With a pair of shutouts over Czech Republic (5-0) and France (17-0) in the U19 Women's Euro Championship in Staranzano on July 18, 2018, Team Italy is riding high before going to battle against Great Britain on July 19 at 8 am (EDT). The young and talented Azzurre squad played like champions against previously undefeated Czech Republic in a daytime game before dominating France under the lights in a three-inning mercy rule rout.
Team Italy Juniors manager Enrico Obletter called on starter Alexia Lacatena to get the job done against the Czechs, and she did not disappoint with seven scoreless innings of work. The 15-year-old New Jersey native struck out eight batters and walked one in a marvelous display of pitching excellence. Team Italy got on the board when shortstop Chiara Bassi led off the bottom of the third inning with a home run blast over the right field fence to give the Azzure women the 1-0 lead. The Italians came back for more in the bottom of the sixth inning. A one-out rally ignited with a single from Sara Cianfriglia. An RBI double by Alessia Colonna gave Team Italy a 2-0 advantage. Then Sofia Fabbian was hit by a pitch. Chiara Bassi powered a two-RBI double and later scored on an RBI double by sparkplug leadoff hitter Laura Vigna. Team Italy took the comfortable 5-0 lead into the seventh inning, and starting pitcher Alexia Lacatena had enough in the tank to complete the game for the win.
Although France recently won the World Cup in soccer, the Azzurre made sure the French came down to earth from the euphoria with a 17-0 shutout in the three-inning reality check nightcap. Team Italy pitcher Giorgia Telo threw a one-hitter and struck out four batters. The Italian women wasted no time in putting the game out of reach by scoring 10 runs in the top of the first inning. University of New Mexico softball standout Andrea Howard went a perfect 2-for-2 with a double, two walks and three RBI. Alessandra Rotondo and Susanna Soldi also had two hits. Laura Vigna scored three times as did Alessandra Rotondo. It was a total team effort with everybody in the lineup contributing to the offensive fury.
Both victories solidified Team Italy as a true contender for the 2018 U19 Women's Euro Championship title in Staranzano. Team Italy manager Enrico Obletter along with coaches Federico Pizzolini and Marco Villani have prepared the Azzurre squad for nothing less than winning it all for the home crowd on Italian soil. Forza #Italia! #LetsMakeItHappen
by Roberto Angotti