We’ll be in cities across Europe this coming week, Stuttgart, Vienna, Budapest, Zurich, Rotterdam, but it’s Milan we’ll be calling home base as we watch 23 European softball nations compete for the 20th European Championship title.
The single elimination round-robin tournament begins on Sunday, June 25th with finals the following Saturday afternoon. Heading into the tournament, Italian softball ranks second in Europe only to The Netherlands, according to the WBSC, so we might see some of the homeland women battling in those final rounds. Then again, it’s a single elimination competition so anything can happen.
June is a big month for team Italy. Heading into the tournament they have a new pitching coach who has been on the job less than three weeks. Three of their expected players - Marta Gasparotto, 2nd baseman/pitcher Elisa Grifagno and Melany Sheldon – have also just returned from competing abroad with the Junior College Athletics Association.
In the Italian Softball League (ISL) there are three groups of teams. In the A series, the top level in the country, teams from Bollate, Torino, LaLoggia, Supramonte and Cairo compete. To date, Bollate is leading the league this season in batting and pitching while LaLoggia is tops in fielding with a .960 fielding percentage.
Bollate’s team batting average is .348 with 25 walks and just 22 strikeouts between them. They also like to run. On the bags they’ve stolen 25 in 30 attempts. Tops on their leader board is Selene D’Angelosante who is averaging .515 at the plate with 19 runs off 17 hits. She also leads the league in runs scored. Right behind her, hitting .500 is teammate Irene Costa. Costa is a slugger. She has 14 runs off 14 hits with 17 RBIs including a double, a triple and two homeruns. Not surprisingly she leads the ISL in RBIs and homeruns.
The Bollate bullpen’s ERA is 1.84 with a 9-1 record over 61.0 innings of play. They’ve walked 19 while striking out 58. The league’s top pitcher however throws for Torino. Marta LaMontagna has a 1.06 ERA with a 4-1 record over 27 innings. She’s given up just 4 earned runs and walked only 7 while striking out 26.
Topping the league in stolen bases is LaLoggia’s Michela Corazza who has stolen 18 in 19 attempts. Her numbers are more than double of the next person in the league. If she makes the national team roster for the tournament, the competition will have to work hard to hold her to the bag.
The Italian pitchers are off to a strong start this season. Both LaLoggia’s Chiara Biasi and Torino’s Marta LaMontagna have thrown 2 shutouts. Irene Costa of Bollate and Elisa Bianchi, also from Torino, each have 1 apiece.
The national team rosters are expected to be released the night before competition begins. No matter who makes the team it is clear Italy is not short on talent. Assuming they don’t fall victim to a Cinderella story, we’ll be expecting big things from the national team next week.
Italy's baseball teams spent the early part of June on the road. Rimini, San Marino and Bologna were all in the European Champions Cup. Bologna finished in 2nd with San Marino trailing them in 3rd and Rimini placing 5th. During the Federations Cup qualifier Rome's team out of the IBL's E series competed in Serbia.
Leading the league in batting is Nettuno's Leomart Rodriguez with an average of .475 including 9 doubles, 5 triples and 2 homeruns. He also leads the league in runs scored with 28 and total bases with 54. San Marino has the league's leading pitcher. Marino Salas has a .33 ERA and a 9-0 W/L record. He's given up just two earned runs through 54 innings walking 22 while striking out 107.