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Three top-level slowpitch player/coaches representing the bat manufacturer Combat Sports will spend 10 days in Great Britain and Ireland in May under agreements reached between the ESF and the ASA to help softball development in Europe.

The Combat team, consisting of Don Cooper, Johnny McCraw and one of the top female slowpitch players in America, Christan Dowling, will arrive in Ireland on May 6 and deliver a series of clinics on the weekend of May 7-8 in Dublin on behalf of Softball Ireland.

Topics will include slowpitch pitching, hitting, infield and outfield play, coaching strategy and game management.

Moving on to Britain

The Combat clinicians will then take a short flight from Dublin to England on Monday, May 9, and will spend the week delivering clinics to players and coaches from slowpitch leagues and working with young players.

On Monday evening, May 9, the coaches will do a clinic for the Manchester Softball League, then travel to Nottingham on May 10 to work with youth players in the afternoon and then do a clinic for the East Midland Softball League in the evening. On Wednesday, May 11, the coaches will do a session at Blue Coats School in Coventry in the afternoon and work on defensive skills with GB youth fastpitch players in the evening.

The Greater London Softball Mixed League will host the Combat coaches for a clinic on Thursday evening, May 12 at Finsbury Park, and the Windsor & Maidenhead League will host a Friday evening clinic at Farnham Park.

The Combat coaches will then spend the weekend of May 14-15 at Diamond Series 1 at Farnham Park, and will deliver a revolving series of one-hour modules on the topics listed above to teams of players during gaps in their tournament schedule.

Don Cooper from Combat Sports said: "We are truly looking forward to these clinics, and please don’t be afraid to pack as much into the events as you need. We have no problem being at the fields all day and night. We love talking softball, teaching and learning from others. We want to meet as many people and spend as much time with them as we can."

Helping European Development

While hosting costs for the clinicians will be met by Softball Ireland and the British Softball Federation, flight costs will be paid by Combat Sports through their sponsorship arrangement with the ASA.

When the idea of sending slowpitch coaches to Europe was originally discussed by the ESF and the ASA as part of their long-term development agreement, the idea was for clinics to be run alongside the European Slowpitch Championships in Dupnitsa, Bulgaria in July.

But the dates clashed with the Border Battle, a major international slowpitch event in the United States in which members of the Combat group play.

So the decision was taken for this visit to be to the two European countries where slowpitch is currently strongest, with the idea that the Combat slowpitch clinicians can visit other European countries in the future.