Softball - Day 2
Two days of play set up championship clashes
By GREGORY BROOME | STARS AND STRIPES Published: May 24, 2019
The final four is set for the decisive day of the 2019 DODEA-Europe Division I softball championship tournament after a Friday full of preliminary action in the Kaiserslautern Military Community.
The Stuttgart Panthers will face the Ramstein Royals and the Vicenza Cougars will battle the Wiesbaden Warriors in the semifinals Saturday at Landstuhl. The winners will advance to the European championship game later Saturday.
The final day of the season holds one more set of preliminary games for the six-team Division II/III field, meanwhile, with the two surviving teams advancing straight to the small-school final Saturday.
Stuttgart 11, Vilseck 7: The Panthers held the Falcons scoreless over the game’s final four innings and scored four runs in the top of the sixth to secure the key pool-play victory.
“We were hitting a lot better in this game than we have the whole tournament,” said Stuttgart’s Rebekah Johnson, who totaled two hits and an RBI.
Johnson also threw a solid game on the mound to earn the win for the Panthers. The freshman pitching ace is keeping her approach simple in her first prep postseason, endeavoring “just to pitch strikes” and let the very capable defense behind her make plays.
And in between games, Johnson is scoping out the competition she’ll see staring out at her from the batter’s box.
“Just to see if they’re good hitters,” Johnson said. “Just see how they hit.”
Lauren Scherra had four hits and two RBI to lead the Stuttgart offense. The Panthers clawed back from a two-run deficit through two innings, scoring six unanswered runs over the game’s final four frames.
Wiesbaden knocked off Naples 4-1 on Thursday to earn the pool’s second semifinal berth.
Vicenza 23, SHAPE 11: The Cougars plated multiple runs in all five innings to outscore the Spartans and earn their third tournament win in as many games.
Chenoa Gragg and Carolina Lopez led the Vicenza onslaught with four RBI apiece, while Aliuna Schorn added three hits and three RBI.
The Cougars earned wins over both 2018 finalists on Thursday’s opening day, besting runner-up Lakenheath 10-6 in the morning and knocking off defending champion Kaiserslautern 6-3 in the afternoon.
Vicenza scored five runs in the eighth inning to knock off Ramstein 8-3 in its preliminary finale, earning the pool’s top seed. The Royals advanced as the pool’s second seed.
Rota 12, Spangdahlem 11: The Admirals bounced back from a frustrating loss a day earlier to claim a dramatic morning victory.
Sophia Restivo slapped a two-run single in the fifth inning to deliver the hard-won victory, a redemptive experience for Rota after it dropped a 6-4 decision to reigning champion Sigonella on Thursday afternoon.
Sydney Carroll hit two triples and scored three runs in the game while playing smooth defense at shortstop. The newly arrived junior brought years of softball experience into her debut season with the program and has thrived in the elevated atmosphere of the tournament.
“There’s a lot more energy. Everyone’s a lot more pumped up and excited to be here,” Carroll said. “It transfers into the game, really.”
Rota couldn’t produce the needed runs in its preliminary meeting with the defending champions, but it’s been lighting up the scoreboard ever since in hopes of a rematch.
“We’re really getting our bats working,” Carroll said.
Senior Oriana Mattney wielded one such powerful bat against Spangdahlem, driving in five runs before touching home for the winning run herself.
Sigonella 15, Hohenfels 1: The reigning champions clinched their spot in the final with a pair of wins Thursday, including a rout of the Tigers and a late 8-4 win over Aviano.
The Jaguars scored five first-inning runs to put the Tigers away early. Averi Chandler totaled three runs and an RBI for Sigonella, while Gwena Dye had two hits, two runs and an RBI.
Pool play concludes with three games early Saturday morning ahead of the afternoon championship game.