Resilient Team Italy escaped danger early and came back from a 1-0 deficit to beat Venezuela 3-1 in the WBSC Women's Softball World Championship at Zett.A. Ball Park in Ichihara City, Japan on August 7, 2018. With three consecutive wins over Botswana, Great Britain, and Venezuela, the ninth-ranked Azzurre squad (3-3) puts everything on the line in a do-or-die must win game against 12th-ranked China (4-2) on August 8 (August 7 at 9 pm EDT) at Akitsu Stadium in Narashino City. By defeating the Chinese, Team Italy will join Japan (6-0), Australia (5-1), and Canada (4-2) as the fourth of four top finishers in Group B to advance to the WBSC Women's Softball World Championship playoffs from August 9-12, 2018.
Team Italy starting pitcher Ilaria Cacciamani took the mound and the heat of a potential five-alarm fire offensive rally fueled by a leadoff base hit followed by three walks in the bottom of the first inning. Italian manager Enrico Obletter summoned help from reliever Greta Cecchetti in a hurry to limit the damage. Down 1-0 with bases loaded and one out, stopper Greta Cecchetti extinguished the flames with a quick strikeout and a flyout to end the inning. Knowing the importance of the game, Team Italy retaliated with two runs in the top of the second inning. After Priscilla Brandi singled, Team Italy skipper Enrico Obletter called on speedy pinch-runner Veronica Comar to replace her on first base. She advanced to third base on a single by Lara Cecchetti and scored on a perfectly-executed bunt single from Alessandra Rotondo. An RBI single by Laura Vigna brought Lara Cecchetti home to give Team Italy the 2-1 lead. The Azzurre women got an insurance run in the top of the third inning when Erika Piancastelli doubled and later scored on an RBI single from Giulia Longhi.
Team Italy center fielder Laura Vigna proved to be worth her weight in gold when throwing out a runner tagging up from third base at the plate to protect the slim 3-1 advantage in the top of the fourth inning. Azzurre captain Erika Piancastelli led the squad with three hits including two doubles in the contest and improved her batting average to .353 (6-for-17) during the international competition. Meanwhile pitcher Greta Cecchetti earned her second win of the tournament and ascended to third in strikeout leaders with 25 Ks and an impressive 1.23 ERA during her 21 innings of work. Forza #Italia! #LetsMakeItHappen
by Roberto Angotti