The Netherlands seize another fastpitch title
Dutch beat the Czechs in Under-16 final
The Netherlands won the European Under-16 Championship trophy on Saturday afternoon 15 July in Ostrava, Czech Republic, to go with the Senior Women’s trophy they won a couple of weeks ago in Bollate, Italy. This time the Dutch beat the Czech Republic Cadettes 4-2 in a tense and gripping final.
Going into the final, the Dutch and Czechs had played each other twice in this tournament, with each team recording a 2-0 win. So the final was clearly going to be close, and the title was up for grabs.
Earlier in the day, the Czechs had reached the final with a 2-0 win over Italy, who finished in third place.
This was a high-level game contested by two very good young teams, and it was scoreless through the first two innings. If anything, the advantage seemed to be with the Czech Republic, who put runners on base in each of those innings against Dutch pitcher Margot Van Eijl, while the Dutch went up and down in order against Czech starter Anna Zoulova. But it was the Dutch who opened the scoring with three runs in the bottom of the third inning, and from then on, they continued to apply the pressure.
Marjin Crowell singled to left field to start the bottom of the third for the Netherlands, and with one out, Tess Remmers reached on an infield hit. Jacky Huijben hit a fly ball to center field for the second out, but Sophie Verdaasdonk lined a single to left center field to drive in one run and Bobbi Schuerkogel drove a line drive triple to the fence in right center field to bring in two more. That was the end – at least for now – of Czech pitcher, Anna Zoulova, and Klara Pospechova came in to strike out Esmee Toet and end the inning.
Czech response The Czechs responded immediately in the top of the fourth inning against the second Dutch pitcher of the game, Lisanne Spoor, and cut the Dutch lead to 3-2. Anezka Bartonova bounced a singled up the middle and Magdalena Kavanova’s sacrifice bunt was too good for the Dutch to get an out. The runners then moved to second and third on a sacrifice bunt by Alexandra Slana, and Bartonova scored on a wild pitch. Since bunting was proving so successful, the Czechs now tried another – a suicide squeeze bunt put down by Andrea Markvartova, and Magdalena Kavanova slid in under the catcher’s tag.
The Dutch scored the final run of the game in the bottom of the fourth inning to stretch their lead to 4-2, but the large crowd watching the final will never know how they failed to score more. The inning started with a walk, an error and a sharp single to right field by Marjin Crouwel that drove in the run. But the rest was pure escapology by Czech pitcher Klara Pospechova, who struck out Noa Fehling, walked Tess Remmers to load the bases, and then got each of the next two hitters out after going to 3-0 counts on both of them.
The Czechs went up and down in order in the top of the fifth inning, and then the Dutch pressure continued. They loaded the bases again with two out in the bottom of the fifth against Klara Pospechova, but the Czechs brought back starter Anna Zoulova to strike out Noa Fehling and get the Czechs out of the inning with the score unchanged.
Magdalena Kavanova singled with two out in the top of the sixth inning against the Netherlands’ third pitcher, Lisa Meyering. But the Dutch promptly brought in a fourth pitcher, Jill Cloo, and she struck out pinch-hitter Anna Duskova to end the game and send the Dutch bench players charging onto the field to soak their teammates in water (no champagne at this age level).
The final was contested by the two best teams in the tournament, and showed the depth of Dutch and Czech softball, with a host of accomplished players on both teams. The other countries in Europe – and even the Italians, who won this tournament in 2015 with no Dutch team present – will have their work cut out to match them.
Here is how all 12 teams finished in the 2017 U-16 Women's Softball European Championship:
1 – Netherlands
2 – Czech Republic
3 – Italy
4 – Germany
5 – Great Britain
6 – Russia
7 – Ukraine
8 – France
9 – Belgium
10 – Slovakia
11 – Serbia
12 – Poland
/photo by Jan Benes/