GB Women grab extra-inning win over Russia

Fri 21 Sep 2018

By Bob Fromer

Hoofddorp, Netherlands: Friday 21 September – A brilliant eight-inning pitching performance by young Hannah Edwards and some clutch hits when the game was on the line brought the GB Women a come-from behind extra-inning 5-3 win over Russia today at the European Super 6.

The win ensures that GB will finish fourth in the Super 6 round-robin and will play in the bronze medal game tomorrow (Saturday) -- though their opponent will not be determined until Saturday morning. 

That's because tonight's game between the Netherlands and the Czech Republic, which will determine the order in which the top three teams finish, started late, was suspended in the second inning and eventually cancelled due to rain and gale force winds, to be resumed at 10.30 tomorrow morning.  Until that game is completed, the Czechs, the Dutch and the Italians won't know which two of them will be playing in the final and which will be playing GB for third place.

Russia and Greece, who finished fifth and sixth in the round-robin, will play tomorrow for fifth place.


Slow start

Hannah Edwards, who began her GB career with the Under-16s as recently as 2017 and played for both the GB Under-19 and Under-22 Women’s Teams this summer, started her first game for the Senior Women on Thursday at the Super 6 against the European champion Netherlands, and pitched four strong innings in that game before the Dutch began to get to her.

Today, Hannah started slowly, giving up two runs to Russia in the bottom of the first inning via three singles and a hit batter in cold and extremely windy conditions.  “At times, the wind was almost blowing me over!” Hannah said after the game.

But after that first inning, Hannah settled down and gave up just three scattered singles over the next six innings to a good-hitting Russian team, striking out six but mostly getting the Russians to hit infield ground balls and pop-ups. 

Occasionally, the ball was hit harder, but Amy Wells made a nice catch of a slicing line drive to right field by Russian pitcher Yulia Maslova in the fourth inning, and Nerissa Myers made a leaping catch of a line drive by Narina Stepanyan that was heading for right centre field in the bottom of the seventh inning.

The fact that Hannah Edwards shut the Russians down after the first inning was what allowed GB to first get back in the game, and eventually to win it.


Comeback

GB had some baserunners but nothing much in the way of scoring chances for the first three innings against young Russian pitcher Yulia Maslova, who has pitched the majority of the innings for Russia this week and pitched the full game today.

“Both pitchers did incredibly well,” GB Head Coach Rachael Watkeys said after the game.  “It was a battle of young up-and-coming pitchers for both countries.”

In the top of the fourth inning, GB tied the game at 2-2, with considerable help from the Russian defense. 

Hannah Edwards led off the inning and grounded to short, but Polina Vereikina’s throw was wide of first base, and Hannah wound up on second.  Chloe Wigington bunted Hannah to third, and then catcher Emmilee Blowers found the hole between first and second base for a single to drive in GB’s first run.

The next batter, Laura Thompson, beat out a bunt pushed to the left side of the infield, and Emmilee Blowers rounded second and kept going, heading for third.  The throw was in time, but the ball came loose on the tag and Emmilee was called safe – and while the Russian players were arguing the call, Emmilee got up and jogged across an unguarded home plate for the tying run.

No doubt the Russian coaches will have things to say about that!

From that point on, it was GB applying the pressure, but without being able to make the breakthrough.

In the top of the fifth inning, Lauren Evans and Nerissa Myers had back-to-back one-out singles, but a force play and a strikeout choked off the chance.

In the top of the sixth inning, after Russian shortstop Polina Vereikina made a fantastic catch on Emmilee Blower’s foul pop fly that the wind just blew back onto the field, Laura Thompson was hit by a pitch and Amy Wells drew a walk.  But again, the chance went begging.

After neither team could score in the seventh, the game went to extra innings.


Eighth inning drama

Hannah Edwards was due to be the GB tiebreak runner in the top of the eighth inning, but Steph Pearce ran for her instead.  The first batter, Chloe Wigington, put down her second excellent bunt of the day to move Steph to third, and Emmilee Blowers then fouled off a number of pitches before finally punching a single to right field that gave GB the lead.

But scoring the tiebreak runner is a minimum requirement in these situations; the trick is to score more than one.

Laura Thompson followed Emmilee by slashing a single to right field and now GB had runners on first and second, still with just one out.  But Amy Wells struck out swinging, bringing up Amie Hutchison, who had entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the sixth inning, for a crucial at-bat.

Amie took the first pitch from Yulia Maslova for a ball, then lined the next one into right centre field, bringing home Emmilee Blowers and send Laura Thompson to third.  A few moments later, Yulia Maslova threw her only wild pitch of the game, and Laura came in to score the third run of the inning and give GB a 5-2 lead.

By this time, Yulia Maslova was rattled.  She walked Sydney Brown and hit Lauren Evans with a pitch to bring up Nerissa Myers, GB’s most dangerous hitter, with the bases loaded.  Nerissa was sitting on the first pitch and pulled a wicked line drive to right field – and right to Eugenia Egiazarova, who took the catch to end the inning.

Hannah Edwards had worked too hard to let that three-run cushion go to waste, but the bottom of the eighth inning was not without tension.

Tatiana Beltyukova was the tiebreak runner on second, and she stayed there as Eugenia Egiazarova bounced out to Chloe Wigington at third and Daria Semenova popped out to first base.

But then Polina Vereikina drove a single to left field, sending Beltyukova to third, and she scored on a little fly ball near second base that Sydney Brown couldn’t quite reach.  Now the score was 5-3 and the tying run was on base.

But Yulia Maslova went after Hannah Edwards’s first pitch and grounded out to short to end the game and give GB an excellent and well-earned win.

“It was a really good team effort,” Rachael Watkeys said.  After the first inning, everyone hit the ball hard, and Emmilee Blowers (with three singles and two RBIs had a fantastic game.  Around the third inning, Hannah got into a groove, and did a great job.”


Scores

Round-robin scores from the Softball Super 6, with just one game left to play, are:

TUESDAY
Czech Republic 3, Italy 2
GB 7, Greece 3
Netherlands 13, Russia 1 (5 inns)

WEDNESDAY
Czech Republic 5, Russia 4
Italy 6, GB 0
Czech Republic 6, Greece 5
Italy 4, Netherlands 3 (* inns)

THURSDAY
Russia 7, Greece 2
Czech Republic 2, GB 0
Italy 8, Russia 0 (5 inns)
Netherlands 8, GB 3

FRIDAY
Netherlands 14, Greece 4 (4 inns)
GB 5, Russia 3 (8 inns)
Italy 9, Greece 1 (5 inns)
Czech Republic v Netherlands: to be resumed on Saturday


Standings

The current round-robin standings with that one game still to play are:

Czech Republic (4-0)
Italy (4-1)
Netherlands (3-1)
GB (2-3)
Russia (1-4)
Greece (0-5)

If the Czechs beat the Netherlands Saturday morning when their game resumes at 0-0 in the top of the second inning, the Czechs and Italy will play for the gold medal.  If the Netherlands win, all three teams will have 4-1 records and the order will depend on runs conceded in games between them.

All games from the Super 6 are being webstreamed live, with excellent production by Playo.tv, and are also available on demand on www.baseballsoftball.tv.

The full schedule and all the results can be viewed on the ESF website: http://competition.europeansoftball.org/2018/hoofddorp/schedule.php.

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