With a 15-3 rout over Germany and a 4-3 win over the Netherlands on July 20, 2018 in Staranzano, Team Italy now battles for the U19 Women's European Championship title against Ireland on July 21 at 12 noon (EDT). By being one of the top two Euro squads, the young and talented Azzurre women automatically qualify to play in the U19 World Cup in Irvine, California from August 11-18, 2019.
Team Italy manager Enrico Obletter chose to start Alexia Lacatena against the Germans. The Italian American pitcher earned her fifth consecutive win of the international tournament by throwing four innings before handing the ball off to reliever Susanna Soldi to finish the mercy rule contest in the fifth inning. Not only did Susanna Soldi pitch well and play a solid first base prior to taking the mound, but she also catapulted the Team Italy offense with two triples and three RBI. Laura Vigna and Alessandro Rotondo provided the one-two punch at the top of the lineup with a combined five hits including two doubles. Outfielder Sofia Fabbian enjoyed a good game at the plate with two hits, an RBI and one run scored. Andrea Howard, Chiara Bassi, Elisa Princic, and Sara Cianfriglia each scored twice to put the game out of reach with the final score being 15-3.
Team Italy returned in the evening to seek revenge against the Netherlands. The Dutch came from behind to beat the Azzurre 9-7 just four days earlier in the Euro competition; however, on this night under the lights the Italians prevailed with a 4-3 victory. Chiara Biasi pitched 5.2 innings and limited the Netherlands to two earned runs with four strikeouts for her first win of the tourney. Closer Susanna Soldi escaped a bases loaded jam in the top of the sixth inning with an inning-ending strikeout to preserve Team Italy's slim one run lead. She pitched the seventh and final inning to get the save.
Team Italy got on the board early when Laura Vigna and Susanna Soldi singled and later scored in the bottom of the first inning. The relentless offense went back to work for two more runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. After a single up the middle by Andrea Howard, Chiara Bassi walked. An infield groundout by Alessia Colonna put the runners in scoring position for Elisa Princic, who delivered a two-RBI double to give Team Italy a comfortable 4-0 advantage. That was all the offense the Azzurre needed as the squad held on to win 4-3.
With the pair of victories, Team Italy (9-1) plays for the U19 Women's European Championship title against Ireland. The teams clashed two days ago when Alexia Lacatena pitched a 7-0 shutout. Expect Team Italy manager Enrico Obletter to call on the 15-year-old pitching phenomenon for a repeat performance to capture the U19 Euro title on Italian soil in Staranzano. Forza #Italia! #LetsMakeItHappen
by Roberto Angotti