With a lone 9-7 loss to the Netherlands (4-0) in the 2018 U19 Women's Softball European Championship in Staranzano, host Team Italy (3-1) has nearly been perfect by outscoring Spain, Israel, and Ukraine 57 to 2. The Azzurre Juniors now have the daunting task of facing undefeated Czech Republic (3-0) on July 18 at 5:45 am (EDT) before returning for another game at 12:30 pm (EDT) to play France (2-1). Things don't get easier the following day on July 19 at 8 am (EDT) as Great Britain (3-0) awaits. Team Italy manager Enrico Obletter knew early on that the competition would be fierce in the U19 Women's Softball European Championship. The Italian skipper said, "The Netherlands, Great Britain, Czech Republic, and Russia are only a few of the powerhouse teams there wanting to win. We are in the Euro Championship in Staranzano very confident knowing that we are going to be tough to beat."
Team Italy pitcher Alexia Lacatena (1-0) started both the Euro opener against Spain and the nightcap against the Netherlands on July 16, 2018. The Italian American workhorse limited the Spaniards to just two runs and struck out eight in the 9-2 mercy rule five inning game. Alexia Lacatena then came back to pitch another 6.1 innings against the Netherlands and exited the game with Team Italy leading 7-2. Relievers Chiara Biasi and Giorgia Telo could not stop the Dutch as the Netherlands rallied for seven runs in the top of the seventh inning to eventually win the game 9-2.
Team Italy returned with a vengeance on July 17, 2018 with back-to-back shutouts over Israel (32-0) and Ukraine (16-0). Giorgia Telo and Chiara Marazzi combined to throw a two-hitter against Israel while Susanna Soldi threw a no-hitter against Ukraine. Team Italy manager Enrico Obletter said, "Pitching and defense is always the key to winning championships, and it is no different here in Staranzano."
The Team Italy offense has been outstanding. Power is the operative word as Marta Chiodaoli (5-for-5, 4 RBI), Elisa Princic (5-for-10, 8 RBI), Laura Vigna (5-for-12, 3 RBI), and Sara Cianfriglia (5-for-13, 7 RBI) have all homered. Italian American Andrea Howard (6-for-10, 5 RBI) leads the Azzurre squad in runs (8), triples (3), and total bases (12). Extra-base hits from Alessandra Rotondo (5-for-9, 8 RBI), Susanna Soldi (6-for-11, 3 RBI), and Alessia Colonia (3-for-9, 7 RBI) have fueled the Team Italy offensive fire. Best of luck to Team Italy manager Enrico Obletter along with coaches Federico Pizzolini and Marco Villani in leading the Azzurre to the U19 Women's Softball European Championship title. Forza #Italia! #LetsMakeItHappen
by Roberto Angotti