2016 Highlights and 2017 Expectations
In 2016, three Softball European Championships and six European Cups took place. A total of 97 national and club teams from 25 European countries took part in 399 games.
Four of those nine tournaments were live streamed and you can watch the recorded games any time:
European Championship U-22 Women
European Championship Junior Women
Daily video summaries from the European Championship Men are available here.
National Teams of Germany, Sweden and Italy premiered at the Men's European Championship. Everyone who watched their games was amazed by the enthusiasm and excitement these teams brought onto softball fields. Belgium took bronze medals which was a historical success for Belgium, Czechs completed their golden hattrick.
Men’s Championship recorded the highest number of participating teams – ten. A similar record was also set at the Slowpitch Super Cup, which consisted of 14 teams.
Great Britain had never won a European Championship in baseball or fastpitch softball until Junior Women’s Championship in Sant Boi, Spain. Youth British players, lead by a talented pitcher Georgina Corrick, won the first historic title for their country.
photo by Fabio Cecchin
At both the Junior Women’s and the U-22 Women’s Championships, National Team of Lithuania took part. Their rosters were identical at both of those events. Softball program in Lithuania was established only a few years ago, and the National Team players collected some very valuable experience on which the base of the Lithuanian National Team program will be built.
Team Netherlands competed in U-22 Women's Championship for the first time and with no hesitation seized the title. Many will remember this Championship for an incredible performance of Irina Ilyashenko, a Russian pitcher, and for the most emotional, dramatic and heart-full game between the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Irina Ilyashenko, photo by Libor Matejka
photo by Jan Beneš
For the first time, in 2016, European Cups were open to unlimited number of European players as only non-European passport holders were considered pick-up players. The level of all European Cups increased. Thanks to the new rules, a team representing Malta entered a European official competition for the first time in history. This team, mostly consisting of Italian players, secured a spot in the 2017 Women’s Premiere Cup for Maltese Softball Federation.
photo by Antonia Fernandez
11 European teams competed in Surrey, Canada at the Women’s World Championship. The Netherlands changed history by placing fourth.
photo by Sergio Berdasko
Team GB took silver medals at the WBSC Co-Ed Slow Pitch World Cup.
photo credit WBSC
Number one news for all softball fans was the return of softball to Olympic Games in Tokyo 2020.
SIGNIFICANT MOMENTS TO EXPECT IN 2017
New presidents and executive council members will be elected in February for both European Softball Federation and Confederation of European Baseball. (A list of ESF EC candidates here)
Ten ESF competitions are planned for the next season. All ESF tournament names have been changed to correspond with the WBSC events and to become easier to identify.
Women’s Softball European Championship will be held in Bollate, Italy. 20 teams competed for the title in 2015 and expectations are high again.
U-16 Men’s European Championship will be organized together with the already traditional U-19 Men’s European Championship. U-16 men haven’t had their own official European competition yet and the establishment of this event is a great step forward in men’s fastpitch.
Not only U-16 men, but also U-16 women will compete for European title.
Fans of slowpitch softball will enjoy Coed Slowpitch Championship in Bulgaria in July.
Two more championships will be organized on the World level – men’s national teams will compete in Whitehorse, Canada and Junior Women’s Championship takes place in Florida, USA.
Basic Fastpitch Umpires Clinic is planned for April 24 – 29 in Prague. All umpires who want to take part in the ESF events and have not received their ESF license yet need to attend this clinic.
Whatever your role in softball is, whether you’re a player, a coach, a manager, or a scorer, an umpire, a clubhouse waitress, or just a fan, we wish you all the best in 2017. Enjoy another year full of softball. We’ll do our best to make it special.