The World Champion New Zealand’s Black Sox accepted an invitation from the European Softball Federation to compete against Team Europe in an exhibition game (watch here).

This event followed the Black Sox’s win in the Intercontinental Cup and was held in Havlickuv Brod, Czech Republic – one of the ballparks of the WBSC Men’s Softball World Cup 2019.

Europe has seen it’s men’s softball top selection for the first time ever. There were 20 players representing 12 countries. (See the roster  here)

The exhibition game took 10 innings, the stadium saw a total of 21 hits; 5 of those were homeruns hit by Vaclav Svoboda (CZE), Daniel Julenon (DEN), Anthony Cross (FRA), Ben Enoka (NZL), Rhys Evans (NZL).

While New Zealand was resting its top pitcher Nik Hayes, Team Europe let all of its players in the game for this extraordinary occasion. At least one run was scored in each of the eight innings. Team Europe had bases loaded also in the bottom of the 9th but that did not result in any change of the score.

After a tight and attractive ten-inning game, European selection won 6:5. (stats, live-scoring  here)

„I knew it was gonna be close, I knew we had some good players in Team Europe, and I knew our pitching staff was pretty strong as well,“ said Kevin Stockford, one of the coaches for Team Europe. The team was put together only for this event, but the players handled it with no hesitation: „They’re ball-players, they know how to turn out and play,“ Stockford confirmed. „The guys know each other, we were on the same page all the time,“ Ben Ten Pas, another of the staff, added.

For the players, it was a great honor, and for some of them, it was also the only chance to face the Black Sox in their careers. „It was great, I loved it,“ said one of the players, Felix Schwan, „I think it was excellent, that we didn’t just come for the game, but we’ve spent most of the day together, we had lunch, the travel, reception at the city hall. I enjoyed it.“

National Team of New Zealand spent ten days in the Czech Republic: „It was an amazing experience, obviously the softball was pretty good, just today, of course, today we are a bit disappointed. But in terms of learning for the Worlds next year, we’ve achieved what we needed to achieve. We’re looking forward to the next year,“ said Casey Eden, manager of the Black Sox. „All credit to Team Europe, they played better than us, they hit better than us, so they deserved to win the game.“

-Helena Novotna-

/photo by Libor Matejka/