After losing to the Czechs 3-2 in the Super 6 Softball Tournament opener on September 18, 2018, Team Italy got back at the Czech Republic with a convincing 10-0 shutout over the European Championship host in Ostrava on July 4, 2019. The Italians had to wait nearly a year to settle the argument as to which team was superior due to the fact that the Super 6 Championship final game between Team Italy and the Czech Republic was cancelled because of rain on September 22, 2019. Unfortunately, Super 6 organizers used the results from the only contest played between the two Euro powerhouses on the tournament's opening day as the basis for awarding top honors to the Czech Republic and second place to Team Italy. The Azzurre squad left the Super 6 in Hoofddorp, the Netherlands empty handed without the opportunity to take home the gold. Instead, the Italians got revenge on enemy turf with an emotionally-charged 10-0 victory over the Czechs in the 2019 European Softball Championship.
Team Italy manager Enrico Obletter could take no chances and handed the ball to his pitching ace Greta Cecchetti. Having thrown a perfect game with 15 strikeouts against France the day prior, "Iron Greta" was just as effective limiting Czech Republic to just two hits and striking out eight hitters with no walks. The Team Italy offense came alive in the top of the fourth inning when spark plug Laura Vigna tripled and slugger Erika Piancastelli slammed a two-run home run over the left field fence. The Azzurre added another run after Marta Gasparotto tripled and scored on a sacrifice by Andrea Howard.
Leading 3-0 going into the top of the fifth inning, Beatrice Ricchi led off with a double and was replaced on the bases by pinch runner Micaela Abbatine. She was driven in when Amanda Fama blasted a two-run homer. Then Erika Piancastelli hit her second home run of the game to give the Italians a 6-0 advantage.
In the top of the sixth inning, Team Italy put the game out of reach with another four runs. After Andrea Howard hit the Azzurre squad's 35th home run of the Euro Championship, Giulia Longhi walked. The speedy Alessandra Rotondo entered the game as a pinch runner for Giulia Longhi. Then Elisa Cecchetti singled and reached seond base on an infield error while Alessandra Rotondo scored. After feared Azzurre leadoff hitter Amanda Fama was intentionally walked, Laura Vigna hit a two-run double to make it a 10-0 game.
Coupled with the pair of shutouts against France (7-0) and Greece (11-0) on July 3, Team Italy has won three games in a row since suffering its only loss in the Euros to the Netherlands by a score of 6 to 2 on July 2. Having already defeated Spain 7-0 two days ago, Team Italy now faces the Spaniards a second time tonight at 8:45 pm (local time). The clash between the only undefeated teams, the Netherlands and Great Britain, also takes place tonight at 8:45 pm (local time). Team Italy gets it chance to bring down Great Britain on July 5 at 6:30 pm (local time). Immediately following the conclusion of the game, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic play at 8:45 pm (local time)
Based on the results of these contests, the two top teams meet in the European Championship final on July 6 at 6 pm (local time). The battle for the bronze between the third and fourth place finishers takes place prior to the Euro final at 3:30 pm (local time). Regardless of the end result, the top six teams in the European Championship (Italy, Great Britain, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, France, and Spain) have earned the right to compete against Botswana and South Africa in the Europe/Africa Olympic Qualifier for the one spot to Tokyo 2020. The Olympic Qualification tournament takes place from July 23-27, 2019 in Utrecht, the Netherlands. Forza #Italia! #LetsMakeItHappen
by Roberto Angotti