WIth a 7-4 win over Great Britain and a 7-0 shutout over Ireland on July 19, 2018, the Team Italy Juniors inched closer to the U19 Women's Softball European Championship title in Staranzano, Italy. The Azzurre return on July 20 for a day game at 5:45 am (EDT) against Germany and a nightcap at 2:45 pm (EDT) against the Netherlands. A good showing in both contests will most certainly put Team Italy in the U19 Women's Softball European Championship title game on July 21 at 12 noon (EDT).
The road to the Euro Championship has not been the easiest. Great Britain got on the bases early in the bottom of the first inning when starting pitcher Susanna Soldi surrendered three singles. The Brits got a break when an infield error gave them an unearned run and a 1-0 lead. In the top of the third inning, leadoff hitter Laura Vigna tripled and later scored on an infield error to tie the game up 1-1. Alessandra Rotondo also crossed the plate on a perfectly-executed sacrifice bunt by Chiara Bassi to give Team Italy a 2-1 advantage. The slim lead was short-lived as Great Britain tied the game 2-2 in the bottom of the third inning and scored two more runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to put the British on top by a score of 4-2.
The Azzurre tied the game up after being gifted two unearned runs in the top of the fifth inning. After a leadoff walk to Alessandra Rotondo, Andrea Howard singled and advanced to second base on a throwing error which allowed Alessandra Rotondo to score. Andrea Howard stole third base and later scored on Susanna Soldi's RBI groundout to second. WIth the score tied 4-4 in the bottom of the fifth inning, Team Italy manager Enrico Obletter called on his secret weapon, pitcher Alexia Lacatena, to hold Great Britain at bay. She delivered and threw four scoreless innings to get the win as Team Italy scored three runs in the top of the eighth inning. RBI singles from Susanna Soldi, Alessia Colonna, and Laura Vigna got the job done for the Azzurre.
Italian skipper Enrico Obletter took no chances in his decision to have Alexia Lacatena return to the mound just hours later to start against Ireland. The 15-year-old pitching sensation from New Jersey came through in a big way for Team Italy with a three-hit shutout over the Irish and earned her second win of the day. The Azzurre offense was firing on all cylinders as all players in the starting lineup got hits. Highlights included a double from designated hitter Alessia Colonna and triples by Andrea Howard and Susanna Soldi. The 7-0 victory over Ireland gave Team Italy the confidence that U19 Women's Softball European Championship title is achievable, especially on Italian turf with the support of the hometown crowd in Staranzano. Forza #Italia! #LetsMakeItHappen
by Roberto Angotti