Azzurre ace Greta Cecchetti prevailed over her European nemesis Czech Republic pitcher Veronika Peckova in Team Italy’s 2-0 shutout over the Czechs on day two of the WBSC Europe/Africa Olympic Qualifier at Utrecht’s Sportpark de Paperclip in the Netherlands on July 24, 2019. “Iron Greta” Cecchetti limited Czech Republic to just two hits and struck out 11 batters.
A walk to Team Italy designated player Lisa Birocci in the bottom of the second inning led to the demise of Czech Republic hurler Veronika Peckova. A sacrifice bunt by Beatrice Ricci put Lisa Birocci in scoring position for nine-hole hitter Giulia Longhi, who hit an RBI double over the left fielder’s head to give the Italians a 1-0 advantage. Team Italy added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth inning when Erika Piancastelli hit an infield single and later scored on two wild pitches.
Team Italy catcher Marta Gasparotto eliminated the Czech’s only opportunity of scoring in the top of the second inning when she threw out a baserunner attempting to steal second base. Giulia Longhi made the defensive play of the game in the top of the seventh inning when she made a diving catch near the third base line and prevented what could have been an extra-base hit.
With shutouts over Botswana (0-2) and Czech Republic (1-1), Team Italy improves to 2-0 in the WBSC Europe/Africa Olympic Qualifier standings. The Italians conclude Group B action with a battle against France (1-1) on July 25 at 10 am (local time). Netherlands (2-0), Great Britain (2-0), Spain (0-2), and South Africa (0-2) are in Group A. The top two finishers of each group will advance to the Super Round carrying the result of the game played between each other. The top team in the tournament final standings will gain a berth for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Forza #Italia! #LetsMakeItHappen
by Roberto Angotti