The Austrian Softball League will find its Softball Fastpitch Champion this weekend. The 4-team tournament will be played on Friday and Saturday at Ballpark Spenadlwiese in the heart of Vienna.
The season, which started in July due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was played in two regional divisions, to minimize traveling. The winner and the runner-up of each division will now play for the title of the Austrian Softball Champion.
The Division East was dominated by the Vienna Wanderers and the Wiener Neustadt Crazy Chicklets. The two were also the finalists of last year's championship, with the Wanderers walking away with the title. Both programs are young, but already well-developed teams and will be hot candidates for a championship in 2020.
Caroline Meriaux, player and coach for the Vienna Wanderers said: "Despite the circumstances, we were able to keep building up our young team. The players invested a lot of time and effort to work on their skills. We are ready for the Final 4 and have a clear goal in mind: defending our last year’s title."
Also Mara Benckendorff, player for the Crazy Chicklets, is looking forward for this weekend: "We are super pumped for this Final 4. We want to show the very best Softball we can play. This season was different in many ways, but it was a great opportunity to give our young chicklets some extra playing time and prepare them for big moments like the Final 4. Still we were able to perform on a very high level and can all be proud on what we have accomplished already."
The Sharx, coming in as the 2nd place team in the West, will try to fight back into the medal race, since their tough loss in last year’s playoff: "It was one of our big goals to reach the final 4 this year while including the young players into our team to transform our team. For the first time, we will go into this tournament as the underdog, which is probably new to everybody. We will see how far we can go, but we want to show the best Softball possible and are looking forward to the final."
Also, the Witches Linz, who could win all their games in the division, are ready to show a great performance in the tournament.
"We are proud to be the winner of our division and qualifying for this year’s Final 4." Gabriele Hardinger, Manager Witches Linz, said. "We will keep on pushing and want to perform as well as we can. From there on, we will see how far we will come. Our "YoungStars" we able to get more experience throughout the season. We are thrilled to see them going out there and perform and are very positive about the future of our players.“
After two seeding games on Friday, the tournament will be finished on Saturday with a Page System mode. The final will take place Saturday at 6 PM.
“We are very happy to be able to be back out in the fields again and play the sport we love. I want to thank all authorities, but especially all our clubs, players, and coaches for their extra efforts during this very special situation. The teams showed great performances despite the troubles over the last months, and we are all looking forward to a great weekend of the best Softball Fastpitch in Austria. May the best team win!” Rainer Husty, President of the Austrian Baseball Federation, commented.
/ Austrian Federation Press Release
Photos courtesy Vienna Wanderers Facebook page and Cristiano Gatti