Because of the rain, the game schedule got crazy and we were playing really early in the morning and really late at night, which is why I haven't been able to update this blog as often. Also, two years ago at this tournament, a lot of teams complained that there were not enough games; especially for all the money they spent on travel. So this year, the tournament organizers took that into account, and may have went a little overboard. Many teams played a minimum of nine games, and we could have had a maximum of 12 in six days. This tournament was quite grueling with the game schedule, so many teams had to be very strategic with lineups in order to rest players.
Since the last blog, we had just started a game with Belgium that got rained out. So Tuesday morning we had an early wake-up call at 5:45 a.m. Our first game was scheduled for 9 a.m. against Germany. We were expecting Germany to be a close game, but we knew they were very beatable. The first couple innings we came out a little slow and weren't hitting and the Germans were taking advantage of some of our miscues. They went up three runs early, but later in the game we struck back for five runs and that score stood! We beat Germany in a tight game, 5-3. Later that day around 3 o'clock in the afternoon, we restarted the rained out Belgium game from where we left it in the top of the third inning. We were already up 4-0 and our bats came out hot. We ended up run-ruling them in five innings, which was nice so we could save some of our pitching and get our non-starters some at-bats.
Wednesday, we had another 5:45 a.m. wake-up call. We were all exhausted from the day before, but we were super stoked because we were now 3-0 as a team. We played Lithuania the first game, and we scored about 15 runs in the first inning to end up run-ruling them in three. We were then able to rest our bodies for a huge game against Russia. They always have a good program, so we were really preparing ourselves to play for a tense game. They started their ace pitcher, but we came out swinging. We brought out the mercy rule again, with a score of 9-2 victory in five innings. This was a huge win for the many of the girls, because they had never beaten Russia while they were growing up in the under-13 and under-16 tournaments.
Thursday was one crazy day. We had yet another 5:45 a.m. wake-up call and our first game out was the Czech Republic. At this point, these games were really starting to determine who advances to the round of four and who starts to play consolation games. The Czechs were certainly ready to play and they shut us out. Their pitcher was arguably the best pitcher in the tournament and many of our girls had never seen pitching like that. Once we lost that first game, we were all kind of bummed, but it actually worked out best for us. We now had an easier route to the final four. The next game was against France, and we were able to put the Czech game behind us. We ended up with another run-rule win, beating France in five innings, which put us in a position to play the Netherlands.
This is a game that I will never ever forget. We were down 5-0 in the bottom of the seventh and came back and tied it! Then we went down again (and in international tie breaker) by two runs, and we ended up beating them 8-7! This was hands down one of the biggest wins in GB softball history. This win put us in a position for the top four. Friday morning, we played Italy and we played a tight game with them but we came up just short. That bumped us down into the bronze medal game with Russia. By this time, we were running on pure adrenaline and Russia proved the depth that they had. We unfortunately lost that game, but that put us placing fourth in the tournament and ultimately fourth in Europe. This was the highest placing ever for the Great Britain under-19 softball squad.
This has been such an amazing experience with 15 girls who had just met one week ago. Most of us knew nobody and we all came from different parts of the world. To come together and have a run like this made it extra special. I am so proud to represent Great Britain!
Thanks for following along with this blog!