Milford student provides first-hand account of European softball tournament

Audrey Petoskey, Staff Writer

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Along with 54 other softball players and their parents, I traveled to Rotterdam, Netherlands to play softball in the 17st annual Euro Cup from January 13-15. We played professional and national teams in an indoor tournament in Schiedam (pronounced S’Dam) just an hour out of Amsterdam. Coming into the tournament, all the teams knew it would be different. We played inside with a slippery gym floor against professional 25-year-old beasts of softball players with a softie ball and half of a regulation softball field.

        We played in two sports halls in Schiedam. The Margriet and Groenoord Sports Hall surfaces were ice and provided not traction what so ever for chasing a bouncy, slippery rubber ball. I played outfield and with the softie ball bouncing like a bouncy ball, it is crucial that I get to the ball as fast as possible. So getting a good jump on the ball and reading it right off the bat is mandatory. However, getting the slightest early jump off reactions you will slip every time. The slippery floors were an enemy on defense and a friend when used correctly on offense.

        Offensively, the floor helped only for sliding into bases, but you had to make sure to control the slide and know the proper time to use it. Every time you slid, your momentum from running would take you about 10 ft. and with the 53 ft. bases, it took four hard steps and a slide and I was there. Controlling it was the first struggle. The bases were flat and taped to the floor; therefore; there was no grabbing the base to stop you. So to help this, the American teams who weren’t used to this floor took sliding practice to help control the slide. What ended up working for me was using my sticky batting gloves to stop along with dragging my toe against the floor to slow down when I was nearing the base. But the slippery floors were an advantage when used properly because you slid faster than you ran.  I was able to beat out a close play, including a dropped third strike, man times. I knew going into the tournament that this softball would be different softball than I was used to and I would have to make changes about how I usually played the game.

        One of the craziest changes I faced was on offense. While batting we started with a 1-1 count, meaning everyone started with one ball and one strike. You get four balls before the batter is awarded the base and three strikes before the batter is out. Starting with a 1-1 count is common for indoor games because they like to move the game along faster.  

        The biggest change that I had to get used to while playing was that there was no right field and also it was a smaller field. We played with eight people on the field and could only bat eight as well with a designated hitter. Where a right fielder should have been there were spectator stands. Our second basemen was backed up just a few feet from the start of the gym’s bleachers. So offensively, the Europeans teams used this shortened field to their advantage.  If the ball was hit into to the right of second base and past the rope they had set up it was an automatic single. Anything to the left of second base past the rope was an automatic double. European teams were used to this type of softball and knew exactly where to hit it to get the bases they needed. You can choose where the ball goes by your bat angle and how late or early you may swing for the ball.

So with these rules, there were no home runs at all, which was difficult because I am a homerun hitter. There was also a rule against hitting the ceiling. They had this in place because if you’re fast enough there is a possibility to out run a fly ball. It was often that a ball would hit the ceiling and come down either in a completely different direction or just straight down a lot faster than it was going up. So they put in a rule that the second time you hit the ceiling, it’s an automatic out.

After the tournament, everyone hopped on a bus for seven hours and drove to Paris, France to spend the remainder of our trip. There, we toured Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower and every Paris street between.

My team, Impact United, finished 6th overall, losing to the Netherlands U-22 national team, 1-0. Even though we finished 6th, we were the best U.S. team there with the next closest U.S. team finishing 8th, so in our minds we won that small American rivalry. I had such a great time over in both Rotterdam and Paris. Everyone over there was so kind and welcoming. It was so nice to not only be visiting these amazing counties, but also playing softball with a great group of friends and when we weren’t playing, we were running around the town looking for the best food and I couldn’t have asked for a better trip with better people.   

Here is my Impact United team with the Netherland’s National U22 team after our game.

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