Record number of entries for European Slowpitch Super Cup

Mon 5 Mar 2018

If further evidence were needed that slowpitch softball is growing on the European continent, this summer’s European Co-ed Slowpitch Super Cup will have its highest-ever number of competitors, with 16 teams having confirmed their entry.

Following the deadline for entries on 31 December 2017, 19 teams had signed up from 10 different countries.  But three teams pulled out before the ESF’s 1 March deadline for withdrawal without penalty, so 16 teams from nine countries will compete when the tournament is held from 30 July to 4 August in Riccione, Italy.

This is two more than the last record-setting Slowpitch Super Cup in 2016, and the big news is that not only is an Italian club hosting the tournament, but two Italian teams have entered – the very first time that Italy has taken part in an ESF slowpitch competition.

The competitors​

Generally, no more than two teams per country are allowed to enter the European Slowpitch Super Cup, but Great Britain will have three teams in the competition, since H2O have an automatic entry as defending champions.

The other two British teams will be the Pioneers, who won the NSL National Championship in 2016, and Chromies, who regained the NSL Championship last year.

Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, Ireland and Italy have entered two teams each, with one entry from Austria, Bulgaria and France.

The three teams that withdrew included a second team from Austria and, sadly, two Slovenian teams, confirming the problems that Slovenian softball is having in maintaining a presence at international level despite excellent results over the past decade.

GB results​

While the Great Britain Co-ed Slowpitch Team had never lost a European Championship until last summer, British results in what started as the annual European Slowpitch Cup and then became the biennial European Slowpitch Super Cup, have been mixed.

During the six years of the annual European Slowpitch Cup, which began in 2007, British teams won the title four times, with the Chromies winning three of them, including the inaugural event, and the gold medal in 2008 going to Baker Tomkins.  But the Irish team Dodder Dynamoes won the tournament in 2009 and the Slovenian team Lisicke won in 2012.

During those years, the number of entries ranged from four to eight teams, with each country allowed only one place.

The first Slowpitch Super Cup, where countries could enter two teams, took place in 2014.  A total of 12 teams entered, and the UCE Travellers from Germany won the title.

In 2016, entries grew to 14 teams, and Britain finally got back in the winner’s circle, with H2O defeating Chromies in the final.

This summer, with 16 teams competing, Britain will probably be favoured to produce the winner from one of its three teams, but this is by no means a lock.  And everyone will be curious to see what the Italian teams have to offer.

Boom times

It’s not only the European Slowpitch Super Cup that will have a record number of teams this year, as entries are up in most ESF competitions.

The first-ever European Men’s Slowpitch Championship will take place this summer, and a surprising seven teams have entered, including both Italy and the Netherlands, generally seen as the leading fastpitch countries in Europe.  The other entries are Great Britain, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany and Ireland.

The top fastpitch tournaments in Europe this year will be the Under-22 and Under-19 Women’s Championships, with 16 entries in the U-22 Championship, doubling the previous high, and 17 countries playing in the U-19 tournament, another new record.

GB Softball will be sending its Under-19 Team to defend the European Junior Championship title it won in 2016, while a GB Under-22 Team will be entering this competition for the first time, and has been seeded 10th.

Finally, the European Men’s Championship will also set a new record this summer with 12 countries competing, two more than the record of 10 set two years ago.  The GB Men’s Fastpitch Team will come in as the fifth seed.

European Cups

In the annual European Women’s Cup tournaments, entries are down slightly in the Premiere Cup, which requires qualification, but in both the Women’s Cup and the Women’s Cup Winners Cup, entry levels, at 11 and 13 respectively, have matched previous highs.

Great Britain will have teams in two of these competitions, with Great Britain Fastpitch League 2017 winners The Mix in the Women’s Cup and GBFL runner-up London Angels in the Cup-Winners Cup.

The European Men’s Super Cup will have 18 teams competing this year, down on previous highs of 20 teams last year and 23 in 2015.  But a British team – the Meteors Men’s Team – will be in the tournament this year for the first time since the Super Cup format began in 2012.

The final European Cup tournament this year will be the Massimo Romeo Youth Trophy for Under-13 girls and boys, to be held in Collecchio, Italy, in August.  The GB Under-13 Team will be there, playing as the London Cubs, but as entries are open until 15 April, it remains to be seen whether the previous high of 13 teams, set last year, will be surpassed.

So far, nine teams from six countries have entered.

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