GB Women start Super 6 with win over Greece

Tue 18 Sep 2018


By Bob Fromer

Hoofddorp, Netherlands: 18 September – Under sunny skies but in near gale-force winds, the GB Women’s Fastpitch Team got off to a winning start this afternoon in the ESF’s first-ever Super 6 tournament, battering two Greek pitchers for 13 hits in a 7-3 victory. 

“It was a great way to start the tournament,” GB Head Coach Rachael Watkeys said afterwards.  “Everyone played and everyone contributed to a really good offensive performance.”

GB had baserunners and hits in every inning, as well as four stolen bases, but they scored their seven runs in two bursts, with three in the bottom of the second inning off Greek starter Efthimia Maranakis and four in the bottom of the fifth against reliever Loren Stravrou.  Each time, there was a big extra-base hit at the heart of the rally.

In the second inning, it was a two-out bases-loaded double to centre field by Lauren Evans, a sinking line drive that Greek centre fielder Alexis Bazos dived for but couldn’t come up with.  In the fifth inning, a booming triple to centre field by GB starting pitcher Amie Hutchison soared over the heads of the Greek outfielders and drove in two runs, and two more eventually followed.

Amie also pitched a very solid five innings to record the win, holding the Greeks hitless for the first four innings before giving up two hits and an unearned run in the top of the fifth.  Amie pitched mainly to contact, striking out two, but had three assists of her own and the GB infield played very well behind her, including a slick 4-6-3 double play turned in the top of the second inning by Nerissa Myers at second and Sydney Brown at shortstop and several fine stops by Chloe Wigington on sharply-hit balls to third base.

“Amie fielded her position really well,” Rachael Watkeys said, and Sydney had a great game at shortstop and with the bat.  We made really good contact up and down the line-up.”

With GB leading 7-1 after five innings, it was the perfect time to bring 17-year-old pitcher Hannah Edwards into the game for her first appearance with the Senior Women’s Team, and Hannah was understandably nervous, giving up singles to the first three Greek batters she faced in the top of the sixth.  But Hannah kept her poise and got out of the inning with just two runs scoring, helped by a fine catch in centre field by Laura Thompson.

In the top of the seventh, Hannah pitched around an error to hold the Greeks scoreless, and struck out Alexis Bazos with an excellent change-up.

There was a scare for GB in the bottom of the third inning when second base player Nerissa Myers, who finished second in batting at the recent Women’s World Championship in Japan and went 2-for-2 today, injured her shoulder diving into third base after being caught in a run-down.  But the injury appears to be minor and Nerissa should be able to play tomorrow.  With only 12 players on their roster, GB can ill-afford injuries! 

Nerissa was replaced at second base by Amy Wells, who also went 2-for-2 and also played well in the field.

Looking ahead

Things will get tougher for GB as the tournament goes on, with a game against Italy tomorrow (Wednesday) at 1.00 pm Dutch time (noon in the UK) and then games against both the Czech Republic and the Netherlands on Thursday before a final round-robin game against Russia on Friday.

On Saturday, there will be three playoff games based on the round-robin standings, with gold medal, bronze medal and fifth-place games.

Most of the teams in the Super 6 have brought some younger players to the tournament, but the Italians, Czechs and Dutch have brought the core of their current senior teams to the competition, including their top pitchers, and a slightly undermanned GB Team will not find the next two days as easy as today. 

But as Rachael Watkeys has said, this tournament is less about results and more about how the players who are here match up against the European teams that will be vying for an Olympic place when the Europe/Africa Olympic Qualifier is played in a year’s time.

All games from the Super 6 are being webstreamed live, with excellent production by Playo.tv, and are also available on demand on www.baseballsoftball.tv.

The full schedule and all the results can be viewed on the ESF website: http://competition.europeansoftball.org/2018/hoofddorp/schedule.php.

Other results

Earlier today, in the opening game of the Softball Super 6, the wind definitely had an effect on the outcome between Italy and the Czech Republic as the Czechs had a rare win over the Italians by a score of 3-2.

The Czechs took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning on two pop fly balls that the wind blew out of the reach of Italian infielders, and that run was ultimately the margin in the game.  But that shouldn’t detract from a great pitching performance by Czech ace Veronika Peckova, who out-duelled Italy’s veteran #1 starter Greta Cecchetti, who was driven out of the game when the Czechs scored two further runs in the top of the sixth inning on three hits.  The Czechs had 10 hits, nine off Cecchetti, to just four hits for Italy, and thoroughly deserved the win.

The Netherlands and Russia finished off the opening-day programme this evening, and the Dutch, who are current European champions, scored an easy 13-1 mercy rule win in five innings.

Photos by Paul Stodart

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