No DODDS-Europe Division III softball team was dealt a hand as difficult as the one given to the Alconbury Dragons. Few teams could have played it as well as they did.

The small-school underdog won three of four games over Division I opponents this weekend, establishing itself as a Division II/III team to beat and heading into spring break with a .500 record despite an all-Division I schedule.

Alconbury lost its weekend opener Friday, a 22-17 decision to Wiesbaden. But the home team evened the score later that day with a gritty 12-8 decision over the Warriors.

Saturday, however, belonged to the Dragons. Now hosting familiar regional foe and new Division I call-up SHAPE, Alconbury edged the Spartans 19-15 in game one and followed up with a convincing 21-5 sweep-clinching rout in the afternoon.

While ace pitcher Becky Matthews kept things under control on the mound, the Alconbury offense displayed a consistent ability to plate runs. After scoring just seven total runs in two opening-weekend games against Lakenheath on March 21, including a first-game shutout loss to the Lancers, the Dragons cracked double digits in all four games this weekend.

Alconbury will be rewarded for its early-season challenges with a far more manageable schedule. The Dragons will host fellow like-sized squad Baumholder on April 18, then round out their schedule against Division II/III rivals AFNORTH, Bitburg, and Rota.

Lakenheath goes 4-0: The Lancers pulled off the perfect weekend that Alconbury narrowly missed, handing SHAPE losses of 21-6 and 22-15 on Friday and beating Wiesbaden 14-13 and 16-1 on Saturday.

Shannon Cox picked up three of four pitching wins for the Lancers, while Khloe Miller notched a late win over SHAPE on Friday to round out the sweep.

Meghan Bibb led a long list of Lancer offensive standouts with a string of multiple-hit games, including a pair of home runs in the one-run nail-biter over Wiesbaden early Saturday.

Ramstein 8-9, Kaiserslautern 4-7: Saturday at Ramstein, the host Royals fended off the Raiders for a hard-fought doubleheader sweep.

Sarah Wilhite went 3-for-4 with two runs scored to pace the opening victory, while Abby Walker scattered eight hits across seven innings for the pitching win.

Zania Sterling launched a two-run double in the sixth inning to swing a back-and-forth nightcap in Ramstein's favor. Brittany Crown picked up the win on the mound.

Kaiserslautern pitcher Tori Liggins was effective despite the pair of losses; the junior struck out eight Royals in each game.

Patch 7/5, Vilseck 6/6: Saturday at Stuttgart, Germany, the Panthers and Falcons split an impromptu pair.

Originally scheduled to meet up with new Division I rivals Naples and Vicenza in Italy this weekend, the teams made the best of the weather cancellations and played each other in southern Germany. Each team came away with a win.

Elizabeth Hansen hit a three-run home run in the sixth inning to give revamped defending champion Patch a season-opening win. Mackenzie Coleman struck out seven in a complete-game effort to notch the pitching win.

Elana Montanez led the Vilseck response in the late game, going 2-for-3 with two runs at the plate and striking out seven from the mound. The effort completed a 13-inning, 17-strikeout day for Montanez.

BaseballPatch 5/11, Vilseck 4/4: Saturday at Stuttgart, the Panther baseball team took a pair from an up-and-coming new contender.

Making the same scheduling adjustment as the above-mentioned softball teams, the Panthers and Falcons staged one of the more competitive doubleheaders of the young baseball season on Saturday.

The opening game amounted to a pitching duel between Patch ace Andrew Buxkemper and Vilseck counterpart Kurt Hall. Buxkemper got the better by a hair, allowing no earned run to Hall's one.

Garrett Becker delivered on the mound and at the plate in the more comfortable second game, adding a two-run home run to his winning pitching effort.

The two wins will be all the action either team fits in before spring break. Both will resume Division I play on the other side of the hiatus, with Vilseck hosting defending champion Ramstein and Patch visiting Kaiserslautern.

Ramstein 11/12, Kaiserslautern 1/1: Saturday at Ramstein, the defending Division I champion Royals cruised into spring break.

Combined with the previous weekend's 18-2 and 10-0 routs of Bitburg, Ramstein has emerged as DODDS-Europe's most dominant team to date. The Royals have starred on defense, where they've yielded just four runs in as many games, and on offense, where they've amassed a stunning 51 runs.

Zach Buhrer and Jon Oswald recorded the wins in Saturday's first and second game, respectively. Ben Ciero sprayed three hits and two RBI in the opener and Woody Woodruff drove in two teammates in the nightcap.

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