The third annual Baltic Open, held in Skövde, Sweden on the weekend of 17-19 June, featured female and male fastpitch competition and was contested by seven national teams, including, for the first time, the Lithuanian Men’s Team.
The Baltic Open is a regional tournament organized to develop softball in the Northern European region.
NORTHERN EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP
While most of the tournament was focused on softball development, an official Nordic Championship game was played between the national women’s teams of Sweden and Denmark. Sweden won the game by a score of 7-2 and seized the Nordic Champion title for the third time in a row.
Four teams contested the women’s section of the Baltic Open: Denmark, Denmark U19, Lithuania and Sweden.
Due to rain, however, the tournament was shortened and not all teams were able to complete their round robin games. Because Sweden (2-0) went undefeated, they ranked before Denmark (2-1) Lithuania (1-2) and Denmark U19 (0-2).
Game results were:
Sweden 27, Lithuania 9
Denmark Seniors 6, Denmark U19 2
Sweden 7, Denmark Seniors 2 (Nordic Championship)
Lithuania 14, Denmark U19 11
Denmark Seniors 10, Lithuania 3
MEN’S FASTPITCH DEVELOPMENT
In the men's fastpitch part of the tournament, three teams competed: Denmark U19, Lithuania and Sweden. The host team Sweden was preparing for a first-ever appearance at a European Men’s Championship in July and used the Baltic Open as a part of their preparations, playing three games against Lithuania and Denmark U19, representing of one of the strongest men’s fastpitch programs in Europe.
In the game between Sweden and Denmark U19, the crowd was treated to a dynamic game of softball. The Danish team was stronger and won 6-3, but the Swedes, relying heavily on the pitching duo of Lewis Hamilton and Kalle Hjelm, demonstrated strong defense.
The Lithuanians came into the tournament with a team filled with strong hitters and good defenders, but with a lack of pitching experience, so in order to level the playing field in their game with Denmark U19, the Lithuanians were allowed to pick up pitchers.
Ami Baran pitching for the Lithuanian National Team
Game results were:
Lithuania 12, Sweden 5
Lithuania 4, Denmark U19 3
Denmark U19 6, Sweden 3
Sweden 12, Lithuania 2
The ESF’s development program is increasingly committed to supporting regional tournaments in Europe, with two such tournaments organized so far – the Baltic Open (Northern Region) and the Euroleague (Eastern Region).
The organizers of the Euroleague and the ESF Development Commission are currently working together to expand the regional tournament concept. While the Baltic Open is played by national teams, the Euroleague is based on club teams.
All European clubs are invited to take part in the growth of regional fastpitch tournaments. To learn more about the Euroleague, click here.
-Kristian Pälviä, Helena Novotná-