U-19 Women’s Softball European Championship takes place in Italy in three ballparks; Ronchi, Staranzano, and Cervignano. A record number of 17 teams competes in Italy in tropical temperatures for the title of the European Champion and for the top three qualifying spots for the Wolrd Championship in 2019.
The teams started their round-robin in four pools. This first phase of the tournament only took two days and the top eight teams were determined from there.
The top eight teams consist of the four undefeated squads: the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Great Britain, and Germany; and another four teams with one loss: Italy, Belgium, Ireland, and France. These teams are now divided into two new groups (E and F) when games of the second phase are completed, the top six will create group X, from which the top two teams will advance to the final and the 3rd and the 4th will meet in the bronze medal game.
Group E: Belgium, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands
Group F: France, the Czech Republic, Great Britain, Italy
The remaining nine teams have their newly set up pools (G and H) as well. Their standings taken from these pools will later determine which place will they fight in their final games for.
Group G: Poland, Bulgaria, Denmark, Israel, Spain
Group H: Croatia, Russia, Serbia, Ukraine
Batter with the best batting average after the first phase is a player from Poland Karolina Pich. In her 10 at-bats, she hit successfully nine times. Sterre Den Duijn from the Netherlands recorded the most RBIs – 9. Milica Mrso from Serbia hit two homeruns.
Many of the games ended with a mercy rule, however, there were also some nerve-wreckers.
The opening game Italy against the Netherlands didn’t look too dramatic when team Italy was in the lead 7:2 in the 6th inning, however, the Dutch fought back. In the 7th inning, every single batter in the orange uniform completed her task. A series of singles and BBs tied the game to 7:7. After a triple by Drijvers and another single by Huijben, the score changed to 9:7 for the Dutch. The Italians didn’t manage to get any more runs in, in the bottom of the 7th, therefore they entered the tournament with a loss.
Ireland for sure was the underdog of the Russia vs Ireland game, and the total of 13 hits of both teams doesn’t correspond with the final score 3:1. For Ireland who debuted in fastpitch competitions in 2015, this was a historical success it was the biggest surprise of the tournament so far. Russia, traditionally one of the strongest teams, got eliminated from the top eight.
Another historical moment was close to happening. Serbia took an early 2:0 lead and kept pushing. Belgium had a strong 4th inning and managed to tie the game in the 6th. Going into the 7th, the score was 5:5. Only Belgium scored again in this game and advanced to the top eight, while Serbia lost their chances.
/cover photo by Andrea Andrian/