After defeating the Dutch 7-4 in the Olympic Qualifier Super Round at Utrecht’s Sportpark de Paperclip in the Netherlands on July 26, 2019, the Team Italy women's softball squad (5-0) goes head-to-head with Great Britain (5-0) for the the right to be the lone Europe/Africa representative in the 2020 Olympics.
The #RoadtoTokyo has not been an easy one for Team Italy as the weakhearted could hardly stand to watch starting pitcher Greta Cecchetti get tagged for four runs by the Netherlands in the top of the first inning. Cutting into the deficit, Team Italy scored one run after back-to-back triples by Amanda Fama and Laura Vigna in the bottom of the first inning to make it a 4-1 game.
Having full confidence in his ace Greta Cecchetti, Team Italy manager Enrico Obletter sent "Iron Greta" out to pitch in the top of the second inning. Although she surrendered a leadoff single, Greta Cecchetti dug down deep and struck out the next batter. When another single was given up to put runners on the corners, the Italian skipper had seen enough and called on reliever Ilaria Cacciamani, who quickly quashed the Dutch scoring threat with two strikeouts. From that moment forward, the momentum shifted to Team Italy.
In the bottom of the second inning, a sense of urgency permeated in the Azzurre dugout. After Beatrice Ricchi walked, Laura Vigna reached first base on an infield error. Then Team Italy newcomer Emily Carosone drilled a three-run home run over the center field fence to tie the game 4-4. Slugger Erika Piancastelli followed with a solo blast that nearly cleared the fence of the adjacent ballpark to put Team Italy on top 5-4. In the bottom of the third inning, unsung hero Giulia Longhi once again came through in the clutch with a two-run bomb to give the Italians a commanding 7-4 advantage.
That was all winning pitcher Ilaria Cacciamani needed to put the Netherlands away. She threw a total of 5.2 innings and limited the Dutch to just two hits with seven strikeouts and one walk. As a result, starter Greta Cecchetti will be well rested before she gets the opportunity to put Team Italy on the #RoadtoTokyo with a win over Great Britain on July 27 at 3 pm (local time).
Having beaten Czech Republic 4-2 earlier in the day and upset the Netherlands 5-2 on July 27, undefeated Great Britain will be put to test by European champion Team Italy in the Olympic Qualifier Super Round final. The Netherlands (2-3) and Czech Republic (2-3) battle for third place in the eight-country Europe/Africa Olympic Qualifier on July 27 at 12 pm (local time). Forza #Italia! #LetsMakeItHappen #Tokyo2020