On day two of the U16 European Women’s Softball Championship in Zagreb, Croatia, Team Italy shut out Slovakia 13-0 in the morning contest but suffered a heartbreaking 3-2 loss to Russia in the nightcap on July 30, 2019. In the game against Slovakia, Team Italy pitcher Beatrice Nannetti threw a two-hitter with eight strikeouts and two walks. The relentless Italian offense produced six extra-base hits. Triples by Maya Milano, Alessandra Mavilla, and Alessia Brandi as well as doubles by Sarah Bortolotti, Anita Bartoli, and Virginia Mambelli kept the Azzurre players circling the bases and scoring in the four-inning mercy-rule victory over Slovakia.
Team Italy returned for an evening clash against Russia. Italian U16 softball manager Giulio Brusa sent out starter Valeria Munaretto, who surrendered three runs in the bottom of the first inning without recording an out. Enter the stopper Maya Milano, who not only got Team Italy out of a jam but limited Russia to just two hits with six strikeouts and no walks in five innings of relief. She was the unsung hero who kept the game close.
The Azzurre offense chipped away at the three-run deficit in the top of the second inning. Virgina Mambelli led off with a walk, stole second base, and reached third base on a throwing error. She later scored on an RBI single from Giulia Bancora. Team Italy added another run in the top of the third inning after Anita Bartoli tripled and scored on a sacrifice fly by Maya Milano.
The Italians missed out on an opportunity to tie the game up in the top of the fourth inning. After Giulia Bancora legged out an infield single, she stole second base to get into scoring position. Then Manola Beltrame walked. Unfortunately, Team Italy was unable to cash in, and Russia held on to the slim 3-2 lead. One final attempt to rally in the top of the fifth inning came up short. Despite an infield single by Anita Bartoli in the top of the fifth inning, the Azzurre offense failed to spring into action and left her stranded on the bases without scoring.
With the loss to undefeated Russia (3-0), Team Italy (3-1) now faces Croatia (1-2) on July 31 at 9 am (local time) and returns for an afternoon game against Ukraine (2-1) at 3:30 pm (local time). The U16 European Women’s Softball Championship continues through August 3, when the battle for the bronze takes place at 3:30 pm (local time) and the championship final follows at 6 pm (local time). Forza #Italia! #LetsMakeItHappen
by Roberto Angotti