Europe softball - Day 1
Blowouts, dramatic finishes highlight opening day
By MARTIN EGNASH | STARS AND STRIPES Published: May 25, 2017
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany – The first day of the Division I portion of the DODEA-Europe Softball Championships featured several blowouts. But a few games came down to a single at bat.
That included the matchup between the Stuttgart Panthers and the Lakenheath Lancers. It was an incredibly tight game, which saw the teams tied 3-3 entering the final inning, when the Lancers scored three runs in the top half to forge ahead. That left the Panthers to fight tooth-and-nail to tie it again.
“Every inning was a battle,” Panthers coach Rachel Makle said. “It was stressful. It was exciting. All the girls were playing fantastic.”
Up until that final inning, Panthers’ pitcher Kira Wright had beat herself up for every hit she gave up to Lakenheath. Wright said she started to cry because she believed she let her team down.
But after the Panthers rallied to tie, she stepped up to bat and hit the ball out of the park. It landed in the middle of the adjoining field, disrupting the Ramstein-Vicenza game and winning her game in epic fashion.
“I feel so great,” Wright said. “It was so close, but I did it!”
In other Division I action, top-seeded Ramstein won both its games easily, downing Stuttgart 16-0 and then Vicenza 21-5 in Pool A. The Royals all but clinched a spot in Saturday’s semifinals. They'd only be kept out by getting blown out by Lakenheath and losing out on run differential in a potential three-way tie.
Pool B was much more competitive, with second-seed Vilseck emerging with two wins – 13-1 over SHAPE and 12-8 over Wiesbaden – and three other teams all earning a single victory.
“I think my girls started out strong today,” said Kaiserslautern coach Jesse Costa, whose team beat SHAPE 17-0 in the first game of the day. “I’m feeling pretty good about the rest of the championship.”
In Division II/III play, Rota, Sigonella and Hohenfels each won both of their games. The Admirals defeated AFNORTH 12-8 and Bitburg 12-9. The Tigers topped Aviano 13-7 and AFNORTH 16-15. And the Jaguars downed Bitburg 20-0 and Aviano 14-12.
“It’s still anybody’s game,” tournament director Kathlene Clement said. “The players are awesome and they’re going to keep being competitive tomorrow.”
Round robin play continues through Saturday morning in the small-school tournament, with the top two teams meeting in the finals later that day. The larger schools will use Friday’s play to determine the three other teams to join Ramstein in Saturday’s semifinals.