The Dutch National Team took the European Softball Championship title back!

The Women’s Softball European Championship took place in Bollate, Italy, June 25 – July 1. The orange squad remained undefeated throughout the whole tournament. During the week the Dutch played twelve games and only one of those took the regular seven innings, all the remaining games ended prematurely on a run-ahead-rule. After the 2015 Championship, where the Dutch took silver medals, they proved this year again, that they were the strongest women's softball nation in Europe.

We got it back! This is the first step on our way to the Olympics,“ said Petra Arends, Dutch Softball Federation board member after her team seized the 10th title in the history of European softball championships (which tied the record of ten titles of Italy).

FINAL GAME (by Bob Fromer)

Shockingly, there have now been 20 European Women's Fastpitch Championships played, including the one that finished on Saturday evening 1 July in Bollate, Italy, and either Italy or the Netherlands have won every single one of them.  In fact, only five other countries have ever played in a final at this tournament: Belgium, the Czech Republic, Russia, Greece and Great Britain.

This latest final was won in a canter by the Netherlands, by a score of 7-1, and it evened up the all-time series at 10 wins for each country.

The Dutch virtually ended the contest in the bottom of the first inning when they knocked the Italian ace, Greta Cecchetti, out of the game and scored three runs.  Cecchetti had trouble finding the plate, walking two, giving up two singles and getting only one out from the six batters she faced before the Italians brought in Illaria Cacciamani, who pitched into the fifth inning, with Alice Nicolini finishing up the game.

The Dutch scored off all the rest of their runs off Cacciamani: one more in the second inning, two in the third and a final run in the fifth.

Ginger de Weert started for the Netherlands and didn't allow a run or a hit in 2.1 innings of work, though she did give up a walk and hit two batters.  With one out and no one on in the Italian third inning, veteran Dutch pitcher Rebecca Soumeru came in for de Weert, and finished up the game.

The only run the Italians scored came just after Soumeru entered, when she walked her first hitter, Marta Gasparoto, and then gave up a double to Erika Piancastelli.  But after that, Soumeru changed speeds effectively, as she has done throughout her career, and kept the Italians off balance.

So it was an entirely one-sided final, with the Dutch getting 11 hits to three for Italy.  Three of the Dutch hits came from shortstop and lead-off hitter Britt Vonk, who had two singles, a walk and a massive home run to right field in four at-bats.  Chantal Versluis had three singles and Virginie Anneveld contributed two walks.

It was a joyful time for Italy when they won the last European Women's Championship on Dutch turf in 2015, their first win since 2007.  But today the Dutch paid them back in kind.

-Helena Novotna-