Naples retains crown with rout of Vicenza
Stars and Stripes May 20, 2023
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany – One play can sometimes swing the game a team’s way in softball. Not making a half dozen such plays almost always does so.
That was the case Saturday when a series of costly errors in a second inning where nothing seemingly could go right for the Vicenza Cougars eventually led to a 20-4 mercy-rule victory for Naples in the DODEA-Europe Division II/III softball championships.
The Cougars, who won only one game during the regular season, made an impressive run to the title game with three victories and took a 4-0 lead against the Wildcats in the top of the first.
Naples, which finished the season perfect against non-Division I competition, responded with three runs in the second on Jeweliana Martinez’s RBI single and a ball hit by Kapriana Martinez that was misplayed.
After Kapriana Martinez retired the Cougars in the top of the second, disaster struck in the bottom of the inning for Vicenza.
“When our bats come alive, they come alive,” Naples coach Amy Driscoll said.
The Wildcats sent a series of balls to all corners of the field. Three went to the outfield and should have been caught but weren’t. A series of others hit to the infield were misplayed or didn’t result in outs. Before Vicenza could get three outs, 12 runs had been added to the Wildcats’ total.
So when Kennedy Rascoe forced in one run with a walk in the third and tournament Most Valuable Player Rebecca Lee hit another ball to the outfield and followed her three teammates all around the bases, the game was officially over.
Vicenza coach Elizabeth Loftis said her team, coming off an emotional 13-12 semifinal victory in extra innings over Aviano earlier in the day, just didn’t seem to be able to bounce back after the first few mistakes.
“I think they were tired,” she said. “We left it all on the field that first game.”
Driscoll gave a lot of credit to freshman Kapriana Martinez, who had pitched sparingly this season. The Wildcats’ two top pitchers, Jeweliana Martinez and Lee, were worn out from two days of pool play and Saturday morning’s 8-3 semifinal win over Sigonella.
“This was a big win for her,” she said. “She started to get comfortable on the mound.”
Both Martinez sisters are expected to return next season, giving the Wildcats at least a decent chance at a third straight title.