13.07.2013 | Derek OBrien

Montanari magic gives Italians confidence facing Dutch

The Netherlands and Italy will meet for the second time in this tournament in Saturday´s final. On Friday afternoon, they met for the first time with the Dutch taking it 7-3. But it seemed what everyone was talking about after the game was the performance of one Italian player with the glove and the bat. Pictured is Andrea Montanari rounding the bases after hitting a three-run home run, only moments after she robbed the Dutch of doing the same in centre field.

 
 
 

Heading into the game, the Netherlands had won six straight games, outscoring their opponents 72-0. They hadn´t been scored upon and had never been forced to play more than five innings. Italy, the team most consider the second best women´s softball team in Europe, were also a win away, but in this particular game it seemed they were destined to suffer the same fate as the others.

The score was 7-0 in the top of the fifth inning. With the necessary seven-run difference already achieved, the Dutch were in good position to end another game early and looking for some insurance runs. They had two runners on base and two out with Nathalie Gosewehr at bat. The Dutch lead-off hitter sent a towering drive to deep left-centre field which would either go over the fence or hit the top--either way, more runs would score. But as the ball began to sail over the top, the glove of Italian centre fielder Andrea Montanari reached over and pulled it back into the ballpark.

In what seemed like an optical illusion to some onlookers, she had just robbed the Dutch of three runs to end the inning. The whole crowd, including a large contingent of Dutch fans, stood up and cheered the play.

"That´s as nice a play as you´re going to see," said Dutch coach Craig Montvidas afterward. "It´s certainly the best I´ve seen at this tournament."

But though many thought it was going to be a home run for sure, one person knew it wouldn´t.

"I knew I had it," Montanari said afterward without a hint of sarcasm. "I knew it because I could see where the ball was going and the fence is short, so I told myself I´m going to catch it, no matter what I have to do."

She wasn´t done yet, though. Even with her defensive heroics, the Dutch were still in position for another mercy-rule shutout win. Fast forward to the bottom half of the fifth. Again, there were two on and two out. This time it was Montanari stepping up to the plate, needing to at least get on base to extend the game. She did better than that.

"Yes, it was on my mind when I was up to bat, and we didn´t want to lose that way," she said of the possibility of the mercy rule. "We have a lot of pride on this team and so we wanted to play the full seven innings."

In almost a replay of what had transpired minutes earlier, Montanari drove the 1-0 pitch deep to left centre field and over the fence. This time, though, there was no glove to reach up and block its path. Perhaps the only one on the park who could have caught that hit was the one who hit it.

They did play the full seven innings, the first team to do that against the Netherlands and also the first team to score against them.

"Oh, I didn´t know that. Well, I´m happy we did it then." But does that feat take away some of the disappointment of losing?

"No, I wanted to win, but it was nice to get some excitement into the game and cheer up my teammates," she reasoned. "We played well afterward, so that´s some good I can take from it."

The loss meant the Italians had to play a semifinal game against the Czech Republic, a team they lost to earlier in the tournament. This time they won with a mercy victory of their own, 10-1 in five innings. Montanari was 3-for-3 with two doubles and 4 RBI.

The Italians now face the Dutch again. Does her performance in both of these games give her the feeling they have a chance to beat them this time?

"We´ll see, it´s a game. Of course they´re a good team, but we´re a good team too. We´ve fast, we can hit and we´ve got the pitching. We´ll use our gloves and our bats and you never know how it´s gonna end. Sometimes it comes down to luck."

 
Ulejvky
Hity pomohly
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14.07.2013 - Na závěrečném slavnostním ceremoniálu byly předány individuální ceny. Nejlepší nadhazovačkou letošního mistrovství Evropy je Sarah Benchaliová (Francie), nejlepší pálkařkou Tereza Jakešová (Česko) a nejužitečnější hráčkou Dinet Oostingová (Nizozemsko).
Finále živě!
13.07.2013 - Finálový zápas tradičních soupeřů Itálie a Nizozemska, který začíná v 16:30 můžete sledovat na serveru Onlajny.cz, nebo na live streamu Krilie
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SK Joudrs Praha SaBaT Praha, o.s. ZŠ a MŠ Dolákova
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Česká softballová asociace European Softball Federation
 
 
 
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