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Updated: July 1, 2021
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Copyright © 1997-2021
Grand Slam/Marco Stoovelaar
Compiled and Copyright © 1997-2021 by Marco Stoovelaar

(Story by Marco Stoovelaar; Photos by Fred Versluis & Henk Seppen)

Netherlands Softball Team opens Play-Offs European Championship with loss vs. Italy

CASTIONS DI STRADA (Italy) - The Netherlands Women's Softball Team won 12-2 against Russia on Thursday-morning (July 1) to close the Second Round of the 22nd edition of the European Championship Women's Softball in Italy. With that, the team remained unbeaten after six games and finished in first place of Group F with a 3-0 record. The Netherlands already secured first place by winning twice on Wednesday. On Thursday-evening, the Orange Team played its first game in Group X, which is the Play-Off Round. In this game, the Netherlands met defending champion Italy, which won Group E to also stay unbeaten. Up to this moment, the Netherlands and Italy were the only two teams that were unbeaten. In the evening, the Italian Team nipped the Orange Team, 2-1.

The final ranking in Group E was decided today. After the results on Wednesday, several changes in the ranking and/or ties were still possible. The four teams in this Group all played at 12:30 PM. Italy met Germany in Castions di Strada following the Netherlands vs. Russia game. In Ronchi dei Legionari, Spain played against the Czech Republic. Although Italy already had secured a spot in Group X, it was not yet decided whether the team would finish in first, second or even third place. In case, Germany would win against Italy with a big score and the Czech would win against Spain, this would create a 3-way tie, while Spain would be eliminated. But Italy recorded a comfortable 10-0 mercy-rule win to finish in first place. A 3-way tie was still possible for the other three teams, as the game in Ronchi needed an extra inning. When the Czechs would win, the team would end up in second place and Spain would have been eliminated. However, Spain nipped the Czechs 1-0 in eight innings with the lone run being scored on a passed ball. This created a 3-way tie and as the head-to-head results also led to a tie, the runs scored and given up became decisive in the Team Quality Balance. With that, the Czechs finished second, Spain finished third and Germany ended up in fourth place and was eliminated. Germany now will play for seventh and eighth place on Saturday against Russia, the number four of Group F. The three best teams in Group E and F form Group X (Play-Off Round). These six teams also qualified for the Super6, which will be organized again next year.

On Friday, the Netherlands Team will play two games for the third consecutive day to close the Play-Off Round. This time, both games will be played in Ronchi dei Legionari. At 12:30 PM, the opponent will Spain and at 5:30 PM, the Orange Team plays against the Czech Republic. The teams in first and second place in Group X will qualify for the Final on Saturday-evening.

The Orange Team opened the tournament on Sunday-morning with a 16-0, mercy-rule, shutout against Austria. On Monday-evening, the team recorded a 9-6 victory in what was an unpexted suspenseful and close game against Germany, then closed the First Round on Tuesday with a 16-0 win against Lithuania. On Tuesday, the Netherlands opened the Second Round with an 8-1 win against France, then won 9-0 against Israel later in the day.

Besides winning the European title, there are several other qualifications at stake in this year's tournament. As mentioned, the six best teams will qualify for the second edition of the Super6, which will be organized again next year. The European champion also will qualify for participation in the 2022 World Games and the three best teams will qualify for the 2023 WBSC Women's World Cup.

(July 1)

Other scores of Day 5:
1st through 8th place (Second Round):
Group E: Spain vs. Czech Republic 1-0 (8 inn.); Italy vs. Germany 10-0 (4 inn.).
Group F: Israel vs. France 7-0 (4½ inn.).

9th through 17th place (Second Round):
Group G: Ukraine vs. Hungary 7-0; Poland vs. Ukraine 1-0; Lithuania vs. Denmark 2-20 (5 inn.).
Group H: Bulgaria vs. Slovakia 5-7; Austria vs. Croatia 0-1.

1st through 6th place (Play-Off Round):
Group X: Czech Republic vs. Israel 3-1; Spain vs. France 8-1 (6 inn.).

Netherlands vs. Russia
...Lisa Hop...
...complete game...
(© Photo: Fred Versluis)
The Netherlands closed the Second Round with a convincing 12-2 win against Russia. The team collected nine basehits, but also got nine batters to reach base on a walk.

The Orange Team decided the game early with a 6-run rally in the top of the first inning off of starter Mayya Shalvadze. Britt Vonk led off with a walk, then stole second base while Brenda Beers struckout. Hereafter, the bases got loaded when Wies Ligtvoet and Maxime van Dalen also walked. Cindy van der Zanden followed with the first basehit of the game, which was a 2-run single. Vonk and Ligtvoet scored, but Van Dalen was eliminated in a rundown between second and third base. After Van der Zanden had advanced on a wild pitch, MariŽlle Vleugels walked and both scored when Dinet Oosting followed with a triple. Next, it was Laura Wissink, who walked and this time, Annemiek Jansen followed with a 2-run double. And that lifted the early lead to 6-0. The Netherlands got the bases loaded again when Britt Vonk and Brenda Beers also walked. But this time, a flyout ended the at bat in which seven batters walked.

The Netherlands added three runs in the second inning o four doubles. Maxime van Dalen led off with a double and scored on an one-out double by MariŽlle Vleugels. With two outs, Laura Wissink and Annemiek Jansen connected for back-to-back RBI-doubles to make it a 9-0 score.

After the double by Jansen, Iuliia Grib took over the pitching. She closed the second inning by striking out pinch-hitter Lizzie Clarijs, who batted for Britt Vonk. The righthander then held the Orange Team scoreless in the third inning and this time, she struckout Brenda Beers and Wies Ligtvoet.

But in the top of the fourth inning, three more runs were scored with two outs. MariŽlle Vleugels led off with a single, then her pinch-runner Suka Van Gurp stole second base and next batter Dinet Oosting walked. Reliever Iuliia Grib then struckout powerhitter Laura Wissink and saw Annemiek Jansen flyout. With two outs, Britt Vonk re-entered as pinch-hitter. The lefthanded hitter connected well and hit a 3-run homerun, which lifted the lead to 12-0.

Lisa Hop went the distance for the Netherlands. In the bottom of the first inning, the righthander gave up a lead-off single to Tatiana Zhuchkova, but she was forced out and a double play ended the first Russian at bat.

In the second inning, it was Milana Kozhina, who singled for Russia with one out. She also was forced out and this time, Hop closed with a strikeout.

Russia was then retired in order in the third inning, but was able to score twice in the fourth. Veteran player Daria Semenova led off with a single and Marina Barysheva followed with a double. With one out, both scored on a single by Milana Kozhina. But that was to be it. As the 10-run difference remained intact, the game ended after four complete innings via the mercy-rule.

Russia - Netherlands 2-12 (4 inn.)
Netherlands6303 -1290
Russia0002 -250
pitcher Netherlandsinn.SOBBHRER
Lisa Hop, W (3-0)41-522

pitchers Russiainn.SOBBHRER
Mayya Shalvadze, L (0-2)1.217799

Iuliia Grib2.142233

Homerun: Netherlands: Britt Vonk (1)(4th,3-run,2 outs,off Grib).
Box Score
HP-Galip SŲnmez (Germany), 1B-Franck Lautier (France), 3B-Nikolay Pilev (Bulgaria).
Official Scorer-Luciano Luciani (Italy).
Play-by-Play Scorer-Mario Fedele (Italy).
Technical Commissioner-Gabriele Hardinger (Austria).
Starting Time-10:00 AM.
Time Played-1:45 hrs.
Site-Campo da Softball, Castions di Strada (Italy) (site Softball Club Castionese).

Game Notes:
649th international game of the Netherlands Women's Softball Team.
21st game in history between the Netherlands and Russia.
18th victory in history of the Netherlands against Russia.
Weather conditions at game time:
Partly cloudy, 28° C (82,4° F); wind direction northeast; wind speed 11 kmh (6,8 mph); wind force 2 Bft; humidity 49%.

Netherlands vs. Italy
Last week, during their final preparations for the European Championship, the Netherlands and Italy met in an exhibition game, which was won by the Orange Team with a 7-3 score.

...Maxime van Dalen...
(© Photo: Fred Versluis)
The last time that the two European arch-rivals met in an official game was during the WBSC Europe/Africa Olympic Qualifier in 2019 in Vleuten (Netherlands). Back then, the Netherlands took an early 4-0 lead off of veteran Italian pitching-ace Greta Cecchetti in the first inning. The Italian team then got one run back in its first at bat, added four runs in the second and went on to win 7-4 to qualify for the Olympic Games. A few weeks earlier, the team also had captured the European title.

Those successes were accomplished under the leadership of the beloved Head Coach Enrico Obletter, who also would lead the team during the Olympic Games in Japan last year. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), the Olympic Games were postponed to this year. Sadly enough, Enrico passed away in February at the much too young age of 61 due to complications related to the coronavrius. Enrico was succeeded by his assistant Federico Pizzolini. Enrico's wife Giovanna Palermi remained with the team as one of the coaches.

Tonight, Greta Cecchetti also was the starter and again, she faced an early deficit, but this time, she gave up only one run in the first inning. Britt Vonk led off with a double, advanced to third base on a grounder by Brenda Beers and scored on a 2-out double by Maxime van Dalen.

Italy came alongside immediately in its first at bat off of Ginger de Weert. She walked lead-off batter Brittany Abacherli, then gave up a single to Andrea Howard. As a throwing error followed, Abacherli ended up on third base. She then scored the tying run while Howard was forced out on a grounder by Emily Carosone.

Both teams reached base again in the second inning, but the Italians came closest to scoring. In the top of the second inning, Greta Cecchetti struckout the first two batters, then gave up a single to Laura Wissink, but she stranded on first base. In the bottom of the second, with one out, Giulia Longhi reached on an error, then Elisa Cecchetti followed with a double. But with runners on second and third base, two pop-flies ended the at bat.

The third inning also remained scoreless, although both teams again got on base. This time, it was the Orange Team that got into scoring position. Britt Vonk led off with a walk and moved to second base via a sacrifice bunt by Brenda Beers, then advanced to third base when Jessie van Aalst grounded out. Next batter Maxime van Dalen walked, but then was forced out. With one out in the bottom of the third, Emily Carosone delivered the third Italian basehit, but was forced out on a grounder by Erika Piancastelli, who was left behind on first base.

...Greta Cecchetti...
...winning pitcher...
(© Photo: Henk Seppen)
In the fourth inning, both teams got into scoring position, but it was the Italian squad that was able to score. In the top of the fourth, Dinet Oosting doubled with one out for the Netherlands, but a double play followed. Laura Wissink struckout, while Oosting took off to steal, but she was eliminated at third base, which ended the Orange at bat.

The Italian team was more successful in its fourth at bat. Andrea Filler led off with a triple, then scored the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly by Giulia Longhi. With two outs, Marjolein Merkx took over the Orange-pitching. She was greeted with a double by Giulia Koutsoyanopulos, but the closed with a strikeout.

After the Netherlands was retired in order in the top of the fifth, the Azzurri got the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth. With one out, Emily Carosone was hit by a pitch and Erika Piancastelli walked. Carosone's pinch-runner Elisa Grifagno and Piancastelli advanced on a grounder by Amanda Fama. With two runners in scoring position and first base open, Andrea Filler was walked intentionally to set up a force play. The force play didn't come. Instead, Giulia Longhi flied out, which ended the at bat and so, the three runners were left behind.

The Orange offense was retired in order again in the top of the sixth, then the home-team reached base in its sixth consecutive at bat. With two outs, pinch-hitter Beatrice Ricchi singled. Lindsey Meadows was then inserted as new pitcher and she got an inning-ending flyout.

In the top of the seventh, the Netherlands got a big chance to do some scoring at to at least come alongside. However, instead, three runners were left behind. MariŽlle Vleugels led off with a single, then her pinch-runner Lisa Hop moved into scoring position when next batter Dinet Oosting also singled. That led to a pitching change, as Ilaria Cacciamani was inserted and had to face Laura Wissink. As there was no room to put her on base with an intentional walk, she had to pitch to the powerhitter, but then a crucial moment followed. Hop and Oosting tried to advance on a wild pitch, but the first was eliminated at third base. With one out and Oosting at second base, Wissink walked. The Netherlands then got the bases loaded when Wies Ligtvoet singled. That brought Britt Vonk in the batter's box, but Cacciamani struckout the all-time leader in games played for the National Team. The reliever then also stuckout Brenda Beers to end the game.

Italy - Netherlands 2-1
pitchers Netherlandsinn.SOBBHRER
Ginger de Weert, L (1-1)3.211421

Marjolein Merkx2222--

Lindsey Meadows0.1-----

pitchers Italyinn.SOBBHRER
Greta Cecchetti, W (3-0)6 (*)62611

Ilaria Cacciamani, SV (1)1211--

(*) - Cecchetti pitched to two batters in the seventh inning.

Box Score
HP-Jens Jakobsen (Denmark), 1B-Galip SŲnmez (Germany), 3B-Franck Lautier (France).
Official Scorer-Tamara Cossar (Italy).
Play-by-Play Scorer-Mario Fedele (Italy).
Technical Commissioner-Gabriele Hardinger (Austria).
Starting Time-8:06 PM.
Time Played-2:29 hrs.
Site-Campo da Softball, Castions di Strada (Italy) (site Softball Club Castionese).

Game Notes:
650th international game of the Netherlands Women's Softball Team.
116th game in history between the Netherlands and Italy.
47th loss in history of the Netherlands against Italy.
Weather conditions at game time:
Partly cloudy, 25° C (77° F); wind direction northeast; wind speed 13 kmh (8,1 mph); wind force 2 Bft; humidity 48%.

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