In the opening game for Team Italy against South Africa in the WBSC U19 Women's Softball World Cup at Bill Barber Park in Irvine, California on August 11, 2019, the Italians prevailed in a 10-0 mercy-rule shutout. Team Italy manager Enrico Obletter called on Italian American starting pitcher Alexia Lacatena, who limited South Africa to just two hits with five strikeouts and one walk in four innings of work.
Team Italy got on the board early in the bottom of the first inning. Azzurrine sparkplug Susanna Soldi led off with a double. Alessandra Rotondo followed with a sacrifice bunt to advance the speedy runner to third base. Then Giulia Koutsoyanopulos hit a sacrifice fly to allow Susanna Soldi to score and give Team Italy a 1-0 lead.
In the bottom of the second inning, the Team Italy offense came to life with a five-run frenzy. Noemi Giacometti led off with single and hustled to third base on a sacrifice bunt by Sara Cianfriglia. She later scored when South Africa committed an infield error which allowed Alessia Colonna to reach first base. Arianna Nicolini followed with an infield single. A double steal by Team Italy put runners in scoring position for Susanna Soldi, who reached first base on an infield single which manufactured another run. A two-run single by Alessandra Rotondo gave Team Italy a 5-0 lead. Then Alessandra Rotondo scored on an RBI double by Elisa Princic to make it a 6-0 game.
After back-to-back singles by Alessia Colonna and Alice Nicolini in the bottom of the third inning, Susan Soldi hit a two-run double and later scored on an RBI triple by Giulia Koutsoyanopulos. With a comfortable 9-0 lead going into the top of the fourth inning, starter Alexia Lacatena looked stronger than ever with an easy 1-2-3 inning. Team Italy nailed the coffin shut in the bottom of the fourth inning with an additional run to enforce the mercy rule. Pinch hitter Elena Slawitz led off with triple and crossed the plate on an RBI double by Noemi Giacometti.
With the 10-0 shutout over South Africa, Team Italy faces its biggest challenge of the WBSC U19 Women's Softball World Cup with a pair of games against strong softball powerhouse nations on August 12. The first battle begins at 10 am against Japan followed by a 3 pm clash with Australia. The Italians must win at least one of the two contests to advance to the Super Round, which starts on August 13 and culminates with the U19 Softball World Championship on August 17. Forza #Italia! #LetsMakeItHappen #U19SoftballWC
by Roberto Angotti