On opening day of the six-day U16 Euro Women’s Softball Championship in Zagreb, Croatia, Team Italy beat France 10-2 and crushed Turkey 23-0 on July 29, 2019. In the 13-country international competition morning opener against France, the Azzurre squad was powered by the bat and arm of Elena Cavalieri. The Team Italy leadoff hitter was a perfect 3-for-3 with a two-run inside-the-park home run and three runs scored. In addition, closer Elena Cavalieri threw 1.1 innings of scoreless relief with one strikeout to support winning pitcher Sofia Bertani (2.2 innings, two earned runs, two hits, and five strikeouts). Azzurre offensive highlights included an RBI triple by Manola Beltrame, a two RBI double by Chiara Bolognini, and a two RBI single by Alessia Brandi.
Team Italy returned for an evening game against Turkey. The dynamic duo of Alessia Brandi and Linda Rampoldi pitched a combined no-hitter with seven strikeouts in the 23-0 shutout over the Turks. Every player in the Team Italy starting lineup got at least one hit. Sarah Bortolotti was just a triple shy of completing the cycle for the Azzurre squad, and Valeria Munaretto hit a two-run inside-the-park home run. The explosive Italian offense was on fire during the shortened three-inning mercy-rule slaughter of Turkey.
Team Italy (2-0) concludes Pool C play with a contest against Slovakia (1-1) on July 30 at 11:30 am local time. The Italians and France (1-1) will advance to the upper bracket against the top two teams from Pool A (Czech Republic, Croatia, and Hungary), Pool B (Russia, Germany, and Belgium), and Pool D (Netherlands, Poland, and Ukraine). Team Italy's first battle in the upper bracket will be against undefeated Russia on July 30 at 6 pm (local time). The U16 European Women’s Softball Championship final takes place on August 3 at 6 pm (local time) while the battle for the bronze precedes the final at 3:30 pm (local time).
For Team Italy U16 women's softball manager Giulio Brusa, coaches Maristella Perizzolo and Stefano Filippini as well as delegation manager Claudio Marinelli, losing is not an option. Defending Euro champion Kingdom of the Netherlands is likely to be the biggest challenge to overcome for the Azzurre. After a third-place finish in 2017, Team Italy looks to reclaim the European championship title which has not been brought home since 2015. Forza #Italia! #LetsMakeItHappen
by Roberto Angotti