Ramstein looks ready for repeat in sweep
Ramstein freshman Breanna Martinez makes solid contact in the Royals' 15-0 victory over Lakenheath on Friday.
This article has been corrected
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- The defending European champions are already in postseason form.
Ramstein burnt up the base paths on a bitterly cold pseudo-spring afternoon Friday, hanging a combined 27 unanswered runs on visiting Lakenheath in season-opening 15-0 and 12-0 routs.
Royal pitchers Kelsey Freeman and Katherine Enyeart left Lakenheath hitters unable to produce any sustained offense in notching a shutout win apiece.
"They certainly have set the tone," Royals head coach Kathy Kleha said of her pair of pitching aces. "With the young kids, and the core that we have from last year, we're ready to repeat."
The All-Europe hurlers were integral pieces of last year's DODDS-Europe champions; they both say the teammates they took the field with Friday have the potential to be even better.
"I'm so excited for this season," said Freeman, the reigning Stars and Stripes softball Athlete of the Year. "It's amazing how good the girls are this year."
Freeman, now in her fourth year as a fixture of Royal softball, is concerned not just with winning another title but with leaving a legacy as the program moves on without her.
"I just try to be a leader and a mentor to the other girls, and be here for them," Freeman said. "I'd like for them to be able to carry on later and be able to look up to me as someone that played the game and enjoyed it."
Present and future Royals can also seek to emulate Freeman's more tangible contributions. In addition to her dominant pitching effort, Freeman delivered four RBI in Friday's opener, while Breanna Martinez scored four times and Mackenzie Brester-Knight notched two hits and drove in three runs.
Enyeart took her turn in the spotlight in the later game, extending her dominance to the plate with a mammoth home run and five total RBI.
The Royals know stiffer challenges than the developing Lancers await on their schedule, and particularly at the European championships just two months away.
That's fine with Enyeart.
"We're excited for that," the junior flamethrower said. "This is going to be a tough team to beat."
Lakenheath is left to extract positive signs from the humbling losses. Head coach Gregg Thomas was proud of his team's approach in the face of its overwhelming opening-day opponent; his program is in the midst of a rebuilding process that wasn't quite ready to demonstrate significant progress Friday.
"But that doesn't mean we have any less fight," Thomas said.
Brooke Strasburger was misidentified in a photo cutline in an earlier version of this article.