Starting pools are over, let’s look at the top 8
The favorites of this year’s championship are doing well so far, winning all of their games and getting through their pools without any hesitation. On Tuesday’s afternoon, we’ve seen an ecnounter of two of them, Russia and Great Britain, who played a wonderful game. Russia was the luckier one by the end to grab a win.
The Italians have played three games so far and all of them were ended by a difference. At first, they defeated Poland 9-0 in the fifth inning. Marina Centrone told us, she’s satisfied with the performance as the team played fantastic and that they have a strong, fast and strong-minded team over here. On Monday, they’ve beaten Ukraine 7-0 and France 15-0. „We played two games today, but a team willing to go far has to be ready for these situations. We didn’t have any problems winning this one, the players played well and I’m very happy about the final result,“ said the Italian manager Marina Centrone after the victory over France.
The British women started the tournament with a tough game facing the Germans in their strong pool with the Russian team as well and managed to win by two runs, taking advantage of the opponent’s errors. However, in the second day they played the Danish and managed to win early in the fourth inning with 20-1 scoreline by the end. „Denmark and Germany are both great teams. There is a difference just the Germans play this game for a while, but the Danish are right in the beginning. We played well at bat this time, but we await more difficult games against the Israelis and mainly the Russians,“ said Hayley Scott after the second game. The Israelis were beaten in top of third inning 15-0, but the Russians were too strong for the British and managed to beat them by a single run difference 8-7.
Home team is always under a certain pressure, but the Czechs are handling this well so far as they’ve won all of their four games with shutouts in defense. On the first day, they defeated Switzerland 12-0 and evening the Austrians with three runs late in the seventh 3-0. „We knew Martina Lackner is a high-quality pitcher, who can be an obstacle in our way. We had to stay calm and trust we’ll manage to turn it around. The didn’t have any other pitcher on the same level and with the same experiences as Martina Lackner,“ said Vojtech Albrecht. Then, the home side won also over Belgium 11-0 and over Hungary 16-0.
The Spanish fought in the 4-members pool C for the second place behind the Netherlands, with which they lost the opening game 10-0. Then they managed to beat the Slovaks 5-2 in the important encounter, that redirected them onto the second place. However, the final step wasn’t easy for sure as the Croatian team still had a real chance to get through, but the Spanish won 9-0 in the end. „We knew it is a key game, because it will decide about the second place. We’re happy to win this one since we were in lead after the second inning. If we’ll show our best, we can beat even the Russians or the Czechs,“ summarizes Elisa Aguilar, head coach of team Spain.
The current cup holders have started well getting a comfort win on the opening game as they defeated Spain 10-0 after four innings. Craig Montvidas then said: „I think Spain was really aggressive and what maybe hurt them in the beginning were illegal pitches by their pitcher. They made one or two errors as well and our team is strong when our opponent makes errors. We take advantage of them.“ The second game of the Dutch ended with the exactly same result after beating Croatia this time. „I have to say, the Croatians did a great job. We have now a comfort position for the quarterfinal group and our main goal remains to get through our pool from the first place. Our team is ready for the play-offs,“ said Montvidas after the second game. In the third one with Slovakia, they won 17-0.
The Russians won first game against Israel clearly 9-1 and then against Denmark 8-0, which aimed them towards the first place, but they had to confirm their strength in games against Germany and Great Britain. Both of them looked very tough and the Russians managed to win them in the last minutes. With Germany, they had to play a tie-breaker after a runless 7 innings and were losing 3-0 after top of 8th. Anyhow, they scored four times and turned the game around to eliminate Germans from the tournament. Against the British, they won 8-7 with another fantastic turnover in the second half of game. „We have the strongest team in last years, despite it’s for sure the youngest one,“ Russian player Eygenia Egiazarova said after the game with Great Britain.
The Swedish played their opening game against Ukraine and won 7-0. On Monday, they have defeated also the Polish 6-0 and maybe started to think about the first place. Next day morning, they won over France in a dramatic tight game 2-1 and went to face the Italians in a game for the first place. However, Italy was just stronger and won 7-0 after six innings. „I am really disappointed, but I know Italy is very strong. It looked like we lost our energy, which we had in a game with France. I believe, we’ll get back strong for the play-offs,“ Mattias Grimstopf summarized it.
Last member of the pool F is team Austria, who competed in the group with the home team. At first, the Austrians have lost to the Czechs 3-0 after showing a great performance fighting for a win until last inning. Then, they defeated the Swiss on a second matchday 16-3 and Hungary on Tuesday 10-0. „We did well in defense against Hungary and in fourth inning, we woke up, started to play agressively, improved our batting and played well in field. We have expected a similar final result,“ Marcel Kratochwil said. The last game with Belgium was therefore the crucial one for getting through the group stage. Austria took a single lead in the beginning and icreased it then lately in a fifth. Belgium managed only to pull one down, which wasn’t enough.
2013 XVIII. EChW, Prague (CZE): 7 - 13 Jul
Federation: CZECH REPUBLIC - CESKA SOFTBALLOVA ASOCIACE