A thrilling qualification...|
PRAGUE (Czech Republic) - Terrasvogels qualified for the Final Round of the European Cup Tournament in Prague on Wednesday-evening by winning a thrilling 9-inning game vs. Skövde Saints (Sweden), 6-4. The team now will face Forlě (Italy) and SK Joudrs Praha (Czech Republic) on Thursday on the first day of Round 2, which will be completed on Friday with the match-up against Carrousel (Russia), which finished in first place in Pool A.
As Terrasvogels played its game today in the late afternoon, the morning and early afternoon could be used for other things.
The players decided to have an additional and un-scheduled practice session at a field closeby the hotel, while other members of the group did some cultural things.
Hans, Marianne, Nel and Jaco went to the Mucha Museum, which houses a rich collection of the work of Czech Art Nouveau painter Alphonse Mucha (1860-1939).
Mucha had his education in Brno, but later lived, studied and worked in Vienna (Austria), Munich (Germany) and Paris (France).
In Paris, he created and produced theatrical posters for plays with Sarah Bernhardt, the most famous actress in France in those days.
Mucha also created paintings, advertisements and book illustrations and designed carpets, wallpaper and theatre sets.
Alphonse Mucha died in July 1939, 10 days before turning 79 years old, after he was arrested by the Gestapo in the early days of World War II when he fell ill with pneumonia.
Loyal Terrasvogels-fan and groundskeeper Aad and Marco, who is the team's dug-out scorer this tournament, went to the Prague Castle, which dates back to the year 870.
At the Castle, the big Basilica of St. Vitus (building started in 1344) is one of the main touristic attractions, but also the Changing of the Guards at the entrance of the Castle is well-visited.
From the Castle, Aad and Marco walk across the worldfamous Charles Bridge (Karluv most), which originates from 1357 and is known for its painters, musicians and artists who all have their space on the bridge.
From there, the two went to Old Town Square, where the Astronomical Clock, Town Hall and Týn Cathedral are located in the old center of Prague, which is generally labeled as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.
From the rich history of Prague it was back to the softball-field, as the team went to the field of SaBaT Praha (the third different field in three days) for the game against Skövde Saints from Sweden.
In years past, teams from Sweden weren't considered as difficult opponents, it just were games 'for the record'.
But since the introduction of the 'pick-up players', all teams have gained strenghth in the last few years, especially in the pitching.
With this, the European Cup-tournament became more exciting and also more unpredictable.
And so it could happen that Terrasvogels had its hands full with Skövde and had to play an suspenseful, exciting thriller, which ended after nine innings.
Terrasvogels got a scoring opportunity in the first at bat.
With one out, Femke Haage reached on an infield-hit, then tried to reach third on a single to leftfield by Linda Hoenderdos, but was thrown out there.
In its first at, Skövde did open the score.
Terrasvogels-starter Crissy Autry walked lead-off batter Sofia Lundqvist, who later scored on an one-out double by Whitney Darlington.
It then took until the fifth inning for Terrasvogels to come alongside.
Since giving up Linda's single in the first inning, Skövde-pitcher Annele Huskins retired 12 of the next 13 batters, but then ran into control-problems in the fifth, shortly after Terrasvogels' Head Coach Glen Roff had made four defensive changes.
With two outs, Blake Hoorelbeke (who had entered the game at first base for Shannah van der Kaaij) walked, then advanced on a single by Solange Starrenburg (who had replaced centerfielder Marieke Jansen).
The bases were loaded when next batter Nathalie Gosewehr also walked, followed by a runscoring walk for Petra van Heijst (who had replaced Femke Haage). The fourth defensive change was a position change.
With the bases still loaded, more runs could have been scored, but the hard line drive hit by Linda Hoenderdos was caught by pitchers Huskins to end the inning.
As the score was still tied at 1-1 after seven innings, the game went into extra innings and thus the tie-break rule came into effect.
In the eighth, Petra van Heijst ran at second base, advanced on a sac-bunt by Linda Hoenderdos and scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch.
But Skövde came alongside in its eighth.
After giving up the double in the first inning, Crissy Autry threw five strikeouts in a row, but gave up an one-out single in the third, then a sacrifice bunt and was relieved by Dagmar Bloeming.
Dagmar did an outstanding job. She not only finished the inning with a groundout, but from there retired 15 batters in a row.
The last two of these were in the eighth inning (with a tie-break runner on second base).
But then two singles followed to make it 2-2.
In the ninth inning, Terrasvogels struck. And they did it right in time, as darkness started to settle in and the field didn't have artificial lights, meaning the Technical Commission could end the game at any moment.
Luckily, it didn't came to that decision, as Terrasvogels rallied for four runs, which was enough for the victory.
Tie-break runner Olga Kleinlooh moved to third base on a sacrifice bunt by Jamie Birk.
After next batter Blake Hoorelbeke was hit by a pitch, Olga scored on a wild pitch (it appeared she was out at the plate on the throw back from the catcher to the covering pitcher), which enabled Blake to reach third base.
The latter then scored on a double by Solange Starrenburg.
Nathalie Gosewehr followed with an infield-hit, then both she and Solange scored on a 2-out double by Linda Hoenderdos to raise the lead to 6-2.
In the home of the ninth, with the tie-break runner at second base, Dagmar Bloeming retired the side and ended the game with a strikeout to secure the win.
The team (and family, frieds and other Terrasvogels) erupted in celebration, as the Final Round was reached.
And now it's a complete different story.
Six teams (the top-3 from Pool A and B) now form a new group in which they take the results of the games played between the teams concerned with them and face the teams from the other pool.
The four best team will continue to the medal round (or page system).
From here, anything can happen and most teams have their fate in their own hands.
Terrasvogels is still a contender to reach the all-deciding Final next Saturday-afternoon!
A view of the city of Prague from the Castle Walls
Loyal Terrasvogels-fan Aad takes a photo of Prague
Changing of the guards at the entrance of Prague Castle
Aad with one of the Castle Guards outside the entrance
The Basilica of St. Vitus (Katedrála Svatého Víta)
The worldfamous Charles Bridge (Karluv most) across the River Moldau (Vltava)
On the always crowded Charles Bridge you can find paintings, artists and musicians
...or a boy with his three rats and dog
The Prague Castle (Prazský Hrad) with the Basilica of St. Vitus
The Old Town Square (Staromestske Namesti) with on the left the Astronomical Clock
and in the center the Týn Cathedral (Týnský Chrám)
The field of SaBat Praha
Players watch the previous game
Head Coach Glen Roff helds his pre-game meeting
Warming-up before the start of the game vs. Skövde
Nicole Wessels (back in uniform), Shannah van der Kaaij and Annemiek van Riessen
Some of the players' parents in the stands behind home plate
Check out the new lines towards third base and around home plate
Players give high-fives after completion of the pre-game infield/outfield-drills
The coaches and umpires are going over the ground-rules before the game
Femke Haage rounds second base in the first inning, but is thrown out at third
Starting pitcher Crissy Autry
Nathalie Gosewehr and Petra van Heijst in motion in the fifth inning
on the line drive back to the pitcher hit by Linda Hoenderdos
All in the Family
Players with their family and friends after the game