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Updated: October 23, 2021
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(Story by Marco Stoovelaar; Photos by Fred Versluis)

Sparks Haarlem and Olympia Haarlem split double-header on Day 1 Holland Series
Nederlands

HAARLEM (Neth.) - Sparks Haarlem and Olympia Haarlem opened the 2021 best-of-three Holland Series with a double-header split on Saturday (October 16).

Sparks Haarlem won the opener with an 8-2 score, then Olympia Haarlem struck late in Game 2 and won 6-3 to force a deciding third game. That third game will be played on Sunday at the site of Olympia Haarlem, starting at 2 PM.

In the regular season, Sparks Haarlem was in first place almost the entire year. Olympia Haarlem was closely following, but Tex Town Tigers also was in second place for a few weeks. Besides that, reigning champion Roef! also remained a contender, despite having a somewhat disappointing season.

Two years ago, Roef! captured the Dutch Championship-title by winning the best-of-three Holland Series against Olympia Haarlem. Last year, Roef! shared first place with Sparks Haarlem went the season was abruptly ended due to new measures against the coronavirus (COVID-19). That season went underway late due to the measures and agreed was that the season would not be followed by Play-Offs and Holland Series. Instead, the winner of the regular season would be crowned as Champion. However, when the season was halted, it was decided that there would be no champion in the 2020 season. With that, Roef! remained the defending champion this year.

...Kirsten Scheele, Maxime van Dalen, Britt Vonk,...
...Brenda Beers and Lisa Hop with the Awards for...
...the Best Players of the 2021 season which were...
...handed between the two games...
(© Photo: Fred Versluis)
This season, there were no Play-Offs, but there was a Holland Series. Instead of the best four teams to advance to the postseason, only the two best teams of the regular season advanced and they met in the Championship Final. This season, Roef! was dethroned and finished in fourth place, a spot it secured late in the season. In the meantime, Olympia Haarlem had a strong finish and climbed to finish in second place and clinch a spot in the Holland Series. By finishing in first place, Sparks Haarlem gained home-field advantage for the first two games today.

By qualifying for the Holland Series, both Sparks and Olympia secured participation in an European Cup-tournament. The champion will play in the Premiere Cup, the losing team will play in the Cup Winners Cup.

This years Holland Series is the third between Sparks Haarlem and Olympia Haarlem. The teams first played for the title in 2015 in what then was only a best-of-one and was won by Sparks Haarlem. The teams faced each other again in 2017 and Olympia then swept Sparks 2-0 in what was a best-of-three.

For Olympia Haarlem, this is its fourth Holland Series-participation in a row. Sparks Haarlem is playing in its first Final since 2017 and its 20th overall.

Between the two games today, the Awards were handed out to the best players of the 2021 season. Britt Vonk (Tex Town Tigers) received the Award for Best Hitter (.538), Brenda Beers (Olympia Haarlem) had the Most Stolen Bases (26) and Maxime van Dalen (Sparks Haarlem) hit the Most Homeruns (10). Kristen Scheele (Sparks Haarlem) was presented the Award for Best Pitcher (16 Wins, 1.66 ERA). KNBSB-Boardmembers Petra Arends and Peter van der Aart handed the Award for Most Valuable Player to Lisa Hop (Olympia Haarlem) (44 RBI's, 6 HRs, 20 Stolen Bases, 14 Wins as pitcher, Most StrikeOuts with 133). She also won the Egbert van der Sluis Award for Most Promising Netherlands Team Player Under-23.

Last season, three players won the same Award, being Brenda Beers (Stolen Bases), Maxime van Dalen (Homeruns) and Kirsten Scheele (Best Pitcher).

(October 16)



Game 1 - Sparks Haarlem vs. Olympia Haarlem

In the opening game, it was Olympia Haarlem that scored first. Brenda Beers led of with a triple into deep centerfield off of veteran righthander Kirsten Scheele, then scored when Cindy van der Zanden followed with a single. The visiting team came close to adding another run hereafter. Jessie van Aalst was hit by a pitch and via a double-steal, the team got runners on second and third base. But they were left behind, as Scheele followed with a strikeout, then a flyout and groundout ended the at bat.

Sparks Haarlem erased the early deficit in its first at bat and took the lead by scoring twice off of starter Alyson Spinas-Valainis. The home-team got the bases loaded quickly, as Kimberly Jones led off with a walk, Suka Van Gurp followed with a single and Maxime van Dalen also walked. Jones then scored the tying run on a sacrifice fly by Riangela Flanegin, which also led to runners on second and third base. Moments later, Van Gurp scored the go-ahead run on a grounder by Lorraine Kieft. Spinas then closed with a strikeout, but Sparks led 2-1.

After Olympia Haarlem had been retired in order in the top of the second inning, Sparks Haarlem took more distance by scoring two unearned runs in the bottom of the second. Lead-off hitter Bobbi Scheurkogel (who won the title with Olympia in 2018) reached on an error and with one out, she stole second base. With two outs, Scheurkogel scored on a single by Kimberly Jones. After next batter Suka Van Gurp had walked, Maxime van Dalen delivered a single that brought in Jones and made it a 4-1 score.

Two scoreless innings followed and it was Olympia Haarlem that got a runner in scoring position. With one out in the third, Cindy van der Zanden reached on an error and Jessie van Aalst singled, but a double play ended the at bat. Sparks Haarlem left a runner behind on first base in its third at bat. Both teams were retired in order in the fourth.

Olympia stranded another runner in scoring position in the top of the fifth. Machteld Rector led off with a double and moved to third base on a flyout, but then was left behind.

Sparks Haarlem then added another unearned run in the bottom of the fifth off of Lisa Hop, who had taken over the pitching for Olympia in the previous at bat. Maxime van Dalen led off with a single, moved into scoring position on a passed ball, then scored on a single by Riangela Flanegin. Lisa Hop then struckout the next three batters and Flanegin was left behind on second base.

Olympia Haarlem got one run back in the top of the sixth to narrow the deficit to 5-2. Jessie van Aalst led off with a triple and scored on an one-out grounder by Lisa Hop.

Moments later, Sparks Haarlem took more distance by scoring three insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth. Denice van Dijk and Nina Oomes began the rally with singles. Van Dijk's pinch-runner Ismay Poot then scored on an one-out single by Suka Van Gurp. With Oomes at third base, Van Gurp advanced on a wild pitch, which also resulted in a strikeout for Maxime van Dalen. With first base open, a force play was set up by walking Riangela Flanegin intentionally, but hereafter, with the bases now loaded, a normal walk followed for Lorraine Kieft, which led to a run. Next, Van Gurp also scored on a passed ball. With runners on second and third base, Lisa Hop then closed with her seventh strikeout, but Sparks Haarlem now had a comfortbable 8-2 lead.

Veteran righthander Rebecca Soumeru then threw the seventh inning for Sparks Haarlem and retired the side to secure the opening-win.


...Left: Head Coaches Peter van Dalen and Stanley Doney meet with...
...Umpires Britt Nielandt (HP), Tommasita Pavan (1B) and Mariana Prins (3B)...
...Right: Kimberly Jones enters the field during the player-introductions...

...Left: Kirsten Scheele was the starting pitcher for Sparks Haarlem...
...Right: Centerfielder Nina Oomes sees the lead-off triple by Brenda Beers fly by in the 1st inning...

...Left: A lot of spectators followed the opening double-header of the Holland Series...
...Right: Of course, SDTV covers all games with a multi-camera livestream,...
...directed by Hans Vleugels and with commentary by Cobus Oosting and Andrť Prins...

...Bobbi Scheurkogel reaches on an error in the 2nd inning; the ball is thrown out of reach...
...of 2B Cindy van der Zanden and a collision follows...

...Moments later, Bobbi Scheurkogel steals second base (left), where short stop Machteld Rector tries to catch the ball...
...Later, Scheurkogel scores (right), running towards catcher Brenda Beers...

...Left: Official Scorers Dieks Bannink and Jeanette van Drunen oversee the actions on the field...
...Right: Centerfielder Nina Oomes cannot stop the triple by Jessie van Aalst in the 6th inning...

...Left: Suka Van Gurp scores on a passed ball in the 6th inning...
...Following the action are batter Dervisa Mutic and pitcher Lisa Hop...
...Right: Rebecca Soumeru closed the game for Sparks Haarlem...
(© All Photos: Fred Versluis)


Sparks Haarlem - Olympia Haarlem 8-2
1234567RHE
Olympia Haarlem1000010-252
Sparks Haarlem220013X-881
pitchers Olympia Haarleminn.SOBBHRER
Alyson Spinas-Valainis, L (0-1)324342

Lisa Hop372542

pitchers Sparks Haarleminn.SOBBHRER
Kirsten Scheele, W (1-0)64-522

Rebecca Soumeru1-----

Box Score
Play-by-Play
Standings
Scores
Schedule
Team Rosters
Umpires: HP-Britt Nielandt, 1B-Tommasita Pavan, 3B-Mariana Prins.
Official Scorer-Dieks Bannink.
Play-by-Play Scorer-Jeanette van Drunen.
Public Address Announcer-Coert Oomes.
Scoreboard Operator-Coert Oomes.
Starting Time-1:57 PM.
Time Played-2:03 hrs.
Site-Noordersportpark, Haarlem.

Game Notes:
Game 1, best-of-three Holland Series.
Sparks Haarlem leads, 1-0.
35th Holland Series.
Third Holland Series between Sparks Haarlem and Olympia Haarlem.
20th Holland Series-participation for Sparks Haarlem, fifth for Olympia Haarlem.
Quilen Dirksz, Lisa Hop, Anna Prins, Machteld Rector (all Olympia Haarlem), Riangela Flanegin, Lorraine Kieft, Nina Oomes and Ismay Poot play in their first Holland Series-game.
Umpire Tommasita Pavan officiates in her first Holland Series.
Weather conditions at game time:
Partly cloudy, 14° C (57,2° F); wind direction southwest; wind speed 16 kmh (9,9 mph); wind force 3 Bft; humidity 61%.



Game 2 - Sparks Haarlem vs. Olympia Haarlem

The first at bat of the second game developed similar as in the first game. Olympia Haarlem opened the score and Sparks Haarlem again answered with two runs. After four innings, Sparks led 3-1, but this time, the scoring stopped for the home-team, while the visiting team turned the game around. Olympia came alongside in the fifth, then struck in the seventh inning. There were also some crucial moments in this game. And there were several close calls on the bases, with a few of them resulting in some discussions from both teams.

Remarkably enough, both starting pitchers pitched only one inning or less, which is very rare for sotball.

In the top of the first inning, Olympia Haarlem scored the first run in the game off of American starter Rachel Henks. With one out, the lefthander gave up a single to Cindy van der Zanden, then a bunt-single to Jessie van Aalst. With two outs, Van der Zanden scored on a single by Lisa Hop, but two runners were left behind.

Sparks Haarlem then again scored twice in its first at bat off of starter Alyson Spinas-Valainis. With one out, Suka Van Gurp reached on an error and moved on a passed ball. To set up a force play, Maxime van Dalen was walked intentionally. The force play didn't come, as Riangela Flanegin connected for a double that tied the score. With runners on second and third base, Van Dalen beat the throw to the plate on a fielder's choice-grounder by Lorraine Kieft to score the go-ahead run. A pitching change followed and Lisa Hop took over. With runners at the corners and two outs, a double-steal situation followed, but Flanegin was eliminated after a rundown in a close play at third base, which was the first of two crucial moments at third base in this game. Temporary Runner Dervisa Mutic stranded on second, as a pop-fly ended tthe at bat.

With a 2-1 lead, Rebecca Soumeru took over the Sparks-pitching in the top of the second inning. She held Olympia scoreless in three innings and didn't allow a runner to come into scoring position in these at bats. In the second inning, the righthander gave up a lead-off single to Quilen Dirksz, but she was eliminated in a close play at second base when she tried to stretch her hit into a double. In the fourth, Soumeru walked lead-off hitter MariŽlle Vleugels, but her pinch-runner Daphne Onderwater was forced out.

Sparks Haarlem left a runner behind on first base in the second inning, then added a run in the third, but failed to take some more distance. With one out in the third, Maxime van Dalen and Riangela Flanegin both walked and with two outs, the bases got loaded when Dervisa Mutic also walked. Zoe Hicks followed with a single. Van Dalen scored, but Mutic was eliminated in a close play when she overran second base. She was unable to advance, as Flanegin was stopped at third base. With that, runners were left behind on first and third base.

In the fourth, Sparks Haarlem left another runner on third base. Denice van Dijk led off with a single, moved on a wild pitch and advanced to third base on a flyout, but then was left behind.

The fifth inning then became crucial for both teams. Olympia Haarlem scored twice to come alongside and for Sparks Haarlem, another runner was eliminated at third base.

Olympia came alongside with two outs in the top of the fifth. Alyson Spinas-Valainis (who had stayed in the game as the Offensive Player Only) led off with a single. With one out, her pinch-runner Machteld Rector moved on a bunt-single by Brenda Beers, but then was forced out on a grounder by Cindy van der Zanden. With two outs and runners on first and second base, Jessie van Aalst drilled the ball into right/centerfield for a 2-run triple. And that tied the score at 3-3!

In the bottom of the fifth, Sparks Haarlem had runners on first and third base, but was unable to score. Maxime van Dalen led off with a single. Hereafter, Riangela Flanegin walked, but she was forced out on a grounder by Lorraine Kieft, which brought Van Dalen to third base. With runners at the corners and Dervisa Mutic in the batter's box, an attempt for a squeeze-bunt failed. Van Dalen, who was off her base when the bunt was missed, returned back too late at third base and was eliminated there in what was another crucial moment. Now with two outs and a runner on first base, Mutic grounded out, which ended the at bat.

Olympia Haarlem then struck with a 3-run rally in the top of the seventh inning. With one out, Yindi Beekveldt singled and Brenda Beers doubled. That led to a pitching change and Kirsten Scheele took over from Rebecca Soumeru. The veteran righthander was greeted with a 2-run double by Cindy van der Zanden that gave Olympia a 5-3 lead. After next batter Jessie van Aalst was walked intentionally, MariŽlle Vleugels singled. And that enabled Van der Zanden to score her third run in the game. With runners at first and second base and one out, Lisa Hop hit a grounder towards second base where Vleugels was forced out. Hop then touched first base just before the ball ended up in the glove of 1B Maxime van Dalen, however, an out-call followed, which completed an inning-ending double play. But Olympia had taken a 6-3 lead.

In the bottom of the seventh, as a pitcher, Lisa Hop retired the side to seal the win. And to force a deciding third game.


...Left: Head Coaches Peter van Dalen and Stanley Doney meet with Umpires Mariana Prins (HP),...
...Britt Nielandt (1B) and Tommasita Pavan (3B)...
...Right: Rachel Henks started Game 2 for Sparks Haarlem...

...Left: Riangela Flanegin after her RBI-double in the 1st inning; At right is 2B Cindy van der Zanden...
...Right: Maxime van Dalen slides by catcher Brenda Beers to score the 2nd run in the 1st inning...

...Riangela Flanegin is eliminated in a close play by 3B Quilen Dirksz in a double-steal situation in the 1st inning...
...Flanegin appears to be tagged before touching the base (center) and is called out by Umpire Tommasita Pavan...

...Quilen Dirksz is tagged out by 2B Suka Van Gurp trying to stretch a single into a double in the 2nd inning...

...Left: Rebecca Soumeru took over the pitching for Sparks Haarlem in the 2nd inning...
...Right: Outfielders Denice van Dijk, Nina Oomes and Dervisa Mutic look on during the...
...pitching-change in the 7th inning in which Olympia Haarlem takes the lead by scoring three runs...
(© All Photos: Fred Versluis)


Sparks Haarlem - Olympia Haarlem 3-6
1234567RHE
Olympia Haarlem1000203-6112
Sparks Haarlem2010000-340
pitchers Olympia Haarleminn.SOBBHRER
Rachel van Veen- (*)-----

Alyson Spinas-Valainis0.1-1121

Lisa Hop, W (1-0)6.255311

(*) - Van Veen was announced as starting pitcher, but was replaced by Spinas when bottom 1st began

pitchers Sparks Haarleminn.SOBBHRER
Rachel Henks1--311

Rebecca Soumeru, L (0-1)5.161644

Kirsten Scheele0.2-1211

Box Score
Play-by-Play
Standings
Scores
Schedule
Team Rosters
Umpires: HP-Mariana Prins, 1B-Britt Nielandt, 3B-Tommasita Pavan.
Official Scorer-Karin Pieneman.
Play-by-Play Scorer-Stefan Slinger.
Public Address Announcer-Coert Oomes.
Scoreboard Operator-Coert Oomes.
Starting Time-4:48 PM.
Time Played-2:11 hrs.
Site-Noordersportpark, Haarlem.

Game Notes:
Game 2, best-of-three Holland Series.
Series tied, 1-1.
Rachel Henks, Zoe Hicks (both Sparks Haarlem) and Daphne Onderwater (Olympia Haarlem) play in their first Holland Series-game.
Weather conditions at game time:
Overcast, 14° C (57,2° F); wind direction southwest; wind speed 27 kmh (16,8 mph); wind force 3 Bft; humidity 63%.



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