Dutch Team repeats as European champion!
REDIPUGLIA / RONCHI DEI LEGIONARI (Italy) -
On Saturday, August 6, the Dutch National Softball Team again captured the European title after winning the final vs. Italy convincingly with a 10-2 score.
For the first time in history, the final game ended through the mercy-rule and also for the first time, the final ended with a walk-off homerun.
But there was more.
The Dutch Team also became the first team to start and end an European Championship with a homerun.
Last Sunday, Chantal Versluis led off the first game of the tournament against Ukraine with a homerun and tonight, Saskia Kosterink ended the final game with a homerun.
The Dutch Team captured the European title on the same field where is won the final of the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in 2007 to qualify for the Olympic Games of 2008 in Beijing (China).
In both tournaments, Saskia Kosterink scored the final run!
Four years ago, Saskia scored the winning run of a 3-2 victory in the final against Italy, today she scored the 10th and last run against the Italian squad.
Besides hitting a 2-run homerun to end the game, Saskia also hit a 3-run double in the first inning that opened the score for the Dutch Team.
The Dutch Team opened the game strongly to take a quick 4-0 lead off Italian starter Stella Turazzi.
The righthander walked lead-off hitter Chantal Versluis, who then advanced on a single by Meike Witteveen.
The bases were then loaded when Britt Vonk also walked.
Next, Saskia Kosterink connected for her 3-run double to make it 3-0.
It marked the end for Stella Turazzi, who was quickly replaced by Mara Papucci.
Moments later, Saskia scored the fourth run in the opening at bat, as Virginie Anneveld, the first batter to face Papucci, tripled.
The new Italian pitcher then got three outs, but the damage had been done!
Dutch starter Lindsey Meadow walked a batter with two outs and hit the next one in the first inning, but then followed with a strikeout.
After walking the lead-off hitter in the second at bat, Lindsey followed with three outs, including two strikeouts.
After the walk, Lindsey retired the next nine batters in a row.
In the second, third and fourth inning, the Dutch offense was silenced by Mara Papucci, but got back into action from the fifth inning on.
In the fifth inning, then tension got back in the game briefly when new Dutch pitcher Rebecca Soumeru ran into problems.
Rebecca replaced Lindsey Meadows, who had thrown four hitless innings.
The veteran pitcher gave up a lead-off single to pinch-hitter Valentina Marazzi, then an one-out single to Sandra Bosdachin.
After a flyout, Michela Vitaliani also singled to load the bases.
Next, Andrea Montanari walked to bring in the first Italian run and Rebecca was replaced by Dagmar Bloeming.
She initially started by walking Alice Fiorio, which led to the second Italian run and made it a 4-2 score, but Dagmar then got out of the basesloaded jam by striking out Valeria Bortolomai (who struckout three times).
The Dutch offense reacted immediately after the two Italian runs in the fifth inning and rallied for three runs to take another commanding 7-2 lead.
Areke Spel led off with a double and moved to third base when an error was made on a sacrifice bunt by Chantal Versluis.
An infield-hit by Meike Witteveen then accounted for a run.
With two outs, the bases were loaded when Virginie Anneveld (who played in her 50th international game for the Dutch squad) singled.
Hereafter, the Dutch attack continued, as Nathalie Gosewehr and Solange Starrenburg also singled to bring in two more runs and increase the lead to 7-2.
After the Italians were held scoreless by Dagmar Bloeming in the sixth inning, the Dutch Team continued its dominance in its own sixth at bat.
With two outs, Meike Witteveen reached when leftfielder Bianca Novelli dropped a fly.
By the way, during last years World Championship in Venezuela, Novelli played for the national team of South Africa.
Normally, a three year-period is needed for players to switch from one country to another to participate in an Olympic Games, World Championship or Qualifying Tournament for one of these events.
As this European Championship also was a Qualifier for the 2012 World Championship, Novelli normally would have needed the 3-year waiting period.
But according to a line in the player eligibility rules of the International Softball Federation, this can change when the Federations of the countries involved agree, as well as the Board of Directors of the ISF.
The strange thing to this rule is that only the Federations of the two countries involved (in this case South Africa and Italy) have to agree, instead of the Federations of the countries involved in a specific tournament, which would be more reasonable, as they of course have to face the player involved.
Maybe something to look into for future considerations.
OK, back to the game, after Novelli dropped the fly ball, Meike advanced to third base and then scored when Britt Vonk singled.
Next, Saskia Kosterink hit an 0-1 pitch over the centerfield for a towering, 2-run, walk-off homerun, as it lifted the lead to 10-2 and therefore ending the game through the mercy-rule (minimum of 7 runs difference).
Saskia's homerun triggered an outburst of celebrations on the Dutch side, as it has successfully prolonged its European title.
A European title it reached step by step.
The Dutch Team now has won 18 games in a row on an European Championship, as it also remained unbeaten in the nine games played during the European Championship of two years ago in Valencia (Spain).
After the first celebrations, players and staffmembers of the Dutch Team got specially made European Champion-shirts, provided by Yoorna, which also designed shirts for the Dutch fans.
Then, it was time for the Closing and Awards Ceremony.
Dagmar Bloeming was named Best Pitcher and Virginie Anneveld Most Valuable Player.
Eliska Cerna-Pojerova of the Czech Republic was the Best Hitter with a .625 batting average.
Virginie was second best with a .591 average, while Solange Starrenburg was the fifth best hitter of the event, hitting .500.
Dutch players led the event in several categories.
Solange Starrenburg had the highest Slugging Average (1.182), hit the most Triples (4) and had the most Total Bases (26).
Virginie Anneveld scored the most Runs (10) together with Meike Witteveen and Tatiana Sorokina (Russia) and Tereza Jakesova (Czech Republic).
Virginie also had the most Basehits (13) and this combined with her eleven Runs Batted In contributed in naming her the MVP of the tournament.
Dagmar Bloeming led the event with an 0.33 Earned Run Average.
She gave up only 12 Basehits and two Runs (only one earned), which both were best in the tournament.
As a team, the Netherlands led the Championship in Batting Average (.434), Slugging Average (.746), On Base Percentage (.485), Runs Scored (90), Basehits (99), Runs Batted In (79), Doubles (18), Triples (16), Homeruns (7), Total Bases (170), Earned Run Average (0.58), Victories (9), Hits Allowed (23), Runs Allowed (5), Fewest Walks Allowed (9) and Fielding Percentage (.979) to underscore its dominance during this years Championship.
During the Closing Ceremony, ESF-President André van Overbeek closed the event, thanked everyone and mentioned the fact that all games could be followed for the first time live through a play-by-play.
Also, for the first time this year the former A- and B-pool were combined into one big event, resulting in a recordsetting total of 20 participating countries.
Another record, was the umpire corps that included 20 international umpires, including Dutchman Rob Veldkamp.
In closing the recap of this years European Championship, the players and staff-members of the Dutch National Softball Team want to thank their family members and friends, who supported us not only in Italy, but throughout the entire year.
Your support again has been of great value to us!
But also we thank our sponsors and providers and of course, everyone at the practice facility in Nieuwegein.
Besides that, we want to thank the opponents during this years Holland Tour to prepare for the Championship and all umpires and official scorers during this tour.
We also want to hand out a thank you to the organisors and volunteers of the European Championship in Italy.
You did a great job!
It has been another wonderful summer for Dutch softball!
In a few weeks, the preparations will start for the 2012 international softball-season, which include the World Championship in Canada.
To be continued!
In the morning, the team poses at the swimming pool at the hotel in Redipuglia
The entire event, Lindsey Meadows polished her nails orange and with the Dutch flag
On the final day, she even polished the nails of Media Officer and Scorekeeper Marco Stoovelaar
(photo taken by Paul Boonstra)
The result of Lindsey's art work
(photo taken by Paul Boonstra)
The orange wooden shoes are ready to complete the last leg of their journey
The wooden shoes approach home plate and the European title step by step
The 5-man umpire crew for the final game of the 2011 European Championship
3B Jan Hora (Czech Republic), LF Zdenek Zidek (Croatia), HP Juan Maestre (Spain),
1B Manfred Szieber (Austria) and RF Howie Litz (Israel)
Ready to start infield-practices for the last time this tournament
The Dutch fans are ready to support the team again
ESF-President André van Overbeek (right) with Johan Snoeks and Johan Kluijskens of the
Organizing Committee for the World Softball Championship 2014,
which is proposed to be staged in the city of Haarlem in The Netherlands
Head Coaches Craig Montvidas and Marina Centrone shake hands and meet the umpires
The orange wooden shoes look on during the player introductions
The 5-man umpire crew also looks on
The Italian players are introduced
The final also was broadcasted live again
Then it's time to introduce the Dutch players, like Nathalie Timmermans
After the introductions are completed...
...the teams listen to the National Anthems...
...which are both sung by two singers
Lindsey Meadows is ready to start the final, which is attended by 4000 spectators
Lindsey Meadows threw the first four innings, struckout five and gave up no hits
The players look on and cheer in the dug-out
One of the balls of the all-deciding game of this Championship
Italian pitcher Stella Turazzi, who had a rough start and was replaced after four batters
Chantal Versluis led off the first inning with a walk
Standing in front of her is 1B Priscilla Brandi, in the back umpire Manfred Szieber
Pitching Coach Monica Corvino talks with pitcher Stella Turazzi and catcher Valeria Bortolomai
In the meantime, Head Coach Craig Montvidas has a talk with Chantal Versluis,
who had advanced to third base in a basesloaded situation
Saskia Kosterink moments before clearing the bases with a 3-run double
Desparate looks on the faces of Italian Head Coach Marina Centrone and Pitching Coach Monica Corvino
A smiling Saskia Kosterink at second base; moments later she scores the fourth run
Activities in the Dutch dug-out during the 4-run first inning rally
Mara Papucci took over the pitching
Areke Spel standing in rightfield
Veteran short stop Eva Trevisan with part of the Dutch fans in the background
Lindsey Meadows shined in her four innings
Pitching Coach Karen Marr has a talk with pitcher Rebecca Soumeru
and the infielders after Italy scored in the fifth inning
Rebecca Soumeru ran into problems in the fifth at bat
Dagmar Bloeming took over the pitching and got out of a basesloaded jam with a strikeout
Celebration time! The European title is prolonged!
Players are wearing the specially made European Softball Champion-shirts, provided by Yoorna
Coaches Tracy Bunge and Karen Marr with Physical Therapist Anouk Fermont
Britt Vonk expresses her mood
The Dutch Team thanks the supporters
And especially, the Dutch fans
The cups and trophies of the 17th European Championship
The European Champion poses with Tournament-mascot Opo
Volunteer Romina (from Malta), who was the Dutch liaison officer during this event, with Rebecca Soumeru
ESF-President André van Overbeek during his closing remarks
Totoni Sanna, 1st Vice President of the ESF, addresses the crowd
Dagmar Bloeming is embraced by Opo after being named Best Pitcher
Dagmar Bloeming with her plaque
Most Valuable Player Virginie Anneveld with Opo and Chief Technical Commissioner Bob Kessler
Virginie Anneveld shows her plaque
Virginie Anneveld and Dagmar Bloeming, the two Dutch individual award winners
During the Awards ceremony, it started to rain (which was very welcome at the moment after a hot week)
Players and staff applaud when the European Cup is handed out...
...to team-captains Saskia Kosterink and Rebecca Soumeru
Then, the fireworks began...
...and the celebrations
Lindsey Meadows shows that the Dutch Team is the best again in Europe
The players look to the fireworks
Nathalie Timmermans, Areke Spel and Lindsey Meadows show their medals...
...as do Britt Vonk and Virginie Anneveld
Then, the official European Cup is handed out to the Dutch Team
Players and staff sing the Wilhelmus, the Dutch National Anthem
The ball that Saskia Kosterink hit for her towering 2-run, walk-off homerun
Head Coach Craig Montvidas has a last talk with his players
Anne Blaauwgeers with her twin-sister Maaike
Best Pitcher Dagmar Bloeming signs an autograph
Meike Witteveen, Solange Starrenburg and Merel Ooosterveld with their medals
A special moment: Virginie Anneveld shows her leg with the four leaf pepperwort she found before the game
At right is Anne Blaauwgeers
The celebrations then continue after the Closing & Awards Ceremony