WIESBADEN, Germany --- Momentum is everything. That’s perhaps never more applicable than heading into the final weekend of softball play before the European championships.
It’s something Wiesbaden head coach Jim Campbell couldn’t stress enough to his girls before the start of a Saturday doubleheader against visiting Ansbach.
“This could springboard into our play at Europeans,” Campbell told his team before the first pitch, stressing a game plan of simply getting on base and letting good things happen as a result.
The Warriors got the momentum boost after taking a 10-6 victory in the opening game, but the Ansbach Cougars clawed their way back in the second game with a 15-14 victory over the host squad.
In the morning matchup, Wiesbaden jumped out to an early lead, thanks to a nine-run opening inning, where everything the Warriors bats touched seemed to land out of grasp of the Ansbach fielders.
The Cougars tried to stage a comeback, but proved difficult with Wiesbaden’s Ashlyn Lamb on the mound. Lamb, who finished with six strikeouts, allowed the Cougars to get within striking distance, but she was able to maintain composure and prevent a big Ansbach inning.
Lamb also helped herself with a 3-for-4 performance at the plate along with two runs scored in the game.
The Cougars' bats didn’t have to wait too long to come alive after the morning loss, as they jumped out to an 11-3 lead after three innings in the second game.
Ansbach’s Irish Manalang looked to be on cruise control. In contrast, Wiesbaden’s Megan Mattner struggled with consistency in the first few innings.
Wiesbaden wasn’t ready to hand the game to the Cougars, though, as Campbell urged his team to show some plate discipline and force Manalang to throw strikes. The strategy paid off, as the Warriors were able to load up the bases for Kirsten Velsvaag - 5-for-8 on the day with four runs and four RBIs - who belted a shot that drove in three Wiesbaden base runners.
From there, Mattner was a different pitcher, sporting a confident grin and control of the plate, and the Warriors added eight consecutive runs to regain the lead from Ansbach heading into the final half inning.
With a three-run lead, the Warriors could feel the come from behind victory within their grasp.
The cushion wasn’t enough, though, as the visitors staged a rally of their own. Down to their final out, Ansbach left fielder Ashley Rico provided the hit that drove in the game’s winning run.
“Words can’t express how much this means,” Rico said, who admitted that she didn’t even know that her hit provided a win for Ansbach at first because she was so focused on her game. “It motivates us for Europeans.”
The Cougars, who finished in fourth place in last year’s Division-II championships, hope to build from Saturday’s game and climb higher on this upcoming tourny’s rung.
“It absolutely shows we can push through the tournament,” said Ansbach senior shortstop Lauren Duplessie, who went 3-for-4 at the plate in the second game, adding a pair of runs and three RBIs.
Wiesbaden freshman Jessica Mingo said her team learned a hard lesson of not giving up until the game’s over, but stressed how far her team has come over the course of the season.
“We need to be selective in batting and know where to put our bats on the ball,” said Mingo, who seemed to follow her own advice with a 4-for-7 with five RBIs.
The European softball championships are slated for May 23-25 at venues in the Kaiserslautern area.