GB Slowpitch announces team for Europeans

Fri 31 May 2019

GB Slowpitch Head Coach Stephen Patterson has announced the Great Britain Team that will try to reclaim the gold medal when they compete in the ESF European Co-ed Slowpitch Championship from 15-20 July in Budapest, Hungary.

A total of 18 players -- nine women and nine men -- have been selected to represent Team GB in a tournament in which a record 11 countries will be participating, with the Netherlands, Italy and Hungary competing for the first time.

The first European Co-ed Slowpitch Championship was played in 1998, and the GB Team won the gold medal on the first 10 occasions the tournament was held before unexpectedly losing to Germany in the final two years ago in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Ever since then, the target for the programme has been to get back to the European summit.

Training and trials

Following off-season training sessions and a series of intensive indoor trials, all of the players in the GB Slowpitch programme were invited to compete in the annual GB Challenge Tournament, held on 13 April at Farnham Park.  In this event, the GB players are divided into Red, White and Blue teams and compete against each other and an invited Challenger team.

Although the GB Challenge is not the sole event in which players are assessed for selection, it offers a great opportunity to see how players are able to apply what has been coached throughout the winter training. 

Although there are some familiar faces among the players selected for this summer’s European Championship, there are nine players in the squad who were not in Bulgaria in 2017, and a mixture of youth and experience among those selected.

The squad

The 2019 GB Co-ed Slowpitch Team chosen to compete in the European Championship is:

WOMEN                                           
Jenny Ball
Megan Beard
Vicky Chapman
Kim Hendry
Kirstie Leach
Chiya Louie
Ruth MacIntosh                         
Amy Rice                           
Claudine Snape                          

MEN
Kelvin Harrison
Steve Hazard
Mike MacDowell
Dan Spinks
Robbie Studholme
Aaron Thomas
Matt Tomlin
Duncan Waugh
Chris Yoxall

Head Coach Stephen Patterson said, “I believe we have a strong blend of speed, composure and power in both the men and the women.  This team is going to be exciting to watch.”

What’s clear is that this team is built to emphasise what has always been GB’s greatest advantage in Europe: the ability to consistently hit the ball over the fence. 

The team has also been bolstered by the return of Jenny Ball from injury and Chiya Louie from fastpitch, and former England rounders star Megan Beard will now be showcasing her softball ability on the European stage.

Stephen Patterson believes that: “This is a special time for Great Britain Slowpitch, and this may have been the toughest selection process for me and the staff.  We have a strong contingent of young talent that is on the brink of making these squads and they have pushed some our veteran players to the limit.  The result is that half the players are new to the 2019 squad, which promises a healthy future for the GB programme.

“These men and women have worked hard over the winter and are keen to accomplish their softball goals in Europe,” Stephen added.  “We now need to create a narrower environment that will translate into quality performances on the European stage.”

New-look tournament

GB players are excited about the prospect of playing in a new venue against new national teams, with the hosts Hungary joining the Dutch and Italians, traditionally the top countries in Europe, in playing in a European Slowpitch Championship for the first time.

One player said, “It’s great to see more European players embracing the slowpitch game.  It makes a welcome change from the years where there were just five or six teams in the competition.”

Meanwhile, Team Manager Kellie Whitaker and Assistant Coach David Lee paid tributes to the efforts of all the players who trialled and trained all winter.

“It was an impressive off-season,” Kellie said.  “Everyone in the programme pushed and pushed and pushed.  We will see many of them in future tournaments soon.”

Fundraising

Team GB will be running a number of fundraising activities between now and the Europeans 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.

Raffle prizes will include bats and two tickets to one of the MLB games in London at the end of June.

The team is planning to travel to Hungary on Saturday 13 July and will return to the UK on Sunday 21 July – hopefully with the winner’s trophy as part of the baggage!

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