GB Women chalk up two more wins at the Euros

Mon 1 Jul 2019

By Bob Fromer

Ostrava, Czech Republic: 1 July – The GB Women’s Fastpitch Team rode their powerful offense to two blowout wins at the European Women’s Championship today, beating Germany 15-1 this morning and Croatia 15-0 this evening.

The game against Croatia was delayed by almost three hours due to lightning and then rain, but today’s two wins virtually guarantee that GB will win Pool D in the opening round-robin and go into the second round in very good shape.

Tomorrow, GB will finish their first-round schedule with a 2.00 pm game against Switzerland in the Czech town of Frydek-Mistek, a game originally scheduled for 9.30 am before a number of late games today were postponed due to the weather.  GB will then start their second-round schedule at 6.30 pm in Ostrava against Ireland, who look odds-on to finish as runners-up in Pool C.

On Wednesday, GB will play the Pool A winner, probably the Czech Republic, and the runner-up in Pool B, probably Spain.  One win in those three games may be enough to book the GB Women’s place in the Olympic Qualifier that will start on 23 July in Utrecht in the Netherlands; two wins certainly will.

But this GB Team, with a 3-0 record and 42 runs scored in those first three games, will be aiming higher.

Below is a report on this evening’s game with Croatia; a report on this morning’s game against Germany follows.

GB v Croatia

GB’s first two games in the Women’s European Championship, against Greece and Germany, were meant to be the tough games.  Greece was that, briefly; Germany never was at all.  But the third game, against Croatia, was meant to be even easier – and so it proved.

While sitting out the long lightning and rain delay in their respective dugouts on the main field at Ostrava, the teams entertained each other with spurts of dancing and singing.

When the game began, Croatia threw a little scare into the proceedings against GB starter Hannah Edwards in the top of the first inning.

Iva Muzinic led off with a bloop single to right field and when a throw by Lauren Evans to second base on Katarina Prskalo’s bunt pulled shortstop Nerissa Myers off the bag, Croatia had two on and no one out.

Both runners moved up on a bunt by Marina Vitalich, but had to hold at second and third when Katie Burge, playing second base, dived to grab a little line drive of the bat of Bruna Dewald before it could hit the ground.

Lorena Orescanin then walked to load the bases, but Hannah Edwards struck out Ema Vrancic swinging to end the threat.

Whereupon GB came into bat and put up 12 runs on 11 hits.

The deluge

Katie Burge led things off with a triple up the alley in left centre field, Alana Snow was hit by a pitch, and Nerissa Myers bounced out to second base, scoring Katie.

But then eight straight hits followed off Croatian starter Michaela Haramina and the runs poured across the plate.  The hits were: a single to left by Lauren Evans, a double to the left field wall by Chloe Wigington, a sharp single up the middle by Amie Hutchison, a single to shortstop by Emmilee Blowers, a double to the fence in right centre by Hannah Edwards, a single past second base by Olivia Lee, an infield single by Katie Burge and a triple ripped into the right field corner by Alana Snow.

That last hit finally brought about a pitching change, with Ema Vrancic taking over in the circle. But she walked Nerissa Myers and gave up a triple to right field by Lauren Evans before finally getting the second and third outs.

Because of the weather delay, everyone wanted this to be the shortest game possible once GB had taken that unassailable lead, and the GB Women obliged.

Hannah Edwards kept Croatia off the scoreboard in the top of the second and third innings, though she had baserunners in both frames.

And though GB failed to score in the second inning, they got the three runs needed for the mercy rule 15-after-three win in the bottom of the third without Croatia registering an out.

Alana Snow singled to left and Amy Moore blasted a towering home run over the centre field fence.  Lauren Evans and Chloe Wigington walked, and Amie Hutchison drove a line drive single to left, driving in Lauren with the game-ending run.

“I was really happy with today,” Head Coach Rachael Watkeys said after the game. “Everyone hit the ball hard, and it was great that everyone got to play.  So far, things are looking good!”

Everyone knows that tougher tests will come – but for now, GB has dealt comfortably with a range of opposition, all the pitchers have pitched, everyone has played, and everyone is hitting the ball, a testament to the work done on hitting and strength and conditioning before the tournament.

GB will almost certainly be in Utrecht for the Europe/Africa Olympic Qualifier.  But how much further can they go?

GB v Germany

The bats stayed hot to start Day 2 at the European Women’s Championship as the GB Women pounded out 13 hits en route to a four-inning 15-1 mercy rule win over Germany.

The game was played in hot conditions in the small Polish town of Zory, one of four towns or cities in the Czech Republic and Poland hosting games in this 23-country competition.

With yesterday’s convincing win over Greece and then this morning’s rout of Germany, GB had seen off the two toughest opponents in their first-round pool, and could look forward to winning the group and giving themselves an excellent chance of at least a top six finish at the tournament.

That will be the first mission accomplished, since a top six finish means a place in the Euro/Africa Olympic Qualifier.

But this GB Team will be aiming higher and looking towards the medal places.

Too much offense

GB simply had too much offense and too much speed for a German team that used four pitchers over four innings, with none of them able to keep the British off the scoreboard.

Yesterday, the home run had been the big weapon against Greece.  There were no home runs in this game, but a steady procession of singles and doubles as GB scored three runs in the first inning, two in the second, four in the third and a decisive six runs in the fourth inning.

GB also had help from the Germans, in the form of three walks, two hit batters and – more importantly – four infield errors that led to a bunch of unearned runs.  The most damaging sequence came in the top of the third inning when Emmilee Blowers reached on a throwing error by Germany’s third pitcher Mona Horner, Chloe Wigington was hit by a pitch and a bunt by Katie Burge was thrown past first base and down the right field line by German third base player Lisa Marie Kovacevic, with all three GB players scoring.

But GB speed put pressure on the German infield the whole game, with Sydney Brown, Nerissa Myers and Aubrey Peterson (twice) beating out infield hits.

Nerissa Myers finally made an out, popping up a change-up against Mona Horner in the third inning, but had two more hits, an intentional walk and two RBIs, leaving her at 6-for-7 in the tournament at that point with seven RBIs.

Lead-off hitter Sydney Brown had two singles and a double, Alicja Wolny and Aubrey Peterson had two hits each, and Alana Snow and Olivia Lee came off the bench in the fourth inning to drive in runs with a single and a double respectively.

Pitching and defense

The Germans had racked up a 15-1 win of their own on Sunday against Switzerland, but today their offense was handled easily by GB starter Amie Hutchison, who threw three excellent innings, allowing just one single.

Amie’s drop pitch was outstanding, and German batters were continually hitting on top of the ball and beating it into the ground.  Amie only struck out one batter, but almost no one made good contact against her and the GB defense played errorless ball behind her.

The lone German run came against Hannah Edwards, who pitched the fourth inning and gave up a single to German shortstop Katarina Szalay and a double to Lisa Marie Kovacevic before striking out Mona Horner on a good rise ball to end the game.

GB Notes

GB outfielder Chloe Wigington, who hit her first GB home run yesterday, a walk-off blast against the Greeks, had an eventful day today.

First, she forgot her white uniform top – which meant that in order for her to be allowed to play, the whole GB Team had to change to red uniform tops instead.  Then, as the DP against Germany, Chloe was hit by pitches twice in three trips to the plate, something that has occurred with uncanny regularity whenever Chloe has played for GB, at whatever age level.  Sadly, there are no records kept of such things by the GB programme, but Chloe must be the runaway hit-by-pitch leader in GB Softball history.

The best game of the European Championship so far was played on Monday afternoon between Spain and Israel, a contest that would decide which team would advance behind Italy in Pool B.  

Previous Israeli teams have been among the weakest in Europe; but this year, with Olympic qualification as a possible prize, Israel has put out a team composed mostly of American college players, some from good Division 1 schools. 

Vanessa Foreman from Arizona pitched the first five innings for Israel, but was matched pitch-for-pitch by homegrown Spanish pitcher Beatriz Parejo.  The game was tied at 1-1 and 3-3 before Spain took a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the sixth.  Israel tied the score in the top of the seventh against Beatriz Alonso, but couldn't take the lead, and Spain won it in the bottom of the inning on a walk-off two out double by Raquel Moncho.

Scores and standings

Scores and standings from games completed so far today are as follows:

Belgium 27, Lithuania 6 (3 inns)
France 11, Slovakia 9
Sweden 11, Belgium 7 (5 inns/rain)
Czech Republic 6, Slovakia 2 (5 inns/rain)
Lithuania v Sweden (postponed)
France v Czech Republic (postponed)

Czech Republic (3-0)
France (3-0)
Sweden (2-1)
Belgium (2-2)
Lithuania (0-3)
Slovakia (0-4)

Israel 2, Austria 0
Ukraine 13, Turkey 0 (3 inns)
Spain 5, Israel 4
Italy 15, Ukraine 0 (3 inns)
Austria v Turkey (postponed)
Italy v Spain (postponed)

Italy (3-0)
Spain (3-0)
Israel (3-1)
Ukraine (1-3)
Austria (0-3)
Turkey (0-3)

Denmark 12, Hungary 5 (5 inns)
Ireland 9, Russia 2 (6 inns)
Netherlands 10, Poland 0 (4 inns)
Poland 14, Hungary 0 (4 inns)
Netherlands v Russia (postponed)
Denmark v Ireland (postponed)

Netherlands (3-0)
Ireland (2-1)
Russia (2-1)
Poland (2-2)
Denmark (1-2)
Hungary (0-4) 

Great Britain 15, Germany 1 (4 inns)
Switzerland 2, Croatia 0
Greece 6, Germany 4
Great Britain 15, Croatia 0 (3 inns)

Great Britain (3-0)
Greece (2-2)
Germany (2-2)
Switzerland (1-2)
Croatia (0-2)

Photos by Jason Lee

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