Team Italy’s Greta Cecchetti throws no-hitter against Russia in Women’s European Softball Championship Opener

Team Italy’s Greta Cecchetti throws no-hitter against Russia in Women’s European Softball Championship Opener
Defending champion Team Italy kicked off the Women’s European Softball Championship in Fruili Venezia Giulia with a convincing 9-0 shutout over Russia on June 27, 2021

Italy-Russia: there could not have been a better debut for Federico Pizzolini's girls. The pressure, although the opponent was not of the first magnitude and the most accredited, after practically two years without high-level play and after all the difficulties, was palpable, both in the hours of the eve, and on the field. In the end the Azzurre managed to close the game in five innings, completing a splendid performance by Greta Cecchetti, who was capable to pack 11 strike-outs and prevent any opponent hitter from reaching first: practically a perfect game.

Following the Women’s European Softball Championship Opening Ceremonies in Castions di Strada (Fruili Venezia Giulia), Team Italy dominated Russia in a 9-0 mercy-rule rout on Sunday night, June 27, 2021. Italian manager Federico Pizzolini called on starting pitcher Greta Cecchetti, who delivered a no-hitter with 11 strikeouts. 

Team Italy got on the board early in the bottom of the first inning with two runs. Andrea Howard scored on a sacrifice fly by Andrea Filler, and Emily Carosone crossed the plate on an RBI single from Giulia Longhi. The Italians returned in the bottom of the fourth inning and rallied for seven runs to induce the mercy rule.  

The relentless Team Italy offensive attack was led by Andrea Howard (2-for-3 with two runs scored and one RBI), Erika Piancastelli (1-for-1 with one home run, two walks and three RBI), and Andrea Filler (1-for-2 with one home run and two RBI).  

National Softball Hall of Famer and Team Italy special advisor Mike Candrea, who recently retired after a 36-year stint as head coach at the University of Arizona, accompanied his protégé Giulia Koutsoyapulos to Italy after being eliminated in the College World Series. He has since been working diligently with the Azzurre squad to help players reach their true potential prior to the start of the Tokyo Olympics.  

But Team Italy must take it one day at a time and defend the European championship throne before thinking about competing against the game’s elite in Tokyo. Not only would the Italians claim bragging rights to repeat as Euro champion, but more importantly Team Italy (or the winner of the 2021 European Championship) would automatically qualify for the World Games in Birmingham, Alabama next summer.  

With the easy 9-0 victory over Russia in the books, Team Italy travels to nearby Ronchi dei Legionari to face Poland under the lights at 8 pm (local time) on Monday, June 28, 2021. Team Italy is once again the main attraction with two games on Tuesday, June 29. The day game is against Bulgaria at 3 pm (local time) in Cervignano, while the nightcap is scheduled for 8 pm (local time) when Team Italy faces Hungary in Ronchi dei Legionari. Follow all the action on Forza #Italia! #PerEnrico 

by Roberto Angotti