Royals rally past Warriors for title
Stars and Stripes May 20, 2023
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany – Natalie Briceland had no problem remembering the last time she faced Wiesbaden in a pivotal game on the softball field.
In fact, the Ramstein senior co-captain had a problem letting it go. She didn’t catch a ball when the sun got into her eyes and the Warriors advanced to the 2022 DODEA-Europe Division I softball championship game.
When she dove Saturday for a hard-hit ball by Wiesbaden’s Lyndsey Urick in the top of the seventh inning and couldn’t come up with it, Briceland could have gone back into the same funk.
Her teammates didn’t let her, though.
“We’ve talked from Day 1 about that ‘I’ve got your back’ mentality,” Royals coach Kent Enyeart said following his team’s 3-2 title-clinching victory.
So when Briceland came to bat in the bottom of the inning after Urick’s triple had tied the game at 2-2, she was focused on the present.
“I couldn’t let that mistake define me for the rest of the game,” she said.
She singled with one out, then sprinted to second on a ground ball. She got there so quickly it forced an errant throw that went into right field. Briceland then raced all the way home, beating the throw by enough time that she was celebrating before it got there.
Ramstein’s last rally ended a pitching duel between Urick and Ramstein’s Madison Mihalic, who each struck out nine batters and got out of several jams.
Ramstein struck for one run in the bottom of the first on Keilani Gonzalez’s run-scoring single down the third-base line. But Wiesbaden tied it up in the second on a wild pitch. Lily Rethage put the Royals ahead again in the fourth by doubling, moving to third on a passed ball and scoring on an error on the next play.
It was the second heart-breaking defeat for Wiesbaden in the title game after Vilseck rallied to win last year’s championship game.
“It hurts, but not as bad as last year,” Wiesbaden coach Jenny Yalden said.
“Our momentum went down in the middle of the game and we just had to get it up again,” she said of her team’s brief seventh-inning rally capped by Urick’s triple that Briceland just missed catching. “We fought until the end.”
The title is Ramstein’s first on the softball field since 2017.