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If the seedings for the European high school softball tournaments hold up when the games begin at Ramstein High School on Thursday, the powers that be will be exchanging places with the powers that were.

Three-time Division I champion Lakenheath, which went 11-1 during the regular season, figures to challenge the three-year reign of four-time champ Ramstein, based on the Lancers’ 12-4, 9-2 sweep of the Lady Royals on Saturday.

Lakenheath, which last won the European title in 2002, has the best pitching in the division in Brynn Lipor, and an offense anchored by the bats of Lipor, Krysten Glaun and Jessica Serd.

Lakenheath and regular-season runner-up Ramstein, which between them have won all seven previous European Division I crowns, will be joined in the tournament by Heidelberg, Wiesbaden, Kaiserslautern and Würzburg.

A return to the throne room also could be in the cards in Division II, as Bitburg, which last won European title in 2003, is expected to dominate the three-team field.

Pitcher Ashley Kazimer, an All-Europe selection last season, solidifies the young Barons.

“We had six new starters this season,” said Bitburg coach Dan Vasquez, “including three freshmen. But they jelled quickly.”

So quickly, in fact, that a loss to Baumholder of Division III on April 1 was the only blot on the Barons’ record. With just Patch’s Lady Panthers, whom the Lady Barons swept on April 22, and winless Hanau left to deal with after injuries to two Mannheim players forced the Lady Bison to drop out, Bitburg is relaxed and confident, Vasquez said.

“We’re focusing on what we need to do,” he said, “but they’re just out there playing ball and having fun. They don’t put any pressure on themselves.”

Any pressure will have to come from Patch’s pitching duo of Kasy’e Lalau and Lauren Sanchez. But the Lady Panthers, who won the last Division II title in 2004 — there was no Division II crown in 2005’s Big Schools- Small Schools format — apparently miss the offense Elisha Nieves took with her when she transferred to Wiesbaden. Patch managed only one run in its two losses at Bitburg.

In Division III, 2002 champion Alconbury is top-seeded again. The Dragons, top-seeded but runner-ups the last two seasons, will be taking on second-seeded Lajes, No. 3 Baumholder, No. 4 Rota, No. 5 London Central and No. 6 Incirlik.

For Lajes, getting some DODDS competition will be a treat in itself after a spring of scrimmages against base teams.

“They play slow-pitch,”Lajes sponsor Angela Miller said of the base teams. “So their pitcher pitches to them and our pitcher pitches to us.”

Baumholder can’t be counted out. The Lady Bucs are 2-1 this season against Alconbury and have beaten Bitburg. Rota is a four-time winner of this event while Incirlik is an unknown quantity.

Play begins at noon Thursday, with eight games on the schedule. The tournaments continue at 9 a.m. Friday. Saturday’s championship schedule has the Division II game at 12:30 p.m. and the Division I and Small Schools following on side-by-side fields at 2:15 p.m.

European softball tournaments

(Thursday-Saturday at Ramstein High School and Ramstein Northside)

Teams in seeding order

Division I—Lakenheath, Ramstein, Heidelberg, Wiesbaden, Kaiserslautern, Würzburg.

Division II—Bitburg, Patch, Hanau.

Small schools—Alconbury, Lajes, Baumholder, Rota, London Central, Incirlik.

Saturday’s championship games (at Ramstein High School)

Division II—12:30 p.m.

Division I and Small Schools—2:15 p.m.

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