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RAMSTEIN, Germany – The three-day European high school tournament will wrap up Saturday with Ramstein playing Patch for the Division 1 crown and Rota facing off against Alconbury in the Division III title game.

Division II semifinal play commences at 9 a.m. Saturday at Ramstein High School with Naples against AFNORTH and, on an adjoining field, Vicenza matched up against Hohenfels.

There were several notable games Friday, including a few one-run victories and the Heidelberg Lady Lions’ final contest as the school shuts its doors for good as part of the closure of the Heidelberg military community.

Due to inclement weather Thursday, pool-play games Friday were shortened from 90 minutes to 60 minutes in order to squeeze in contests that were rained out the day before. At the 60-minute mark, teams were instructed to finish the inning they were in and stop.

Ramstein 7, Vilseck 6: Vilseck rallied in the top of half of the last inning to pull even with Ramstein at 6-6. The game carried added significance because the winning team would get a better seed for the semifinals.

In the bottom of the inning, Breanna Martinez stepped into the box with Sabrina Harrison on second base and two outs. On the hill was Kayla Clamage, Vilseck’s ace pitcher who pitched masterfully Thursday.

Clamage quickly took control of the situation, recording two strikes.

“It was nerve-wrecking,” Martinez said later of falling behind on the count.

In textbook fashion, the Vilseck junior started to work the corners, throwing a pitch on the outside corner of the plate. Martinez adjusted to the pitch and hit a rope pass Clamage and into center, scoring Harrison from second.

Afterwards, Clamage credited Martinez for her prowess at the plate.

“I just took it wherever I got it,” Martinez said of the pitch location. “I got around and took it up field.”

Patch 6, Vilseck 3: Patch spotted Vilseck two runs in the first inning of the semifinal, but from there the Panthers glided to a comfortable win behind clutch pitching by Abigail Weaver, good fielding and timely hitting.

Vilseck actually tallied as many hits as Patch but couldn’t get the timely one. Among the leading hitters for Patch was Colleen Fenton, who stroked a long double in the second inning. That scored Patch’s first run and Fenton later scored on a throwing error by Vilseck, tying the game.

Patch grabbed the lead for good in the third inning and added insurance runs in the fourth and seventh.

Ramstein 12, Kaiserslautern 0: Ramstein scored in every inning it batted and the game was halted in the bottom half of the fifth inning of the second D-I semifinal due to the margin of the score.

Ramstein pitcher Kelsey Freeman kept Kaiserslautern hitless until the fifth, when she gave up three hits. However, aggressive base running by Kaiserslautern backfired and a couple of runners were tossed out attempting to take extra bases.

Freeman struck out six batters , sending the Royals to the championship game Saturday as they try to repeat and, Freeman said, avenge the loss they suffered two years ago to Patch that cost them the title. Besides Freeman, the only remaining players from the 2011 squad that lost to Patch are Katherine Enyeart and Alexis Weathers.

“We take it game by game,” Freeman said, “but we wanted to go to the championship game. We all just want it.”

Wiesbaden 18, Heidelberg 5: During the school year, when it came time to field a team for the upcoming season, it was touch-and-go as to whether the Lady Lions of Heidelberg could even field a team, let alone a competitive one.

There were only two players left from the 2012 squad, the rest having either graduated or moved on to other military communities. Brianna Bronell and Courtney Ardy, the two seasoned veterans, argued in favor of playing this year and went about lobbying school officials and students, particularly would-be teammates they would meet in class and in the ever-thinning hallways.

When Heidelberg came to the tournament, seeded an uncharacteristically last, the roster included Bronell, Ardy and nine “rookies.”

In the tourney, Heidelberg played three games and lost each by wide margins: 21-0 to Patch, 18-1 to Kaiserslautern; and 18-5 to Wiesbaden.

“Are we doing better this game?” senior Katie Hansen, one of the recruits who patrolled centerfield, asked her coach, Leslie Hogue.

Hogue and Ardy’s parents nodded in the affirmative.

When Heidelberg came to bat for the last time against Wiesbaden, all 14 of their Patch counterparts lined the right-field fence and cheered in support.

“It’s their last year,” said Brittany Hyde, a Patch senior. “We just wanted to show our respect.”

After the game, Bronell, Heidelberg’s catcher, was hugged and lifted off the ground by Wiesbaden’s Rachel Beville, a former Heidelberg teammate who transferred last year.

“Playing them was like playing my family,” Beville said.

Bronell and Ardy said they enjoyed the season, tough as it was. There was no drama at all and both found fulfillment in tutoring their new and inexperienced teammates on the fine points of softball. Bronell intends to try out for the Dubuque University softball team.

“We went out with a bang,” she said.

Dougherty.kevin@stripes.com


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