Two more wins take The Mix to 6-1 in Euro Cup

Thu 22 Aug 2019

Thursday 22 August – Two more wins today for The Mix at the European Women’s Cup in Dupnitsa, Bulgaria have taken their record to 6-1 and put them within touching distance of the gold medal game on Saturday.  But one more win may still be required to get there.

This morning’s game against the Israeli team Beit Shemes was a nervy affair in which both teams hit the ball hard and The Mix parlayed an early lead into an 8-6 victory.  This afternoon, against Princ Zagreb from Croatia, The Mix were clinical, banging out 13 hits and winning 10-0 on the mercy rule in four innings.

A report on the game against Beit Shemes has been on the BSF website since this morning and can be read below.

Looking ahead

The Mix have one game left to be played in the nine-team round-robin, against the Danish team Horsholm at 1.30 pm Bulgarian time (11.30 am in the UK) on Friday.  And with the Danes currently on a 4-2 record, tomorrow’s meeting may well decide which of the teams will go to the gold medal game on Saturday, while the loser might be playing for bronze.

But who knows, because although Athletico San Sebastian are unbeaten at the time of writing and so sit on top of the group, they still have two round-robin games left to play on Friday.

So The Mix will definitely finish in the top four and will definitely play for a medal on Saturday.  But which medal and against which opponent still remains to be seen.

Results so far from play on Thursday, and the current round-robin standings, can be seen below.

The Mix v Princ Zagreb

“This was a really solid batting performance,” Head Coach Robbie Robison said after the game, and it started in the top of the first inning and never really stopped.  Five of The Mix’s 13 hits were for extra bases:  Anna Prins had three hits including a double and a triple, Laura Thompson had a pair of doubles, Holly Newell had a double and Megan Beard had three singles. 

Meanwhile, Mary Murray, though still with a tender ankle from the injury sustained on Monday, pitched all four innings against Princ Zagreb after throwing seven innings against Beit Shemes this morning.  But this afternoon’s game was a much less stressful affair.

The Croatians had a couple of baserunners in the first and second innings, but their only real threat came in the bottom of the fourth when they were already 10-0 down.  Three straight singles at the start of that inning loaded the bases for Princ Zagreb with no one out, but a double play that included an out at home and then a ground ball back to the pitcher preserved the shutout and ended the game.

Offensive onslaught

Mix centre fielder Laura Thompson doubled to open the game in the top of the first inning, then remained on second while Gayle Khoenkhoen popped up an attempted bunt and Emmilee Blowers flew out to centre field.  But Anna Prins singled to left field to score Laura, and when Megan Beard followed with another single to left that was misplayed by the Croatian outfielder, Anna came round to score.

So The Mix led 2-0, and they put up two more runs in the top of the second inning.

With one out, Louisa Scott reached on a bunt single, stole second and went to third on a single to left field by Barbara Killer.  Laura Thompson’s second double of the game drove in Louisa and sent Barbara to third, and she scored on a sacrifice fly hit by Gayle Khoenkhoen.

In the top of the third inning The Mix stepped things up and scored three more times against Princ Zagreb starter Judith van den Berg-Frijters, who pitched all four innings for the Croatians.

This time Anna Prins led off the inning with a double to centre field, Megan Beard singled, moving Anna to third, and Sian Wigington drove in the run with a sacrifice fly.  Holly Newell then doubled to right centre field, driving in Megan, and Holly took third on a wild pitch and scored on Barbara Killer’s single.

That made the score 7-0, already in five-inning mercy rule territory, but The Mix were keen to end the game as quickly as possible and scored another three runs in the top of the fourth inning with the hope of ending it then and there.

With one out, Emmilee Blowers reached on an error and came home on Anna Prins’s triple to right field.  Megan Beard singled up the middle to score Anna, Sian Wigington singled, and another Croatian error on a ground ball by Louisa Scott allowed Megan to score.

It was a comprehensive win for The Mix, who are playing excellent softball with contributions up and down the line-up, and it sets them up nicely for the last two days of the tournament.

The Mix v Beit Shemes

There was another 9.00 am start and another win this morning for The Mix, but their 8-6 victory over the Israeli team Beit Shemes was a hard-fought game that could have gone either way.

Mary Murray, whose ankle injury continues to improve after extensive treatment from The Mix’s Managers, Dawn Robison and Michael Wigington, pitched all seven innings in this game, and most of them were pressure innings as the Israelis hit the ball hard and consistently and had baserunners in every frame.

Beit Shemes had 12 hits in the game to 11 for The Mix; Mary Murray walked two and the Israeli pitchers walked three; and The Mix committed two errors to three for Beit Shemes.  In other words, a very even contest.

But the foundation that allowed The Mix to prevail was their early success against the Beit Shemes starter, Alyssa Robison, who gave up seven runs over the four innings she pitched on eight hits and three walks and that allowed The Mix to build up a lead. 

Mathilde Neilson took over the pitching for the Israelis in the fifth inning and largely kept The Mix quiet, but the British team did manage a crucial insurance run in the top of the seventh inning that gave them enough breathing room when Beit Shemes mounted a last-ditch rally in the bottom of the frame.

Strong start

The Mix came out of the gates quickly with two first-inning runs, but it was a bit of a struggle to get them.

Barbara Killer drew a lead-off walk, Louisa Scott reached on an error and Emmilee Blowers walked to load the bases with no one out.  But Anna Prins struck out swinging and the Israelis got a force out at the plate on Megan Beard’s ground ball.  The inning was saved by Sian Wigington, whose infield single produced two runs when the Beit Shemes shortstop threw the ball away.

In the top of the second inning, The Mix stretched the lead to 3-0 on a home run by Mary Murray to left centre field.

Momentum change

But momentum then swung to the Israelis, and by the time the third inning came to an end, they had a 4-3 lead.

In the bottom of the second inning, two singles and an error gave Beit Shemes a run, and in the bottom of the third inning the Israelis mounted a two-out three-run rally.  The key blows were consecutive hits by Kaylyn Devaney, Shira Lloyd and Mathilde Neilson.

Quick response

But The Mix responded immediately, and their four-run rally in the top of the fourth inning decided the game.

Hannah Pitman started things with a single up the middle and was sacrificed to second.  Mary Murray then walked on a full count, and Barbara Killer blasted the first pitch she saw over the centre field fence for three big runs.  But The Mix added one more on consecutive two-out singles through the left side of the infield by Emmilee Blowers, Anna Prins and Megan Beard to produce a 7-4 lead.

Nervous finish

Mary Murray settled down after that and kept Beit Shemes off the scoreboard over their next three at-bats, while the second Israeli pitcher, Mathilde Neilson, shut down The Mix’s offense.

Mary got some help in the bottom of the fifth inning when Anna Prins, playing shortstop, made an ankle-high catch on a hard line drive hit by Kaylyn Devaney and turned it into an unassisted double.

So to the final inning, where The Mix were able to scratch out one more valuable run in the top of the frame.

The key was a great nine-pitch at-bat by Holly Newell with two out and no one on base that included a foul ball that just missed being a home run before she settled for a single up the middle.  Holly advanced to second on a catcher’s interference call with Hannah Pitman at bat and scored on a single up the middle by Gayle Khoenkhoen.

As things turned out, that was a valuable run, because Beit Shemes mounted a two-out rally of their own in the bottom of the seventh inning.

After the first two Israeli hitters had flied out to Louisa Scott in centre field, Judith Nosgorodsky and Kaylyn Devaney singled and Rhonda Lloyd’s line drive double to right centre field drove both of them home to make the score 8-6.

The Mix convened in the circle with Head Coach Robbie Robison, and the decision was made to walk the dangerous Mathilde Neilson intentionally.  It was a decision that paid off, as substitute Dena Denkberg struck out swinging on three pitches.

Scores and standings

Scores so far from games on Thursday in the nine-team round-robin are:

Skovde Saints 19, Princ Zagreb 0 (4 inns)
The Mix 8, Beit Shemes 6
Akademics Sofia 5, Gepardy Zory 2
Skovde Saints 10, Angel Dupnitsa 9 (8 inns)
Horsholm 6, Beit Shemes 0
The Mix 10, Princ Zagreb 0 (4 inns)
Athletico San Sebastian 11, Akademics Sofia 0 (4 inns)
Horsholm 8, Angels Dupnitsa 1 (5 inns)

Current round-robin standings are:

Athletico San Sebastian (6-0)
The Mix (6-1)
Skovde Saints (5-2)
Horsholm (5-2)
Angels Dupnitsa (2-5)
Akademics Sofia (2-5)
Princ Zagreb (2-5)
Beit Shemes (2-5)
Gepardy Zory (1-6)

Only four teams will go forward to playoff games on Saturday: the top two teams in the round-robin standings will play for the gold medal and the next two teams will play for the bronze medal.  The other five teams will be finished after Friday.  The Mix have already guaranteed themselves a place in the top four and the gold medal game beckons.

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