GB Slowpitch Head Coach Stephen Patterson has announced the players selected for the Great Britain Co-ed Slowpitch Team, with the aim of retaining the gold medal they won in the 2019 European Championship in Hungary.
This year’s event will take place from 11-16 July in Ljubljana, Slovenia, and after three long years, the Great Britain Co-ed Slowpitch Softball National Team will finally be heading back to Europe with the goal of bringing home another Championship title. If successful, it will be their 12th in 13 tries.
Not only will Team GB be competing for the European Championship, but they will also be vying for a place in the long-awaited WBSC Co-ed Slowpitch World Cup, expected to be held in 2023. Only the top two or three finishers at the Europeans are likely to qualify.
"There is a different air of excitement for the 2022 Championship,” Stephen Patterson said. “It seems like forever since we've been able to compete internationally, and there was so much passion displayed by everyone in the GB programme, from the named squad players to everyone who trialed and made themselves available. It was a tough selection process and every player should be proud of their efforts."
The Selection Committee, consisting of three coaches and four external assessors, attended both the Open Trials early in the year and the GB Challenge games in April. In the end, a total of 18 players -- nine women and nine men -- were selected for the 2022 European Championships.
Players and staff
The selected players are:
Alternates will be chosen and notified should anyone decline their selection, not meet ongoing expectations or get injured prior to the tournament.
The GB Co-ed Slowpitch Team staff is:
Head Coach: Stephen Patterson
Assistant Coach: David Lee
Team Operations Manager: Kellie Whitaker
Obstacles, training and trials
Although international softball has been interrupted by Covid for much of the past two years, many GB Slowpitch players identified ways to improve themselves and get together in small groups to train, and the programme continued to bond via on-line social meetings.
This created a consistency in both communication and friendly banter!
This year finally saw a return to something approaching softball normality. Off-season indoor training sessions occurred, indoor trials were held, and all players in the GB Slowpitch programme were invited to compete in the annual GB Challenge Tournament, held at Farnham Park in April. As in the past, GB players divided into Red, White and Blue teams and competed against each other and an invited Challenger team.
Although the GB Challenge is not the sole event at which players are assessed for selection, it offers a great opportunity to see how players are able to apply what has been coached during winter training in game and pressure situations.
Youth and experience
Stephen Patterson has always been keen on creating a new look for Team GB, and this has been accomplished again in 2022, as six players selected for this summer’s European Championship were not in Hungary in 2019. But there is also plenty of experience in the squad, with a number of familiar faces among those selected to wear the Team GB jersey.
"We are delighted with the progression of some of the younger players in the programme,” Coach Patterson said. “Combined with the talent of our GB veteran players, it feels like the 2022 version of Team GB can be very special.
“The days of just hitting a ball over the fence are behind us as we move to more purpose-built venues,” Stephen added. “The game across Europe has matured, and to keep pace, our 2022 GB Team is made up of players who know the game and play well together.
“The Co-ed game represents a unique dynamic where both men and women are equal players on the diamond. I believe all our players bring a range of abilities that will be fun to watch and we are really looking forward to the tournament.”
Assistant Coach David Lee said, "We haven't lost sight of our ability to hit well, but on defense, and with quality pitching, you also have to make outs. This team has been put together to do all of these."
"We know how important the European Championship is to our programne and our players,” said Team Operations Manager Kellie Whitaker, “and I think the squad we have announced proves that."
The GB Slowpitch Team will be running a number of fundraising activities between now and the European Championship to support their travel and accommodation costs and are asking the wider softball community to support these events and raffles in any way they can.
The team is currently in the midst of its travel planning.
“As always, we appreciate all the support from the softball community,” Kellie Whitaker said, “and we look forward to bringing home another European Championship!”