GB Women trounce Ireland to move to 5-0

Tue 2 Jul 2019

By Bob Fromer

Ostrava, Czech Republic: 2 July – Georgina Corrick threw a dominant one-hit shutout and hit a walk-off three-run home run in the bottom of the fifth inning as GB beat Ireland tonight 8-0 in five innings at the European Women’s Championship.

But Georgina’s contributions were only part of a scintillating team performance as GB controlled every facet of the game from the first pitch to the last.  It was one of the sharpest, most efficient performances by a GB Team in memory and ran their record in the tournament to five mercy-rule wins in a row. 

Three of those wins have come against weaker teams, but tonight the GB Women kept up that momentum against stronger opposition – though the best teams in this tournament are still to come.


Second round

This was the first game of the first Championship playoff round-robin, and the win has taken the GB Women to the brink of the Olympic Qualifier, with two remaining second-round games tomorrow (Wednesday) against the Czech Republic and Spain.  Tonight’s win over Ireland may be enough; one more win tomorrow will make it certain.

Earlier in the day, GB had completed their opening-round games with an expected demotion of Switzerland, by a score of 17-1 in four innings.  A report on that game is below.

Ireland came into this tournament with hopes of getting to the Qualifier themselves, and they came second in Pool C, behind the Netherlands, thanks to a key win over Russia.  But their hopes may all come down to their game tomorrow morning against the Spanish. 

The GB offense had 10 hits in five innings against Irish starter Kelly Nelson, who had thrown three scoreless innings on Sunday night against the Netherlands, but was out-thought by the GB hitters, whose excellent strike zone judgment forced her to throw pitches they could handle.

“We came out with controlled aggression,” GB Hitting Coach Linda Derk said afterwards, “and we never took our foot off the gas.  We kept making adjustments, and we kept hitting the ball hard.  Everyone up and down the line-up dominated their at-bats, even when they resulted in outs.  It was a really effective team approach.”


Great start

Georgina Corrick, coming off a great college season at the University of South Florida that earned her Second-Team All-America honours, had only thrown four innings in the tournament so far, in relief of Beth Fleming in the opening game of the tournament.

That was not a totally convincing performance, but tonight she was a different pitcher.  In the top of the first inning, the first three Irish hitters went down on nine pitches, all strikes, via two strikeouts and a bouncer to third base.

Georgina didn’t walk a batter, had only two three-ball counts in the game, and allowed just a line drive single to Ari Jarvis with two outs in the second inning.  That was the sum of the Irish offense, and as Ireland Manager Colum Lavery said afterwards, “It felt like girls against women.”

Seven of the 16 Irish hitters who came to the plate struck out, and only one ball was really hard-hit, with the GB defense lapping up everything that came their way.

While Georgina was keeping the Irish offense under control, GB hitters put pressure on Kelly Nelson from the start.

Sydney Brown led off the bottom of the first inning by beating out yet another infield single.  But when Aubrey Peterson popped up a bunt attempt, and Nerissa Myers lined out hard to third base, it seemed the Irish might get out of the inning.

But this GB team has power that can strike from many spots in the line-up, and this time it was the sweet left-handed swing of first base player Alicia Wolny that drove the first pitch she saw over the fence in right field, and GB had a 2-0 lead.

Two more runs

Two more runs followed in the bottom of the second inning, with a terrible inevitability for the Irish as the situation developed. 

Georgina Corrick led off with a walk on a 3-2 pitch, and with one out, Katie Burge blooped a ball over the pitcher and was across first base before the middle infielders could even think about doing anything with the ball.  Sydney Brown’s grounder to second moved the runners to second and third and then Kelly Nelson did what she really didn’t want to do: walk Aubrey Peterson to load the bases with Nerissa Myers, one of the best hitters in the world, coming to bat.

Nerissa slashed a hard line drive that bounced just to the right of shortstop Allie Monteleone, who managed to get the tip of her glove on the ball.  But it trickled behind her and Georgina and Katie scurried home.


The denouement

Kelly Nelson steadied the ship after that – for a while.  GB had only a single by Lauren Evans in a scoreless third inning and managed only a single run in the fourth when Katie Burge was hit by a pitch, went to second on a groundout by Sydney Brown, and scored when Nerissa Myers drove a ball to left field that Lily Wilmot might have been able to catch if she had turned the right way.  But the ball was always curving away from her and wound up as a double.

By this time, the Irish had probably given up on winning the game, but were hoping to take it to seven innings.  That aspiration lasted only three batters into the bottom of the fifth inning.

Amy Moore led off by doing something amazing: she beat out an infield hit as the spin on her infield bloop completely defeated Allie Monteleone.  Lauren Evans then stroked a line drive single to right, and there were players and coaches on the GB bench who predicted what was coming even before Georgina Corrick drove a 1-1 pitch high and far over the left centre field wall to bring the game to an end.

Nobody in the GB camp is getting carried away, because the Irish are a good team, but not quite in the upper tier of European softball, and the Czechs, the Italians and the Dutch still lie ahead.  But the GB Women could not have played a better game against an up-and-coming Irish team.

“If anyone had any doubts before that we could do this,” Head Coach Rachael Watkeys told the team after the game, “they won’t have them now.”


GB v Switzerland

GB’s final first round pool game against Switzerland, pushed up from 9.30 this morning to 2.00 pm because of games delayed by rain on Monday evening, was a foregone conclusion, and a game that both teams wanted over and done with so they could move on to the second round at their respective levels.

Accordingly, it was a relatively low-energy game played in good spirits by both teams in warm sunshine in the Czech town of Frydek-Mistek, and after three innings GB had only a 5-1 lead. 

But the inevitable happened in the top of the fourth inning when GB bats finally got going, and 12 runs were scored on eight hits against three Swiss pitchers, including a three-run home run by Alicja Wolny, at the cost of only one out.  At that point, GB gave Switzerland the last two outs and Hannah Edwards replaced starter Beth Fleming and threw a 1-2-3 bottom of the fourth inning to close the game with GB ahead by 17-1.

Beth Fleming had allowed Swiss baserunners in each of the first three innings, but the only run against her was a solo home run hit by Swiss left fielder Marian Jameyson in the bottom of the first inning, a blast that seemed to surprise the Swiss as much as it delighted them.

Altogether, the GB offense pounded out 14 hits, with Amy Moore getting three of them and Katie Burge, Alicja Wolny, Lauren Evans and Amie Hutchison getting a pair each.

The key hits in the top of the first inning, when GB scored four runs, were a double by Lauren Evans, a two-RBI single by Amie Hutchison and a double by Emmilee Blowers.

GB added a single run in the third inning when Amy Moore bounced a single through the left side, Lauren Evans hit her second double, and a deep sacrifice fly by Amie Hutchison scored Amy Moore.

In the 12-run fourth inning, when GB sent 16 batters to the plate, Amy Moore had a single and a double and Alicja Wolny had a single and her second home run of the tournament.  The other hits were a double by Katie Burge and and singles from Olivia Lee, Alana Snow and Amie Hutchison.

The Swiss used three different pitchers during that inning, and the last one was Karen Heimgartner, a long-time friend of GB Softball, who used to fly over from Switzerland on a monthly basis back in 2002 and 2003 to pitch batting practice to the GB Women’s Team of the day, coached at that time by Bobby Simpson.  At that point, Karen (shown below) was an American living in Switzerland; now she’s a Swiss citizen and ending a long softball career on the Swiss National Team.


Standings and scores

All of the scores from the first round-robin pools at the European Women’s Championship can be found on the European Softball Federation website here: http://competition.europeansoftball.org/2019/ostrava/schedule.php.

Below are the final standings from those first-round pools:

POOL A STANDINGS
Czech Republic (5-0)
France (4-1)
Sweden (3-2)
Belgium (2-3)
Slovakia (1-4)
Lithuania (0-5)

POOL B  STANDINGS
Italy (5-0)
Spain (4-1)
Israel (3-2)
Austria (2-3)
Ukraine (1-4)
Turkey (0-5)

POOL C STANDINGS
Netherlands (5-0)
Ireland (4-1)
Russia (3-2)
Poland (2-3)
Denmark (1-4)
Hungary (0-5) 

POOL D STANDINGS
Great Britain (4-0)
Greece (3-1)
Germany (2-2)
Switzerland (1-3)
Croatia (0-4)

The eight teams that have gone forward to the second round have formed two new pools, E and F:

POOL E
Great Britain
Czech Republic
Spain
Ireland

POOL F
Netherlands
Italy
France
Greece

One team will be eliminated from each pool at the end of this round, leaving the six teams that will advance to the Olympic Qualifier.  Scores so far in these pools are:

POOL E SCORES
Great Britain 8, Ireland 0 (5 inns)
Czech Republic 10, Spain 3 (6 inns)

POOL F SCORES
France 7, Greece 6
Netherlands 6, Italy 2

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