For the fourth time in a row, Czech Softball Extraliga was witness to a final series that featured the Prague arch-rivals - the Joudrs against the Eagles. And same as in the previous three cases, it was the Eagles who took the championship title, one game shy of a three game sweep of their opponents. The Joudrs, who finished second at the Premiere Cup this year and who won the Czech Softball Cup, had to make do with silver medals, having lost Game 4 of the Czech Series at their home field 4:3 after a nerve-breaking finish.
After regular season, the Eagles took second place right behind the Joudrs. During regular season, the Eagles lost eight games, whereas their rivals from across Prague lost only twice (scoring 252 runs and allowing a mere 40). As expected, both teams were seeded directly for the semifinal series. Both swept their opponents in three games. The Joudrs, who have not won the Czech title since 2010, were expected to have the upper hand in the Czech Series, given the sort of season they had had. The team, whose home field is located in Svoboda Park in Bohnice, won the Final Four of the Czech Softball Cup in September and made it all the way to the final game at the most prestigious European club tournament (Premiere Cup).
Contrary to general expectation though, it was the Eagles who took control of the series, proving once again how well they are able to get ready for the most important games of the season. “What I think decided was the fact that we know quite well how to play these games. We may not be so overpowering during regular season, but once the play-offs start, we step up and really star enjoying the ballgames. That’s another thing that helps us win - we’re simply having a lot of fun playing,” says Sabina Borecká, who is one of the key players not only for the Eagles, but for the Czech national team as well. Only 25 years old, she has already won 7 championship rings. The Eagles, whose home field is the wonderful ballpark area in Krč, shut out their opponents in the first two games (4:0 and 6:0), and after the first weekend they had three match-balls to take the cup.
They had their first go at it in Eagles Park, but came up short. The defensive game saw the Joudrs beat the home team after extra innings (final score was 2:1). The Joudrs, whose roster includes five players who play for the national team, forced Game 4, which was to be played at their home ballpark. But that was as far as they could get. “It really is a big disappointment. We always play well during regular season, but never manage to take that to the final series. And losing it all in such a close game - that hurts even more. Playing the finals is mainly a matter of mental strength, and that is something we still need to work on a bit. We know we can beat them, but we had a terrible first weekend and only started performing well on the second one,” said a disappointed Magda Polmanová, who also regretted that the Joudrs had not been a bit more disciplined in the box.
Game 4 was scheduled for Sunday at Svoboda Prague, Bohnice. The game was even until the fifth, when the Eagles got a couple of strong hits and managed to score four runs. Even though the home team managed to cut the deficit to one run in the bottom of seventh, the Eagles closed the game to clinch the title. “Usually, once you’ve got three in a row it tends to be pretty tough to add a fourth one. I’m really glad the series ended the way it did. Both teams played great ball and I must say it was the best series I’ve played so far,” said Borecká to a reported after the game, visibly very happy. She had nothing but words of praise for her Austrian teammate Martina Lackner: “She was unbelievable, both pitching- and hitting-wise.”
Eagles Praha – Joudrs Praha 3:1 (4:0, 6:0, 1:2, 4:3)