Wiesbaden and Ramstein to clash in softball
Stars and Stripes May 19, 2023
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany – Much has changed in the two months since Wiesbaden and Kaiserslautern met on the opening weekend of the season.
The Warriors themselves have become a better unit, and they showed that by upsetting the Raiders 8-3 in a Division I DODEA European softball tournament semifinal Friday on Ramstein Air Base, Germany.
It was far different from the two’s doubleheader meeting on March 18, when Kaiserslautern (19-2) swept the Warriors (12-4).
“A lot has changed since (the first meeting),” Wiesbaden coach Jennifer Yalden said. “So, we knew it was going to be a good matchup, and it was a great game.”
Wiesbaden led from start to finish, jumping out to a four-run lead in the top of the first inning. A pair of walks to lead-off batter Robin Villegas-Creadick and No. 2 batter Delaney Hodges were followed by senior catcher Maria Pidgeon’s double to open the scoring. A triple by Caroline Williams capped off the hot start.
Wiesbaden added a pair of runs in the third inning, aided by a Lyndsey Urick double. Then the Warriors stretched out the lead with singular runs in the fourth (thanks to a Quinn Stout triple) and seventh (off a Villegas-Creadick double).
Not that they needed to score again after the first inning. Pitcher Urick was dealing from the start and gave Raider batters fits, fanning 11 batters – including striking out the side in the first inning.
The only inning in which Urick faced any trouble was the third. Kaiserslautern shortstop Xin Ai Robinson recorded a double, and then with two out, Aries and Ariyanna Garrett produced a double and single back-to-back to drive in a pair of runs.
The Raiders chipped in a consolation run in the bottom of the seventh inning but couldn’t threaten outside of that.
When Urick wasn’t striking out batters, the Wiesbaden defense backed her up. The Warriors committed just two errors, which made their pitcher happy.
“On the mound, I just kept thinking, we’re not going to lose,” Urick said. “Especially after winning two championships, I’m not losing.
“My arm hurts a little, but that’s OK. It’s worth it.”
The Raiders, meanwhile, entered Friday’s single-elimination dropping to the second seed thanks to having allowed one more run that Ramstein in their two games Thursday, setting a crash course with Wiesbaden on Friday.
Although it failed to advance to the championship game, Kaiserslautern coach Zac Robinson said the team has plenty of which to be proud for this season.
“We’ve done a lot this season that I don’t think a Kaiserslautern softball team has done in a while,” Robinson said. “We do wish we were playing in the championship game, but we’ll play for the third-place game, go out and give it our best.”
Ramstein 9, Vilseck 0: Royal coach Kent Enyeart will be the first to admit that defensive errors have plagued the team at times this season.
That hasn’t been the case during the Royals’ tournament run. Ramstein has given up just two runs in three games, highlighted by the team’s win over Vilseck in a Division I DODEA-Europe semifinal.
The Royals (14-3) committed no errors and recorded seven putouts throughout.
“We’ve struggled on defense at times, but right now, they believe in each other,” Enyeart said. “Our pitcher comes out and throws strikes, and our defense is strong and has her back.”
The defensive effort paired well with pitcher Maddie Mihalic’s performance in the circle. She struck out the side in the second inning for three of her five strikeouts, and just four Vilseck batters reached base safely. The Falcons (12-7) made it past four at-bats in an inning just one time.
“Everyone’s really putting their all into this, and I’m really thankful for that because you can’t have one person carrying the team,” Mihalic said. “Everyone needs to be doing their job on the team and that’s a championship team.”
On offense, the Royals took advantage of Vilseck miscues, scoring three runs in the second inning, two in the third and four in the fourth to pull away from the defending Division I champion.
Mihalic said it was the type of performance that is necessary to defeat a team of the Falcons’ caliber.
“They’re pretty hard to beat,” she said. “We were all pretty nervous coming into this, but we stuck together and we got it done.”
The Royals face off with Wiesbaden in the Division I final at Kaiserslautern High School on Saturday. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.