GB Women suffer first reverse at Europeans

Thu 4 Jul 2019

By Bob Fromer

Ostrava, Czech Republic: 4 July – The GB Women’s Fastpitch Team suffered their first setback at the European Women's Championship tonight when they were overpowered by the Netherlands, 8-1, in five innings.

Earlier in the day, the GB Women had recorded their eighth straight victory at the tournament with a fairly routine 10-3 five-inning mercy rule win over France, and the story of that game is below.

Both of today's games came in the third round of the European Championship, otherwise known as Pool X, and the win this afternoon over France guaranteed that GB will be playing in a medal game on Saturday – either for bronze or gold.

But after the loss to the Netherlands this evening, GB's only route to the gold medal game will be to win against Italy on the main field at Ostrava tomorrow (Friday).  

All six of the teams in Pool X, which also includes the Czech Republic and Spain, will advance to the Europe/Africa Olympic Qualifier that begins on 23 July in the Dutch city of Utrecht.
 

Scores and standings

Below are scores of games played today in Pool X, followed by standings which include played games carried forward from the previous round:

POOL X SCORES
Netherlands 10, Spain 0 (4 inns)
Great Britain 10, France 3 (5 inns)
Italy 10, Czech Republic 0 (6 inns)
Czech Republic 7, France 6
Italy 5, Spain 1
Netherlands 8, Great Britain 1 (5 inns)

POOL X STANDINGS
Netherlands (4-0)
Great Britain (3-1)
Italy (3-1)
Czech Republic (2-2)
France (0-4)
Spain (0-4)

Pool X will conclude tomorrow when France plays Spain at 4.15 pm, GB plays Italy at 6.30 and the Netherlands takes on the Czech Republic at 8.45.  All games will be webstreamed on www.playo.tv.  It's already clear which four teams will play in the medal games -- but who will play the Netherlands for the gold medal has yet to be decided.
 

GB v The Netherlands

The start of this game was delayed by almost an hour as the Czech Republic and France played out an unexpectedly close contest on the main pitch at Ostrava, with the Czechs scoring the walk-off run in the bottom of the seventh inning to break a 6-6 tie.

The evening had turned cold by the time the first pitch was thrown in the GB v Netherlands game at around 9.40 pm, but the Netherlands came out with aggression against GB starter Georgina Corrick and put a run on the scoreboard in the top of the first inning.

Britt Vonk was perhaps a bit lucky to bloop a single over first base to lead off the game, but she moved up to second on Eva Voortman's sacrifice bunt and scored on a single up the middle by Dinette Oosting.

Later in the inning, Jessie van Aalst singled, but was thrown out trying to steal second base by GB catcher Amy Moore.

The Dutch started their left-handed ace Eva Voortman, who does the now-legal forward leap when pitching and throws very hard.  Nevertheless, GB lead-off hitter Sydney Brown hit the ball hard back at Voortman and off her glove to open the bottom of the first inning with a hit.  One out later, Nerissa Myers sacrifice-bunted her to second, but Alicja Wolny went down swinging for the third out.

Neither team scored in the second inning, but there was plenty of action.  In the top of the inning, after Georgina Corrick hit the first Dutch batter, Wies Ligtvoet, with a pitch, Amy Moore gunned her down trying to steal second with the help of a sensational catch and slap tag by Nerissa Myers.

In the bottom of the frame, Lauren Evans singled off the glove of Dutch third baseplayer Virginie Anneveld and was bunted to second by Amy Moore.  With two out, Chloe Wigington was hit by a pitch for the umpteenth time in her GB softball career, but with two runners on, Eva Voortman struck out Katie Burge.
 

Dutch attack

The top of the third inning decided the game, as the Dutch hit the ball hard and scored four runs.  With one out, Eva Voortman beat out an infield hit on which Sydney Brown almost made a spectacular play, Dinette Oosting singled, Maxime van Dalen laced a double to left centre field and Jessie van Aalst hit a sacrifice fly to centre.  Against Eva Voortman, there was probably going to be no way back from a 5-0 deficit, and GB went up and down in order in the bottom of the third.

GB centre fielder Aubrey Peterson made a great running catch of a fly ball to left centre off the bat of Virginie Anneveld in the top of the fourth inning, and though the Dutch subsequently got two runners on base, they didn't score.

In the bottom of the fourth inning, GB had a real scare.  Eva Voortman can sometimes be wild, and pitching to Amy Moore with two out, Voortman lost control of an inside fastball or riseball that hit Amy on the arm and completely felled her.  The paramedics came on with a stretcher, but Amy was eventually able to leave the field under her own power.  However, her arm is very sore, the damage has yet to be fully assessed, and whether she can play again this week is unknown.

Unfortunately, Eva Voortman, who was obviously upset by the incident, lost control of another pitch in the same half-inning and hit Chloe Wigington -- again!  However, GB couldn't advance either Chloe or Olivia Lee, who had entered the game for Amy Moore.
 

The end game

GB brought in Amy Hutchison to pitch in the top of the fifth inning, and the Dutch scored three more runs, on three singles, a walk and an error, to stretch their lead into mercy rule territory at 8-0.

In the bottom of the inning, GB finally got on the scoreboard.  Sydney Brown led off with a bloop double down the left field line, moved up to third on a ground-out by Aubrey Peterson and scored on another by Nerissa Myers.  But 8-1 wasn't enough to keep the mercy rule at bay.

"The Dutch were aggressive and they hit the ball very hard," GB Head Coach Rachael Watkeys said after the game.  "Now we have some homework to do to figure how to beat them the next time we meet, whether that's Saturday or in Utrecht.  I think there is more to come from us."
 

GB v France 

Chloe Wigington stamped her presence on this game with a three-run home run and a great run-saving play at third base – but as always with this GB team, there were contributions from many quarters in the 10-3 five-inning win against France.

GB started Beth Fleming, and she survived a slightly shaky first inning, giving up a lead-off single and later a one-out walk before retiring the side on a ground-out and a strikeout.

Then, as GB have tended to do against most teams in this tournament, they put up runs early – this time six of them in the bottom of the first inning, with a certain amount of help from French starting pitcher Mylene Graves.

With one out, Aubrey Peterson started things by beating out an infield hit, and later in the inning Alicja Wolny singled in a run and Amie Hutchison singled in two.  But Mylene Graves threw in three walks during the inning and a couple of wild pitches, and GB baserunners took full advantage.

After the first inning, GB made a number of substitutions to rest players for the Dutch game – and when GB came to bat in the bottom of the second inning, a different French pitcher, Louise Le Chenadec, was in the circle.  She kept the GB offense under control over the next two innings, primarily with frequent use of a change-up.
 

Good defense

Meanwhile, in the top of the second inning, a double by Yasmine Debral and a hit batter had put two on for the French with two out, with lead-off hitter Kimane Rogron at the plate.  She hit a smash to the right of Chloe Wigington at third base, but Chloe made a great short-hop pick-up and threw Rogron out to keep the score at 6-0.

Hannah Edwards took over from Beth Fleming in the top of the third inning and gave up a lead-off bunt single to Pauline Prade.  But a very well-executed 6-4-3 double play, Sydney Brown to Emmilee Blowers to Lauren Evans, took the French out of the inning.

However, they did get on the board in the top of the fourth inning after Yasmine Debral hit her second double of the game to the same place in left centre field, moved to third on a bunt and scored when a pick-off throw went wrong.
 

Looking for runs

At this point, the GB Team was looking for runs to end the game early, and they came in the bottom of the fourth inning, when GB hitters began to adjust to Louise Le Chenadec.  With two on and one out following a walk to Sydney Brown and a second straight single by Emmilee Blowers, Chloe Wigington launched her second home run of the tournament over the fence in left centre field.

That made the score 9-1 heading into the fifth inning, but the French didn’t quit. 

Kimane Rogron and Pauline Prade led off the top of the inning with singles, Raina Hunter fouled off a number of pitches before walking on a 3-2 count to load the bases and pinch-hitter Melissa Mayeux lined a single to left field to drive in a run. 

All things considered, GB did well to get out of the inning with only one more run scoring on a sacrifice fly.  But now the score was 9-3 and GB needed a run in the bottom of the fifth to end the game on the mercy rule.

“One quick run” was the GB chant as they came in to bat, and one quick run is exactly what happened.

Hannah Edwards lined a single to right centre field and Alana Snow did the same, sending Hannah to third.

Sydney Brown then stroked a ground ball towards second base, and the throw to the plate was too late as Hannah Edwards slid across in a cloud of dust with the game-ending run.

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