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European Championships - Day 7 - Thursday, July 30

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Dutch one-runs Italy and qualify for World Championships!

VALENCIA (Spain) - The Dutch National Softball Team opened the second round of the European Championships in Valencia on Thursday-morning with an 1-0, 8-inning, tie-break victory in a thriller against rival Italy. On Thursday-evening, the Dutch Team won a 2 1/2 hour thriller against Great Britain 3-2 in nine innings, coming back from an early 2-0 deficit in the first inning. This victory meant that the Dutch Team will return, in less than a year from now, to Oklahoma City, as it qualified for next years World Championships after winning against the British squad. The Dutch Team scored in the fifth and seventh inning to come alongside, then won the game in the ninth on a squeeze by Areke Spel, scoring Britt Vonk. The Netherlands vs. Britain game followed another extra inning thriller on this Hitchcockian day in which Germany came from behind to win 4-3 in eight innings vs. Italy. It was a day full of excitement, as four games had to go into extra innings. While the Dutch were playing the Italians, Great Britain won 1-0 vs. Russia in eight innings.

The Dutch Team played against Italy in the morning, but the starting line-up had to be adjusted a few minutes before game-time. Chantal Versluis, who was to be the starting short stop in this game, was hit on her eye by a ball. During pre-game preparations, in the warm-up area behind the outfield, a grounder made an unusual bounce on the (non-leveled) grass into Chantal's face. She was treated by Physical Therapist Anouk Fermont and initially it looked like she could start, but out of precaution, Chantal was taken out of the line-up. Later in the game, complete with a black eye, Chantal did participate as a pinch-runner.

The game was a pitching duel by Rebecca Soumeru and Leslie Malerich. Both got several baserunners, but were supported with fine defensive plays. In the first Italian at bat, Andrea Montanari led off with a single, but was then eliminated after she slid over second base after advancing on a sacrifice bunt. In the home of the first, Britt Vonk singled with two outs, stole second, then tried to score on a single by Saskia Kosterink, but was thrown out at the plate.

In the second inning, Italian pinch-runner Veronica Fontana stranded at third base, as Rebecca ended the inning with a strikeout and a grounder. In the fourth at bat, 3B Virginie Anneveld made a great play on a hard grounder by lead-off batter Sabrina Del Mastio, but then Italy got runners on first and third base. This time, a foul-fly and groundout ended the inning and then Italy left another runner on third base in the fifth at bat.

Italian starter Leslie Malerich retired nine batters in a row from the second through fourth inning, but then the Dutch Team started to get things moving. In the home of the fifth, Nathalie Timmermans led off with a single and was replaced by pinch-runner Chantal Versluis, but her appearance was brief, as she was eliminated in a double play. With two outs, Virginie Anneveld was hit by a pitch and tried to advance to third base on a single by Nadine Marinus, but was thrown out there, colliding with 3B Christina Rolla (who plays in the Dutch League for Iber Lengua Terrasvogels), who held onto the ball.

After Rebecca retired the side in the sixth, the Dutch Team got another scoring opportunity in its sixth. Petra van Heijst led off with a single, advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Nathalie Gosewehr and a passed ball, but stranded at third base. Two beautiful plays then followed in the seventh and eighth inning. In the top of the seventh, veteran Daniela Castellani led off with a single, moved on a sacrifice bunt by Kaitlyn Gentile, but then was caught stealing at third base in a strikeout-double play on a great throw by catcher Nathalie Timmermans to 3B Virginie Anneveld to end the inning. The two had a similar play in the eighth (tie-break) inning. With one out, tie-break runner Sara Avanzi tried to steal third base, but also was thrown out in another great play by Virginie at third. A foul fly then ended the Italian at bat. In the eighth Dutch inning, the Team struck off new pitcher Lisa Birocci, who had taken over for starter Leslie Malerich in the seventh inning. Lisa Birocci was added to the Italian squad after coming back from the World Cup of Softball in Oklahoma City. With tie-break pinch-runner Anne Blaauwgeers on second base, batter Nadine Marinus was walked intentionally to set-up a force play. After the two advanced on a nice sacrifice bunt by Petra van Heijst, the bases were loaded and another force play was created when Nathalie Gosewehr also was walked intentionally. Next, Karin Tuk was brought in as pinch-hitter and she hit a sharp grounder towards short stop Sara Avanzi, who only could make a play at first base, but it enabled Anne to score the winning run and end the more than 2-hour thriller. Another one was to follow in the evening!

In the evening, the Dutch Team returned to the playing field for its next game in the second round, this time against Great Britain. Almost 2 1/2 hours later, the winning run was scored in the ninth inning, as another thriller was played. It was the third such game of the day, as Italy followed its game against the Dutch with a 4-3 loss in eight innings against Germany, which was a major upset in the tournament! This game preceeded the Dutch vs. Britain game, which therefore started more than an hour later than scheduled.

The Dutch Team faced an early 2-0 deficit in the first inning. With one out, Dutch pitcher Dagmar Bloeming hit Laura Thompson (one of two players with the same name!). Then, with two outs, Stacie Townsend showed how valuable she is this week for the British squad by hitting a homerun to put her team ahead, 2-0. For the British team, the scoring ended here, as Dagmar threw a great game, striking out ten batters and giving up only five basehits. After giving up the homerun, Dagmar struckout the next five batters in order and would give up only two hits in the next five innings, before giving up two in the seventh at bat. But all these hits did no harm, as only one runner reached second base through the seventh. Dagmar was supported with some fine defensive plays, including a nice play by 3B Virginie Anneveld that ended the fourth inning (which was when the lone runner had reached second base) and a fine catch by rightfielder Areke Spel that ended the sixth inning.

The Dutch offense initially was silenced by pitcher Stacie Townsend. After giving up a lead-off single to Nathalie Gosewehr in the first inning (she was then caught stealing), Stacie retired eleven batters in a row, before giving up a lead-off single to Nathalie Timmermans in the fifth at bat. Nathalie then advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Areke Spel and scored on a 2-out single by Solange Starrenburg. While batting in the fourth inning, the Dutch at bat was interrupted for three minutes as the field sprinklers suddenly started to work.

While leading 2-1, the British coaching decided to change pitchers in the sixth inning and brought in Hayley Punter. In the seventh inning, she gave up a bunt-single to lead-off hitter Britt Vonk, who then advanced on a wild pitch. Next, Nathalie Timmermans reached on an infield-single, which was followed by a throwing error, enabling Britt to score the tying run and force extra innings. Hereafter, Stacie Townsend was brought back as pitcher, but the harm has been done.

In the eighth and ninth tie-break innings, both British runners stranded at third base. In the ninth, the British had runners on first and third with two outs, but then the runner from first base was caught stealing to end the at bat. In the Dutch eighth, the bases got loaded with no outs. Tie-break runner Solange Starrenburg advanced on an infield-hit by Petra van Heijst. Chantal Versluis (back in the starting line-up) then was walked intentionally to create a force play, but then Stacie Townsend struckout the next two batters and ended with a groundout. She wasn't that fortunate in the ninth inning. Tie-break runner Britt Vonk moved to third base on a sacrifice bunt by Nathalie Timmermans and then scored the winning run when Areke Spel followed with a perfect squeeze bunt to end the game. With the 3-2 win, the Dutch Team not only remained unbeaten, it also secured itself of at least a third place finish in this European Championship, meaning it qualified for next years World Championships in Oklahoma City.

And so, around 11:30 PM, a thrilling, but succesfull day came to an end.

Box Score Game Netherlands vs. Italy
Box Score Game Netherlands vs. Great Britain
Schedule European Championships

Today's scores
Pool C (championship round)Pool D (relegation round)
Czech Republic vs. Germany7-0 (6)Austria vs. Spain3-1
Great Britain vs. Russia1-0 (8)France vs. Slovakia8-2
Netherlands vs. Italy1-0 (8)
Germany vs. Italy4-3 (8)
Netherlands vs. Great Britain3-2 (9)
Russia vs. Czech Republic5-6

The Team is back in the dug-out after pre-game preparations

The Team then gets scouting details from Coach Nancy Evans

The Umpire-crew for the Netherlands vs. Italy game:
1B Galip Sonmez (Germany), HP Martin Moravcík (Slovakia) and 3B Jess Sandhu (Great Britain)

The Head Coaches of the Netherlands and Italy meet with the Umpires

The two teams are ready to line up before the game on another beautiful day

Rebecca Soumeru, who threw a 5-hitter vs. Italy

Italian pitchers Leslie Malerich and Lisa Birocci

Andrea Montanari leads off the first inning for Italy with a single
She then beats the throw to second base on a sacrifice bunt by next batter Sabrina Del Mastio...

...but overran the base and could be tagged out after all by short stop Britt Vonk
Moments later, Umpire Jess Sandhu will change his call from 'safe' to 'out'

In the first Dutch at bat, Britt Vonk singles with two outs...

...and then steals second base...

...Britt advances to third base on this infield-hit by Saskia Kosterink, but...

...is then thrown out at the plate when she tried to score

While beating the throw to first base, Saskia Kosterink injures her ankle
She completes the game, but is sidelined in the next two games
Physical Therapist Anouk Fermont and Coach Nancy Evans support Saskia

Players Chantal Versluis, Anne Blaauwgeers and Femke van Dusschoten,
Business Manager Rich Hooff, Media Officer/Scorer Marco Stoovelaar and Coach Nancy Evans
follow the action from the 'dug-out'

A look at the Dutch supporters

During the game, our 'dug-out' had to be repaired

Sitting behind the backstop were the game officials
In this case Chief Technical Commissioner Bob Milosavljevic (left) and Official Scorers
Esther Vargas and Beatriz Morales. Dutch Boardmember Gerben Hardeveld is visible in the center

Dutch players look on from the 'dug-out'

With Virginie Anneveld on first base in the fifth inning, Nadine Marinus singles

Virginie Anneveld moments before colliding with 3B Christina Rolla
moments later, but the latter held onto the ball and Virginie was tagged out to end the inning

The collission between Virginie and Christina, but luckily both could continue the game

In the sixth inning, Petra van Heijst leads off with a single,
moves to second base on a sacrifice bunt, but later strands at third base

Italian veteran Daniela Castellani singled in the seventh inning,
but was caught stealing in an inning-ending double play

In the seventh inning, Areke Spel, who walks with two outs, is left behind on first base

Head Coach Craig Montvidas has a talk with his team

One of the great plays by 3B Virginie Anneveld
Here, she eliminates Sara Avanzi who tries to steal in the eighth inning

Pinch-runner Anne Blaauwgeers is the Dutch tie-break runner at second base in the 8th inning

After next batter Nadine Marinus is walked intentionally, Anne and Nadine
then move to the next base on this sacrifice bunt by Petra van Heijst

When next batter Nathalie Gosewehr is also walked intentionally, the bases are loaded
Hereafter Karin Tuk then grounds the ball to short...

...but that enables Anne Blaauwgeers to score the winning run

Karin Tuk is hugged by Saskia Kosterink (16) after batting in the winning run

The players of the Netherlands and Italy shake hands

The Dutch players thank their supporters

Head Coach Craig Montvidas is congratulated by his son Taylor
Coach Nancy Evans looks on

After the game, there is time to spend some moments with family-members

Luckily, Chantal Versluis can smile after the game after being hit
on her eye during a pre-game grounder hit by Coach Nancy Evans

The Dutch players have to wait some longer for their game against Great Britain to start,
as the match between Italy and Germany is tied after seven innings (3-3)

KNBSB-President Ruud van Zetten goes on his knees for the Dutch Team

Dutch umpire Carolien Stadhouders and French HP Umpire Franck Lautier
check with Umpire-in-Chief Marlies Struyvé who the tie-break runner will be
in the game between Italy and Germany

The drama unfolding
Centerfielder Andrea Montanari is in tears after dropping a fly ball,
while Germany celebrates in the background after winning 4-3

The Umpire-crew for the Netherlands vs. Great Britain game:
3B Martin Moravcík (Slovakia), HP Galip Sonmez (Germany) and 1B Radomir Tuma (Czech Republic)

The game was played under a bright moon
The square in the center denotes the area where Apollo 11 landed 40 years ago,
putting the first human beings on the moon on July 20, 1969

The parents of Areke Spel (Ben and Marjanne) and Virginie Anneveld
(Paul and Gilberte) and family-dog Bruce watched the game from the outfield

The game vs. Great Britain was played under artificial lights, which wasn't sufficient
enough and spread an orange colour (the latter of course gave us a good feeling!)

The players line up for the team introductions

The players of both teams are ready to exchange gifts after the line-up

Head Coaches Craig Montvidas and Hayley Scott have their meeting with the umpires

Dutch pitcher Dagmar Bloeming, who struckout ten and gave up five hits

British pitcher Stacie Townsend, who also struckout ten batters and gave up five hits

In the first inning, Stacie Townsend put the British ahead with a 2-run homerun

The fourth inning is briefly interrupted when the field sprinklers suddenly begin to work

(thanks to Ed Kosterink for submitting several photos)

For suggestions, questions or requests mail to Media Officer/Webmaster Marco Stoovelaar: stoov@dutchsoftballteam.com

Last Update: August 15, 2009
Copyright Photos © 2008-2009 Marco Stoovelaar.
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