GB Women win bronze medal at the Europeans

Sat 6 Jul 2019

By Bob Fromer

Ostrava, Czech Republic: 6 July – Georgina Corrick gave the Czech Republic only three hits and a single consolation run in the seventh inning and Nerissa Myers hit a decisive three-run home run as the GB Women won the bronze medal game at the European Women’s Championship this afternoon, 5-1.

In fact, Georgina Corrick flirted with a no-hitter for much of the game, and the Czechs didn’t get their first hit until there were two out in the sixth inning.  Georgina only struck out five Czechs, but most of the balls they hit were weak ground balls or pop-ups.

Those anticipating another pitching duel between Georgina Corrick and Czech ace Veronika Peckova, like the tense 2-0 eight-inning GB win earlier in the week, were disappointed.  Peckova hasn’t been seen in the circle since Thursday and there were rumours that she was injured.  And though she was listed as the pitcher on the line-up card, it was Adela Linkova who started the game for the host team.

Two years ago in Italy, when GB beat the Czechs in a dramatic extra-inning bronze medal game to book a place at the 2018 World Championship in Japan, there was huge jubilation after the win.  Winning the bronze medal here was certainly good, especially after GB had lost their last two games to the Dutch and Italians, and the team played well behind Georgina Corrick’s effective pitching.

But there wasn’t quite the same response to this win, because there is a more important tournament down the road – the Europe/Africa Olympic Qualifier that starts in Utrecht on 23 July – where only a gold medal will do.

And everyone is aware that there is still a gap to close between GB and the teams that have beaten us here if we are going to fulfil the dream of a place in Tokyo, a far bigger prize than a European Championship medal of whatever colour.

“It was nice to win some bling here,” Assistant Coach Liz Knight said after the final, “even if it wasn’t exactly the colour we wanted.  But it all begins again in a couple of weeks.”


Unlucky start

Knowing that Veronika Peckova wasn’t available for the Czechs clearly took some pressure off this game for the GB players.  After the Czechs went down in order in the top of the first inning thanks to a diving catch by Katie Burge in left field to rob lead-off batter Veronika Klimpova of a hit, the GB offense started confidently against Adela Linkova, the first of three Czech pitchers.  But thanks to some bad luck, GB failed to score.

Lead-off hitter Sydney Brown ran the count to 3-2 and fouled off a number of pitches before drawing a walk, but was cut down trying to steal second base.  Aubrey Peterson smashed a line drive that was grabbed by Czech shortstop Ludmila Kucerkova.  Nerissa Myers turned on a pitch and lined it into the right field corner for a triple.  

But Alicja Wolny flied out to left field, so despite all the activity, GB hadn’t scored.

Both teams went down in order in the second inning – but then the GB coaches noticed that in listing Veronika Peckova as the pitcher and then replacing her at the start of the game, Czech Head Coach Vojtech Albrecht had mixed up numbers on the line-up card and a player not listed on the card was in the game.  By rule, the player who is mistakenly in the game has to go, and that was the starting pitcher Adela Linkova, who was replaced in the bottom of the third inning by Katelyn Humhej.


On the scoreboard

Chloe Wigington greeted Humhej with a line drive single to right centre field and Amie Hutchison bunted Chloe to second.  When Sydney Brown then beat out a bouncer to second base, GB had runners on first and third with only one out.  Then it was two outs, as Aubrey Peterson took a called third strike.

But that brought Nerissa Myers to the plate and she sliced a drive to left centre field and over the wall for a three-run home run that felt, even at that stage, as if it had decided the game.

Georgina Corrick and her defense continued to mow down the Czechs during the middle innings, and GB made the game safe with two more runs in the bottom of the fifth inning against the third Czech pitcher, Martina Blahova.

With one out, Amie Hutchison singled to centre field, but the Czechs cut Amie down at second base on Sydney Brown’s bunt.  However, Aubrey Peterson pushed a single into left field, and that meant Nerissa Myers was coming to the plate with two runners on once again.

Martina Blahova’s first pitch to Nerissa went to the backstop, the runners moved up to second and third, and first base was now open, so the Czechs signalled the intentional walk.  But Alicja Wolny made them pay, lining a single to centre field that brought in two more runs and extended the GB lead to 5-0.


End game

With two out in the top of the sixth inning, Veronika Klimpova broke up Georgina Corrick’s no-hitter with a bouncer up the middle that just eluded Sydney Brown’s attempt at what would have been a spectacular play.  But Tereza Jackesova popped out to shortstop to end the inning.

In the top of the seventh, the Czechs manufactured a consolation run on a lead-off single by Eva Rendlova, a sacrifice bunt and a single to centre field by Lucie Petraskova.  The large Czech crowd in the main stand and the right field bleachers – including six strategically placed and slightly bizarre cheerleaders – began to stir.

But Ludmila Kucerkova hit a shot that first base player Alicja Wolny snagged and stepped on first to double off Petraskova and end the game.
 

Results and final standings

In the only other games played today, Israel defeated Germany 4-2 to decide ninth place and the Netherlands and Italy faced off in the gold medal game.

This was won by Italy 3-2, their second European Championship out of the past three, and once again it was the veteran pitcher Greta Cecchetti who got the better of the Dutch.  Italy broke a 1-1 tie in the fifth inning with a two-run home run by Laura Vigna, and though a solo home run by Dutch third base player Virginie Anneveld in the sixth inning cut the margin to a single run, Cecchetti retired the Dutch in order in the bottom of the seventh inning. 

Final standings at the 2019 European Women’s Championship were:

1 – Italy
2 – Netherlands
3 – Great Britain
4 – Czech Republic
5 – Spain
6 – France
7 – Greece
8 – Ireland
9 – Israel
10 – Germany
11 – Russia
12 – Poland
13 – Austria
14 – Belgium
15 – Sweden
16 – Switzerland
17 – Croatia
18 – Ukraine
19 – Slovakia
20 – Denmark
21 – Lithuania
22 – Hungary
23 - Turkey
 

Statistics

GB second base player Nerissa Myers wound up near the top of the leaderboard in a number of offensive categories: second in batting average at .591, third in slugging percentage at 1.368 and second in on base percentage at .630, while Nerissa and GB first player Alicja Wolny were joint second in runs batted in with 17 each.

Georgina Corrick was fourth in the tournament among pitchers with a .276 ERA, third in batting average against at .221 and seventh in strikeouts with 29.

All but one of the 14 GB players who had at-bats in the tournament hit over .300, with Nerissa Myers leading at .591, followed by Alicja Wolny at .481.


Looking ahead

The GB Women’s Team will now scatter, with some players flying to Canada to play for the GB Under-22s and Under-18s in the Canada Cup, other players and staff going back to the UK and some going on holiday.

But everyone will meet up in Utrecht on Friday 19 July to prepare for the Olympic Qualifier and plan how to turn the defeats here against the Netherlands and Italy into victories that could take us to Tokyo.

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