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Down a key player, Naples still too much for Aviano

Naples' Davina Gutierrez hits a line drive Friday, against Aviano during the first game of a doubleheader at Aviano Air Base, Italy. Naples won both games 19-10, 18-12.

AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy – For those following the ongoing softball series between Naples and Aviano, Friday’s doubleheader results might not come as a surprise.

The Wildcats had defeated the Saints all 11 times the teams played in the last three years entering the doubleheader.

Confronted with the challenge of missing their star player Victoria Krause, Naples still rallied and beat Aviano 19-10 and 18-12.

The whole dynamic of reworking the positions was a challenge today,” Naples head coach Jesse Costa said in regards to playing without its All-Europe star for the first time, due to a leg injury that could possibly end her high school career.

Aundrea Hall was up to the challenge and took the lead as Naples’ catcher and played an equally impressive game while at bat. Hall went 3 for 3 during the first game, scoring three runs, one off an inside-the-park home run that gave her team an 11-run advantage.

“I think Aundrea Hall, who is our backup catcher, is really starting to hold her own,” Costa said. “She’ll be a force to be reckoned with.”

Following hall’s home run, three more runs crossed the plate before Aviano would respond with a few cracks of the bat and stomps on home.

It was 15-5 when Sabrina Huerto took advantage of a bases-loaded situation to drive in three runs with a triple. She scored on Jazmine Bell’s single. But Naples had too big of an advantage to overcome.

Erin Dromerhauser’s home run sealed it for Naples.

Naples centerfielder Jessica Polwhowich also had a home run, this one in the second inning of the second game.

Aviano’s Shamera Lane matched her and homered again in the fourth. The Wildcats’ Shanice Alexander responded with another home run for Naples.

“They hit well, they can place the ball,” Aviano head coach Mark Baldwin said of Naples. “I thought we could have beaten them – if we would have played more heads up ball – we would have beaten them.”

Although the four home runs in the doubleheader gave the Wildcats an advantage, it wasn’t what won the game for them. They reached base on 14 walks and moved around on numerous stolen bases and wild pitches and passed balls.

“We can’t win a game without scoring runs and we try to be aggressive on the base paths, because those will manufacture runs,” Costa said.

Baldwin said he hoped his team was watching – and learning.

“Base running – we need to be more aggressive – ready to advance,” he said.

Duhr.jason@stripes.com

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