Italy beats New Zealand 5-4, then loses to Aussie All-Stars 6-3 in Asia Pacific Cup

Team Italy women's softball team manager Enrico Obletter could not have scripted a better Hollywood ending for the Azzurre against New Zealand at Blacktown International Sportspark in Sydney on February 3, 2018. With his squad trailing 4-3 in the bottom of the seventh inning, leadoff hitter Laura VIgna tripled in the gap between right and center field. Catcher Marta Gasparotto followed with a walk-off two-run home run to give Team Italy its first victory in the 2018 Asia Pacific Cup with a 5-4 come-from-behind win over the New Zealanders. Paul Petricca, author of the book Hitting with Torque, wrote about Team Italy's Marta Gasparotto and Erika Piancastelli in his 2015 article entitled "The Italian Dynamic Duo". Team Italy slugger Marta Gasparotto used some of the torque described by Petricca when rocketing the ball over the center field fence on Saturday in Australia. It was a see-saw battle from the first pitch as the lead went back and forth between both teams. After starting pitcher Ilaria Cacciamani gave up a run to New Zealand in the top of the first inning, Team Italy was quick on its feet to answer. Laura Vigna worked the count and got to first base on a walk. A perfectly executed sacrifice bunt by Marta Gasparotto moved Laura Vigna into scoring position. Giulia Longhi brought her home with an RBI-single to right field to give the Italians their first run of the ballgame. New Zealand regained the lead in the top of the second inning with a 2-1 advantage. Team Italy fought back in the bottom of the third inning when Laura Vigna reached first base on an infield error. Priscilla Brandi made the most out of the New Zealand shortstop blunder by drilling a ball over the left field fence for a two-run homer. Italy's 3-2 lead was short-lived as the Kiwis scored two more in the top of the fourth inning to make it a 4-3 game until the magical Marta moment when Gasparotto demonstrated her torque power to drive home the game-winning runs for the Azzurre. Yet the unsung heroes were relievers Veronica Comar and Alice Nicolini, both of whom kept Team Italy in the game by silencing New Zealand's offense for a combined 3.1 innings.
20180202 APC GASPAROTTO Marta in difesa ITA (GZ)The Team Italy women's softball squad played their second contest of the day against the Aussie All-Stars. In the top of the first inning, sparkplug Laura Vigna doubled and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Marta Gasparotto. A passed ball allowed Laura Vigna to score and give Team Italy a 1-0 lead. The Italians added another run in the top of the third inning when Laura Vigna scored on an RBI-single by Priscilla Brandi. Manager Enrico Obletter called on pitching ace Greta Cecchetti to start, and she dominated for five complete innings with Italy on top 2-1; however, the Aussie All-Stars exploded in the bottom of the sixth inning when they scored five runs. In the top of the seventh inning, Alessandra Rontondo came home on a RBI-double by Marta Gasparotto for another run, but the late rally fell short as the Aussie All-Stars won the game 6-3. Team Italy (1-5) returns for a rematch against New Zealand (0-6) on Sunday, February 4. The winner of the game will play the Aussie All-Stars (2-4) in final game of the Asia Pacific Cup Consolation Round. Barring an unexpected upset from Chinese Taipei (3-3), top-ranked Japan (6-0) will face the winner of the Australia (5-1) and China (4-2) game in the 2018 Asia Pacific Cup Championship. Forza #Italia! #2020Olympics #LetsMakeItHappen

by Roberto Angotti