GB Women make quick work of South Africa

Wed 24 Jul 2019

By Bob Fromer

Utrecht, Netherlands: 24 July – The GB Women had a short, quick outing in their second game at the Europe/Africa Olympic Qualifier this afternoon, disposing of South Africa with ruthless efficiency in a 15-0 three-inning walk-off win.

GB played an almost perfect game on a very hot day against opponents who didn’t commit a single error, but who gave GB four walks and a plethora of wild pitches to help the scoring along.  But GB bats were on fire, with the team racking up 16 hits in three innings, and the game finished in just under an hour.

Devastating start

In a 10-run bottom of the first inning, GB opened the game with bunt singles by Sydney Brown and Aubrey Peterson and a triple into the right field corner by Nerissa Myers.  

Then, after Alicja Wolny hit a sacrifice fly, the next eight batters – Lauren Evans, Chloe Wigington, Emmilee Blowers, Olivia Lee, Amie Hutchison, Sydney Brown, Aubrey Peterson and Nerissa Myers, sprayed consecutive hits to every part of the ballpark.

Somewhere in the middle of that sequence, South Africa replaced starting pitcher Chesterney Fortune with Marianke van der Merwe, but this didn’t slow down the GB onslaught.

GB scored three more runs in the second inning, two of them driven in on a single by Sydney Brown, who later scored on a wild pitch, and they ensured the early finish with two final runs in the bottom of the third.

Emmilee Blowers and Katie Burge singled, Sydney Brown walked to load the bases and Alana Snow dropped a single into left field to drive in the runs that brought the game to an end.

The other side

On the other side of the ball, Beth Fleming started for GB and pitched two scoreless innings, giving up just a walk in the first inning and a single in the second while striking out two.

Georgina Corrick came in to pitch the third inning so she could throw in a live game before tomorrow night’s crucial meeting with the Netherlands, and she set the South Africans down in order with two strikeouts.

Now it gets serious

The win over South Africa, following yesterday’s win over Spain, ensures that the GB Women, as expected, will go through to the Super Round that begins on Friday, where the top four teams, almost certain to be GB, Italy, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic, will stage the final battle to determine which country goes to Tokyo.

Before then, however, GB and the Netherlands will play each other in a crucial final first-round Pool A game at 7.00 pm Dutch time (6.00 pm in the UK) on Thursday evening, and the result of that game will be carried through to the Super Round by both teams.

Whichever team loses will go into the Super Round squarely behind the eight-ball, needing to win their two Super Round games but also needing other results to go their way.

That’s why, although tomorrow’s game will not be absolutely decisive, it would still be no exaggeration to suggest that it might be the most important game in GB Softball history.

The game will be live-streamed here.

The equivalent meaningful game in Pool B was played this afternoon, between Italy and the Czech Republic, both of whom will make the Super Round.

Italy won 2-0, and it was an old story for the Czechs' top pitcher, Veronika Peckova, who pitched very well, kept the powerful Italian offense largely quiet, and still lost the game because the Czechs couldn't generate any offense and their defense let them down at crucial moments.

Czech batters managed just two hits against the Italians' Greta Cecchetti, and both Italian runs owed much to Czech defensive mistakes.

Italy took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning when Lisa Birocci walked, was sacrificed to second, and scored on a double to left field by Giulia Longhi that might have been catchable had Czech left fielder Lucie Petraskova got a better read on the ball.

The Italian insurance run in the bottom of the sixth came after Erika Piancastelli reached on an infield single and went to second on a wild pitch.  Veronika Peckova then struck out Andrea Howard, but the ball got past the catcher and while the Czechs were retrieving it and throwing to first to complete the strikeout, Piancastelli came all the way around from second to score.

So the Italians will take a precious win forward into the Super Round and the Czechs will carry a loss forward, and the Czechs' slim chance of winning the tournament is already going to depend on other results, even if they can beat both the Netherlands and GB -- a tough proposition -- in the Super Round.

Scores and standings

Scores on Wednesday were:

France 11, Botswana 2 (5 inns)
GB 15, South Africa 0 (3 inns)
Italy 2, Czech Republic 0
Netherlands 7, Spain 0 (5 inns)

Pool standings after Wednesday are:

GB (2-0)
Netherlands (2-0)
South Africa (0-2)
Spain (0-2)

Italy (2-0)
Czech Republic (1-1)
France (1-1)
Botswana (0-2)

The top two teams from each pool after the initial round-robin is completed on Thursday will go through to the Super Round.

Photos by Paul Stodart and Jason Lee

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