OKLAHOMA CITY, Oklahoma (USA) - The Dutch National Softball Team had a strong opening day of the World Cup of Softball on Thursday, beating Italy 6-2, then losing only 7-2 to Team USA.
In the opening game, the Dutch Team played convincingly against reigning European champion and archrival Italy.
After taking an 1-0 lead, Italy came back when veteran Daniela Castellani hit a 2-run homerun, but the Dutch recovered immediately and answered with three runs.
Single runs were then added in the fifth and sixth inning to raise the lead to 6-2.
In the evening, the Dutch Team faced reigning world champion USA, but that game was postponed and started more than an hour later than scheduled, due to a severe thunderstorm which passed over Oklahoma City.
Team Manager Paul Boonstra and Media Officer Marco Stoovelaar drove early to the stadium for the pre-game preparations and on their way to the field, it startened to darken quickly.
During their drive, the two saw a tornado being formed under the thick dark clouds, but it never was completed.
Once in the stadium, it started to thunder, then a heavy lighting followed.
As the winds suddenly started to strengthen in power, everyone in the stadium was ordered to move into the basement by stadium security, as a tornado-warning was issued.
In the basement, Paul and Marco were in the company of Coaches Nancy Evans and Tiffany McDonald, who already were in the stadium to do scouting on the previous game.
Also in the basement was Dutch umpire Rob Veldkamp, who had worked the previous game and was scheduled to do the game following the Netherlands-USA game.
While in the basement, there was heavy rain outside, but the treat of a tornado never became reality (fortunately).
However, there was some heavy hail (the size of golf balls) and due to the heavy lighting, the electricity was blacked out, as some trees were blown over and fell on electric wires, leaving some 29.000 households without power.
There was no electricity in the stadium, meaning everything had to be powered up again, including the huge scoreboard, but also all the equipment of ESPN, which was to broadcast the game live.
In the end, power was restored.
In the meantime, the grounds crew did a great job working on the field, putting advertising boards (which were blown away) back in its place on the outfield fence and preparing the field for the game.
They succeeded in that and because of their work, the game could start an hour later than scheduled.
Team USA initally took a 2-0 lead, but the Dutch came back to tie the score off starter Stacey Nelson when the American defense made some errors.
With the score tied, the Americans got two runners on base in the third inning off starter Femke van Dusschoten, who was then replaced by Rebecca Soumeru.
She faced Jenae Leles, who then hit a 3-run homerun to give Team USA a 5-2 lead.
Next, Team USA opted for security and brought in pitching ace Jennie Finch who silenced the Dutch offense, striking out eleven batters.
Hereafter, the Americans added two more runs, but needed seven innings to defeat the Dutch Team, whom they had beaten more convincingly twice (two shutouts) during last weeks Canada Cup Tournament.
Dutch umpire Rob Veldkamp was at first base in the Australia vs. Japan game and behind the plate in the Italy vs. Canada match-up
Netherlands vs. Italy
A look into the scorebox of the stadium
In this corner, the sound system and scoreboard are being operated
Meike Witteveen returns the balls during batting practice
Physical Therapist Anouk Fermont with host Robert Pittman
Dackmar? No, DaGGGmar! Public Address Announcer Chad Gilbert goes over the
pronounciations of the Dutch names with Pitcher Dagmar Bloeming
The Umpire Crew in the Netherlands vs. Italy game
1B John Orlowski (USA), HP Motoichi Ueda (Japan), 2B Bonnie Gostola (Canada)
and 3B Kevin Broomhall (Australia)
The team listens to the scouting details of Coach Nancy Evans
Team Manager Paul Boonstra with ISF-President Don Porter (right) and
Ron Radigonda, the Executive Director of the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) (left)
Media Oficer Marco Stoovelaar also poses with Don Porter and Ron Radigonda
Solange Starrenburg enters the field during introductions
ISF President Don Porter throws out the ceremonial first pitch to catcher Nathalie Timmermans
Dutch pitchers Kirsten Scheele and Dagmar Bloeming
Italian pitchers Leslie Malerich, Michela Musitelli and Daniela Castellani
No happy faces for Italian coaches Monica Corvino and Paola Marfoglia
Petra van Heijst is caught stealing at third base in the 2nd inning
Daniela Castellani is greeted at home after her 2-run homerun in the third inning
Britt Vonk turns to bunt in the third at bat
Petra van Heijst and Chantal Versluis in the dug-out
Nancy Evans coaching at first base
Petra van Heijst at bat
Solange Starrenburg, Karin Tuk and Saskia Kosterink
look on from the dug-out with the Dutch team batting
Nathalie Timmermans reaches second base safely in the 3rd inning
Virginie Anneveld playing at third base
Meike Witteveen and Saskia Kosterink hitting
Britt Vonk scores the fist Dutch run in the first inning
Nathalie Timmermans running at first base
Playing at first base is Cristina Rolla, who plays for Iber Lengua Terrasvogels in the Dutch league
Chantal Versluis playing at short
Britt Vonk at first base
Meike Witteveen slides in head-first and scores the go-ahead run in the third inning
Virginie Anneveld connects
Areke Spel running from second base
Catcher Nathalie Timmermans checks the dug-out
Pitcher Kirsten Scheele looks on from the dug-out
Britt Vonk bunts
Dagmar Bloeming earned a save by throwing three perfect innings
The team celebrates the win vs. Italy
While driving to the stadium, Media Officer Marco Stoovelaar and Team Manager Paul Boonstra
saw a tornado being formed (center of photo) in an approaching severe thunderstorm
The severe thunderstrom comes closer...
...and arrives at the stadium
What follows is a lot of thunder with a spectacular lightning show
While it rains, suddenly, the wind starts to strenghten and everyone is ordered to move to
the basement of the stadium as a tornado-warning is being issued
The winds gets stronger
Dutch umpire Rob Veldkamp already is in the basement when Paul and Marco arrive
When it is allowed to get outside again, there was a heavy pooring of hail,
the size of golf balls
Advertisement boards are being put back onto the outfield fence
A big tarpolin covers the field during the rain
About an hour later, the weather clears
One of the trees that was blown apart during the storm
Netherlands vs. USA
When the team arrives at the field, Coach Nancy Evans gives some instructions
Listening are (left to right) Solange Starrenburg, Areke Spel,
Saskia Kosterink and Karin Tuk
A young fan admires the Dutch Team
As does another young softball-fan
The Umpire Crew for the Netherlands vs. USA game:
1B Bonnie Gostola (Canada), HP John Orlowski (USA), 2B Kevin Broomhall (Australia)
and 3B Motoichi Ueda (Japan)
One of the eight ESPN-camera's that covered the game against the USA
Virginie Anneveld takes something to eat
As the field crew needs more time to prepare the field and ESPN needs more time to
restore power, the Team relaxes in the VIP-lounge
Meike Witteveen adds a Dutch yell to the wall-board in the VIP-lounge
The players look at the championship photos in the VIP-lounge
Two more familiar faces in one of the photos, the 2002 champion University of California
Second from left in the second row from the bottom is Kaleo Eldredge (current coach of
Computer SOS Tex Town Tigers) and next to her is former DSC '74-pitcher Jocelyn Forest
Media Officer Marco Stoovelaar has his moment with the four stadium entertainment
girls, who performed a game between one of the innings
And here they are with some of the Dutch players
The scoreboard explains the situation to the specators
ESPN-commentators Eric Collins and Michelle Smith (two-time Gold Medalist USA Softball Team)
are ready for tonight's game in the ESPN commentator's booth
HP Umpire John Orlowski gets a microphone from one of the ESPN technicians
Head Coaches Craig Montvidas and Jay Miller meet with the umpires
Joey Rich, the President of the Amateur Softball Association
throws out the ceremonial first pitch
The team lines up for the national anthem
ESPN broadcast the Netherlands vs. USA game live, as they did with all American games
American starter Stacey Nelson
Dutch starter Femke van Dusschoten
Natasha Watley leaves first base after hitting a single in the first inning
The 'Red Hat', an ESPN-technician signals to the HP Umpire when the game
can resume again after the commercial breaks between innings
Nathalie Gosewehr at second base in the third inning
USA-ace Jennie Finch took over the pitching in the fourth inning
Despite the storm earlier, the game was well-visited