The sixth edition of the ESF-sanctioned regional development tournament Baltic Open was played on May 31st through June 2nd at Saints Park in Skövde, with both men’s fastpitch and women’s fastpitch on the schedule.

Originally formed by the Swedish and Danish Federations from a concept developed by ESF Vice Presidents Kristian Palvia and Vice President Mette Nissen Jakobsen  in co-operation with the European Softball Federation, the tournament is aimed at developing and spreading fast pitch softball throughout the Baltic region. The tournament has been a catalyst for getting men’s fast pitch on the go in both Sweden, Norway, and Lithuania – and this year saw a new wave of potential fastpitch players in the Norwegian women’s team, of which the most never had played fastpitch before.  

In the women’s tournament, the tournament coordinator and ESF Vice President Kristian Palvia had set up an unbalanced schedule in order to maximize each teams needs: - Sweden wanted to play three games in preparations for the European Cup and use the rest of the weekend for practices and tests, while Denmark wanted to play as many games against the Sweden Seniors for the same purpose. From that, we then put together a schedule that maximized the number of games for each team.   

As for the Nordic Championship 2019, it was decided over three games between Sweden and Denmark, with Denmark prevailing, 2-1 (1-0, 0-12, 1-0) after two brilliant pitching performances by Danish pitcher Mathilde Nielsen. The Swedish U19 girls team went unbeaten in the tournament, 5-0, while the Norwegian team did not record a win in the standings – but being present was a win in itself. Seldom have we seen such joy after reducing the score from 1-17 to 2-17. - Our goal for the weekend was to score a run, and after a tough start we scored in three straight games, said a happy but unidentified Norwegian player.   

Norway did get some help over the weekend, having a short batting clinic with Skövde Saints head coach Priya Mohlén as well as getting help with pitching mechanics by ESF Secretary General Ami Baran.   

In the Men’s tournament, the Swedish national team played against the club team of Venezuela SC from Stockholm, as well as DK AllStars, a selection of Danish juniors put together with some Swedish players. The three teams played a triple round robin before semifinal and final games. The results were mixed but in the end, many games were tight and featured both good defense as well as towering homeruns. As always, super fun to see the boisterous club team of Venezuela SC participating in the men’s tournament.
In the end, the DK AllStars were victorious after beating Sweden in the final, 7-1.   

While the results don’t matter that much in this developmental setting, all results can be found on the Skövde Saints website.

The host club, Skövde Saints, put together the tournament for the sixth straight year and provided as always a solid hosting experience with a top notch playing surface and good grounds crew. Also, all games of the tournament were streamed and are available on the Skövde Saints YouTube channel.

Pictures from the tournament are available on the photographer Magnus Hallqvist’s webpage.

/Picture by: Magnus Hallqvist/