ESF releases schedules for women’s events

Mon 1 Apr 2019

The European Softball Federation, now known as Softball Europe, has released schedules for all its Women’s Championships and Cup tournaments this summer, and three British teams now know who they will face when their tournaments get under way.

The three British teams are:

  • The GB Women’s Fastpitch Team, which will compete in the 2019 European Women’s Championship from 30 June-6 July in Ostrava and nearby towns in northeast Czech Republic and southwest Poland.  To move on to the Europe/Africa Olympic Qualifier, scheduled to be played in Utrecht in the Netherlands on 23-28 July, the GB Team will need to finish in the top six places.  
  • The GB Under-16 Women’s Fastpitch Team, which will compete in the European Under-16 Women’s Championship from 29 July-3 August in Zagreb, Croatia.
  • The British women’s fastpitch club team The Mix, which will compete in the European Women’s Cup, one of three ESF Women’s Cup tournaments, from 19-24 August in Dupnitsa, Bulgaria.

GB Women

Twenty-three countries have entered the European Women’s Championship and will start the tournament in four round-robin groups.

Great Britain, seeded third and led by Head Coach Rachael Watkeys, has been drawn in Pool D, the only pool with just five teams, and will face Greece, Germany, Croatia and Switzerland in the opening round.

Only two teams from each pool will progress to the Championship round-robins and the chance of a place in the Olympic Qualifier, so it is imperative that GB finishes first or second in this opening group.  But a first-place finish is important, as it will mean an easier path in the second round and a better chance of progressing in the tournament.

GB will begin round-robin play at 9.00 am on Sunday 30 June in Ostrava against probably the toughest opponent in the group -- Greece – but that will be GB’s only game on Opening Day.

On Monday morning GB will face Germany at 10.00 am in Zory, a small town across the border in Poland, but will return to Ostrava for a 4.15 pm encounter with Croatia.

GB’s final opening round pool game, on Tuesday morning at 9.30 am, will be against Switzerland in the Czech town of Frydek-Mistek.

Second-round games, featuring the eight teams that finished first or second in opening-round pools, will begin on Tuesday afternoon and continue through Wednesday.  If the GB Women finish first in Pool D, they will play the second-place teams from Pools B and C and the first-place team from Pool A.  This will be a lot better than coming second in the opening group and facing first-place teams from Pools B and C and the second-place team from Pool A.

Six of the eight teams will advance to the third round, taking their second-round records with them, but these six teams will have the comfort of knowing that they will be in the Olympic Qualifier.

With a number of countries bolstering their rosters to try to get to the Olympic Qualifier, the competition for those six spots could, realistically, involve up to 10 or 11 teams, including the Netherlands, Italy, GB, the Czech Republic, Russia, Greece, Ireland, Germany, Israel, Sweden and France.

GB Under-16s

Nothing quite so dramatic as a possible Olympic place will be at stake in the European Under-16 Women’s Championship, but 14 countries will be battling for medals.

This tournament will begin with four round-robin groups of either three or four teams each, and the GB Under-16s, who finished fifth in 2017 and are led once again by Head Coach Jo Malisani, have been drawn in Pool A along with the Czech Republic and the host team Croatia.

Two teams from each pool will advance to the Championship rounds.

Great Britain will start the tournament with a single game at 11.15 am on Monday 29 July against the second-seeded Czech Republic and will complete the opening round at 9.00 on Tuesday morning against Croatia.

Second-round games, featuring the eight teams that finished first or second in opening pools, will begin on Tuesday afternoon following a coin toss to determine home teams for that round and will continue through Wednesday, with six of the eight teams advancing to the third round, but taking their second-round records with them.

The Mix

The Mix, who no longer play as a team in the Great Britain Fastpitch League but still attend tournaments in Europe, will be playing in the European Women’s Cup for the second straight year.

Last year, The Mix, coached by Robbie Robison, finished second in their initial round-robin group and advanced to the Championship playoffs, eventually finishing sixth out of nine teams.

This year, nine teams have entered the tournament again, which will be played as a single round-robin from Monday through Friday, with bronze medal and gold medal games on Saturday 24 August.

So The Mix will have single games on Monday and Friday and two games each on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to complete the full round-robin.

Their opponents, in the order that The Mix will play them, will be:

Skovde Saints (Sweden)
Atletico San Sebastian (Spain)
Akademics Sofia (Bulgaria)
Gepardy Zory (Poland)
Angels Dupnitsa (Bulgaria)
Beit Shemes (Israel)
Princ Zagreb (Croatia)
Horsholm (Denmark)

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