by Robert Baldwin
Wiesbaden senior pitcher Allison Urick struck out nine and contributed two huge hits as Wiesbaden defeated Ramstein 9-5 to win the Division 1A softball title at the Landstuhl softball complex.
Looking at the standings after the regular season, the top six teams had winning records, with Vilseck, Ramstein, Vicenza and Stuttgart on top and Kaiserslautern in the pack with eight league wins. But then came the bottom three – Lakenheath at 2-6, Wiesbaden at 2-10 and SHAPE without wins. The conversations focused around who would win it all, which one of those top teams would have enough. No one outside of the Wiesbaden community mentioned the Warriors in that conversation. How wrong they were.
Ramstein advanced to the finals. With the best catcher in the league, solid pitching and enough hitting, there was no surprise. But where did Wiesbaden come from? Two league wins and they are in the finals of the European tournament? How could that be?
With Ramstein freshman pitcher Lauryn Szczygiel on the slab, Wiesbaden’s Isabel Davis led off with a double to left center just out of the reach of shortstop Paige Nielsen. But Szczygiel fanned the next two hitters and got Urick to ground out shortstop to first.
In the Royals half of the inning, Abby Hollenbeck walked and scored on Mykal Taylor’s hard hit double to right. Urick then plunked Nielsen on the back, but righted the ship and whiffed Anna Maria Staukenbury on three pitches to end the inning.
The Warriors broke it open in the second with six runs on five hits. Nicole Henriquez started the inning by legging out an inside the park home run when Staukenbury barely missed the liner and the ball rolled to the fence. Following an infield error, Warriors center fielder Serenity Woodland stroked a ball in the left field gap and came all the way around for a 3-1 Wiesbaden lead.
Szczygiel got the next two outs on a grounder and strike out, but Davis singled again, went to second on a wild pitch and scored on a single by Cassie Laliberte. Szczygiel hit the next hitter. Urick crushed a fastball in the gap to left knocking in two more and the Warriors were up five.
In the Ramstein second, Syd Smith’s bunt back to the pitcher brought home a run. Madison Jarvis hit a squibber in the infield for a hit, knocking in the third run.
After a scoreless Wiesbaden third, the Royals struck again when Staukenbury knocked home Nielsen, who was hit by a pitch a second time, and it was 6-4 Wiesbaden.
The Warriors added two more in the top of the fourth on a two run single by Urick. Ramstein scored again in the fourth, but Wiesbaden iced it with a run in the fifth for the 9-5 final.
For Wiesbaden, it was an amazing ending to an unusual year. Both Ramstein and Stuttgart were very strong and Kaiserslautern was beating teams as well. Plus, Wiesbaden was swept by Vilseck in the regular season finale, not exactly creating the type of momentum wanted for a tournament.
Even in the first few games of the tournament, Wiesbaden was not overwhelming anyone, including a loss to Stuttgart in the second game. But they defeated Vicenza, which was flying through the opponents in the tournament, with Urick, the tournament’s most valuable player, striking out 11 in seven innings.
Ramstein made it to the finals following a stunning 10-9 defeat of Kaiserslautern despite being down 6-0. But two five-run innings gave them the lead and they held on despite a three-run last ditch effort by the Raiders to seal the victory.
Mykal Taylor, Ramstein’s junior catcher, looked at the season as a success even though they did not win the last game.
“I am very happy at what we did,” she said. “I am kind of sad that we didn’t take it all. But at the same time, we grew as a team, so it was kind of a win. It wasn’t what we wanted, but we have to move on.”
Four different teams have won the softball title the last four years, so it is anyone’s guess who will be the favorites next year. But if Taylor has any say in the matter, it is a guarantee that Ramstein will be among the favorites.
“We have to come on with a vengeance next year,” she said. “We will start early. We are going to develop our pitchers. They will be a little older and we are going to come back a little bit stronger.”
Taylor came to Ramstein this year, but she already knows the challenges that face the teams here.
“We don’t know what we will have next year. We have people moving and a lot of seniors graduating. But we will come back with something.”
Taylor and teammate Szczygiel both made the all tournament team.
In the Division III/II finals, Sigonella won for the third straight year, defeating Rota 11-1.