finals in Moergestel. Last year, the games were played at the site of Olympia Haarlem in Haarlem. This year, Haarlem-based club Onze Gezellen hosted the Season Finals Weekend, which was plagued by bad weather conditions.

The last five Holland Series all ended in a sweep (including two best-of-ones). The last non-sweep was done Terrasvogels winning an suspenseful best-of-five (3-2) against Sparks Haarlem in 2013.

Tonight was the tenth extra-inning game in Holland Series, but only the second to finish with a run-difference of more than one. The first to do so was Terrasvogels, which won 9-2 in eight innings against Sparks Haarlem in Game 2 of their best-of-five in 2007. It was the third extra-inning game in which the winning team won the Championship-title. The last time was in 2016 when Sparks Haarlem won 1-0 in eight innings against Terrasvogels in what then was only a best-of-one.

Roef! had only one player on its roster with Holland Series-experience, being Cindy van der Zanden, who played in the Final in 2015 and 2016 when she was with Sparks Haarlem. Twelve players played in the first Holland Series of their career, being Kim Donkers, Céline Janssens, Rachael Knapp, Eva van Knegsel, Wies Ligtvoet, Isa Los, Marjolein Merkx, Logan Moreland, Elizabeth Snow, Amy Udink, Sophie Verdaasdonk (all Roef!) and Sarah Edwards (Olympia Haarlem).

Two umpires also made their Holland Series-debut, being Martin Lemstra (Game 1) and Britt Nielandt (Game 2), who became the first Belgian umpire to officiate in the Holland Series. Two official scorers also were active in their first Holland Series, being Jeanette van Drunen (Game 1 and 3) and Karin Pieneman (Game 2).

Game 3 - FysioExpert Olympia Haarlem vs. Roef!

It is only because of the extremely hard work of the grounds crew of Onze Gezellen that it was even possible to play the Holland Series since Saturday. A week ago, it started raining and it rained almost daily since then. That resulted in multiple rainouts and games being re-scheduled for the next day throughout the week in order to come to the qualification of teams for the Season Finals Weekend, which was to start at Friday-evening. Due to re-scheduling, Friday's game and two games on Saturday had to be dropped from the schedule and only two Holland Series-games were played. After non-Season Finals make-up games were able to be played on Saturday, a tie-breaker game was needed to determine the last team for the Season Finals. Besides that, Centrals withdraw its team from the Silver League on Friday, which led to the cancellation of the best-of-three Silver League/First Division Promotion/Relegation Play-Off, which was part of the Season Finals. On Sunday, all scheduled games rained out, including Game 3 of the Holland Series.

The best-of-three Golden League/Silver League Promotion/Relegation Play-Off, which also is part of the Season Finals, has been moved to coming weekend. All games will be played at the site of Onze Gezellen, the host of the Season Finals. Amsterdam Pirates is one of the teams and awaits the result of the tie-breaker between DSS and Twins Oosterhout, which is scheduled to be played on Tuesday-evening in Bussum at the site of HCAW.

It also was an option to move the third and deciding game of the Holland Series to coming weekend, but both teams opted to play on Monday-evening instead. It was reported that both teams would be incomplete coming weekend, as most foreign players then would have returned home. Also, since last weekend was the final of this season, some players also had some vacations planned.

The third game was exciting and attractive from beginning till the end. It was a pitching-duel between Rachael Knapp (Roef!) and Alyson Spinas-Valainis (Olympia Haarlem) and there were several nice plays.

It was Roef! that got into scoring position first in the second inning. With one out, Sophie Verdaasdonk and Cindy van der Zanden both singled. They advanced when Isa Los flied out, but stranded on second and third base.

In the bottom of the second inning, Olympia Haarlem got its first runner in scoring position. With one out, Mariëlle Vleugels walked and moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Sarah Edwards, but also was left behind.

...Wies Ligtvoet hits her game-deciding triple in the 8th inning...
(© Photo: Screenshot SDTV / Marco Stoovelaar)
After Roef! stranded a runner on first base in the third inning, Olympia opened the score in its third at bat. With two outs, Brenda Beers (the MVP of last years Holland Series) reached on a bunt-single. That set up a confrontation between Rachael Knapp and Jessie van Aalst, who before the game were crowned as Best Pitcher and Most Valuable Player of this years season in the Golden League. Van Aalst connected on the first pitch and drilled the ball into left-centerfield for a runscoring double. She moved to third base on a single by Dinet Oosting. But Knapp then closed with a strikeout, meaning runners stranded on first and third base.

In the top of the fourth, Elizabeth Snow led off with a single for Roef!, but her pinch-runner Céline Janssens was eliminated in a double play on a grounder by Sophie Verdaasdonk. Hereafter, the inning ended with a nice play from short stop Shareday Christina on a hard grounder by Cindy van der Zanden.

Olympia-starter Alyson Spinas then had a strong fifth inning, retiring the side, including two strikeouts.

In the bottom of the fifth, Olympia Haarlem got a chance to add another run. With two outs, Jessie van Aalst walked and Dinet Oosting doubled. Next batter Virginie Anneveld then hit a hard comebacker, which hit pitcher Rachael Knapp and changed direction to short stop Logan Moreland, who then eliminated the batter. When the ball would not have hit Knapp, it would have gone through the middle for basehit, scoring at least one runner.

Moments later, Roef! came alongside in the top of the sixth. Wies Ligtvoet led off with an infield-hit, then advanced on a wild pitch and a sacrifice bunt by Kim Donkers. Ligtvoet scored the tying run when a grounder by Logan Moreland ended in an error. The latter moved into scoring position on a grounder by Elizabeth Snow, who was eliminated on a nice play by 3B Virginie Anneveld. Moreland stranded on second base.

In the top of the seventh inning, Cindy van der Zanden led off with a single, but was caught stealing. Hereafter, Alyson Spinas closed with two strikeouts.

Rachael Knapp retired the Olympia-side in the sixth and seventh inning, meaning the game went into extra-innings.

...2B Cindy van der Zanden makes her game-saving...
...double play-catch in the 8th inning...
(© Photo: Screenshot SDTV / Marco Stoovelaar)
In the top of the eighth, Roef! struck with two runs. Tie-break runner Rachael Knapp advanced to third base when Eva van Knegsel (who retires after this season) flied out. She then scored when speedy Wies Ligtvoet drilled the ball into deep centerfield for a triple. That led to a pitching change. Ilona Andringa took over, began with a strikeout, but then gave up a double to Logan Moreland, which enabled Ligtvoet to score an insurance run. Next batter Elizabeth Snow walked, but a pop-fly ended the at bat.

In the bottom of the eighth, Brenda Beers was the tie-break runner on second base when Jessie van Aalst hit a line drive through the middle for what appeared to a runscoring single. However, 2B Cindy van der Zanden made a great diving catch, stretching her body in the air. After landing on the ground, she touched second base for an unassisted double play. Initially, she touched the base with her wrong hand, but quickly changed to the one containing the ball to complete the double play, as Beers had left on contact and was halfway towards third base.

With two outs, next batter Dinet Oosting fouled off the first pitch, then suddenly, everything went black. There was a loud noise and all lighttowers went off. Normally, it takes at least 30 minutes for lighttowers to warm up again to get back on strength. There was a brief moment that this could be a bigger malfuction and that the lighttowers might to return to power again tonight. If that would have been the case, everyone had to come back on Tuesday-evening for maybe only one pitch! The only lights that stayed on were those on the scoreboard and in the scorebox. Luckily, the lighttowers were able to return to power quickly. And so, the game resumed after a delay of only 22 minutes. Six pitches and two minutes later, the game ended when Dinet Oosting hit a comebacker to winning pitcher Rachael Knapp.

For Roef!, it was time to celebrate its first Championship-title!

...The lights suddenly went out in the 8th inning...
(© Photo: Marco Stoovelaar)

FysioExpert Olympia Haarlem - Roef! 1-3 (8 inn.)
FysioExpert Olympia Haarlem00100000-151
pitchers Roef!inn.SOBBHRER
Marjolein Merkx- (*)-----

Rachael Knapp, W (2-1)852511
(*) - Merkx was announced as starting pitcher, but was replaced when bottom 1st inning began

pitchers Olympia Haarleminn.SOBBHRER
Alyson Spinas-Valainis, L (1-1)7.18-732

Ilona Andringa0.2111--

Box Score
Final Standings
Team Rosters
Umpires: HP-Gerrit-Jan van der Hoeven, 1B-Patrick Reus, 3B-Arjan de Wever.
Official Scorer-Jeanette van Drunen.
Play-by-Play Scorer-Marco Stoovelaar.
Technical Commissioner-Wout Isbouts.
Public Address Announcer-Huub Nelissen.
Scoreboard Operator-Jan Kroft (Onze Gezellen).
Starting Time-7:59 PM.
Time Played-2:12 hrs.
Site-Van der Aart Sportpark, Haarlem (site Onze Gezellen).

Game Notes:
Game 3, best-of-three Holland Series; Roef! wins Series 2-1 and is Dutch champion.
22-minute delay due to light failures in the bottom 8th with Roef! leading 3-1, two outs, no baserunners and an 0-1 count on the batter.
34th Holland Series.
First Holland Series between Roef! and Olympia Haarlem.
Fourth Holland Series-participation for Olympia Haarlem, first for Roef!.
Roef! wins first title in club-history.
Roef! qualifies for participation in the European Premiere Cup 2020.
Olympia Haarlem qualifies for participation in the European Cup Winners Cup 2020.
Wies Ligtvoet (Roef!) named Most Valuable Player of the Holland Series.
Weather conditions at game time: Overcast, 10,8° C (51,4° F); wind direction south-southeast;
wind speed 26 kmh (16,2 mph); wind force 3 Bft; humidity 88%.

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