Patch to meet Ramstein for title
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — After two years of coming up short in the semifinals, Patch rallied Friday with five runs in the bottom of the seventh to beat Vilseck 10-9 and advance to Saturday’s DODDS-Europe softball championship game.
Patch will face Ramstein in the Division I finale, hoping to end the champ’s three-year hold on the trophy. Ramstein beat cross-town rival Kaiserslautern 10-7 in the other D-1 semifinal game.
In Division III semifinal games, also played Friday, top-ranked Sigonella defeated Rota 10-8 while Incirlik edged Alconbury 9-8. Sigonella and Incirlik will meet for the title.
The D-II semifinalist will play at 9 a.m. Saturday to determine who advances to the championship game, the last of the three softball finals scheduled. The four vying for the D-II title are: AFNORTH and Bitburg, who will square off against each other, and Naples and Aviano.
Perhaps the most exciting game of the tournament so far was the semifinal game between Patch and Vilseck. The game was tight from the first inning on, with both teams scoring twice. Vilseck scored three runs in the second, only to see Patch post a three-spot of its own an inning later.
“We played Vilseck earlier in the year and we split with them,” Patch manager Brian Tingey said. “We knew it would be a tough game.”
Trailing 9-5 entering the bottom of the seventh inning, Patch strung together four straight hits and a walk. By then the game was tied, Patch had its clean-up hitter Bianca Lopez in scoring position and Shannon Wright at the plate. A mishandled grounder allowed Lopez to score and the Patch bench and faithful erupted in a loud and sustained cheer.
“We just had to pull together as a team,” Wright said afterwards.
Vilseck’s Taylor Hall led the Falcons with a 4-for-5 day and two runs scored. Derej McClinton also had a good day, going 3-for-4 and scoring a pair of runs.
Ramstein staked out an early lead in its game against Kaiserslautern, scoring six runs in the second inning and four in the third. Kelsey Freeman pitched a solid game for Ramstein until the seventh, when Kaiserslautern scored five times to close the gap.
Freeman helped her own cause with a two-run double in the second and Alexis Weathers followed her lead several batters later with a two-run double of her own. In the third, Amber Vannaman cleared the bases with a triple.
Kaiserslautern kept the game close thanks to Karah Helm’s three-hit effort. Helm, who scored and drove in a pair of runs each, fell a homer shy of hitting for the cycle.
“We are now in the championship,” third baseman Breana Plummer said after Incirlik, the fourth, and final, seed, got the final out against second-seeded Alconbury in their D-III semifinal. “It was a big game for us.”
Leading the way for Incirlik was centerfielder Danielle Gallagher, who collected two hits and scored three runs.
In Sigonella’s game against Rota, both teams scored most of their runs in the second inning. Rota struck first with six runs in the top half of the frame. Haylee Hadaway stroked a bases-clearing triple and later scored herself.
Sigonella did Rota one better, scoring seven times in the bottom of the inning. Sigonella sent a dozen batters to the box and Rota pitcher Natalia Rivera issued four straight walks to open the inning. After a strikeout, Courtney Albert laced a triple. She finished the day with two hits, two runs scored and three RBIs.