September 25, 2021, marked a historical day for Finnish softball: after many years of absence, softball returned to Finland. In the first official game in over a decade, the Tampere Tigers topped the Helsinki Sand Storm to win the Finnish National Champion title.
The 2021 Finnish softball champions are the Tampere Tigers. The Tigers claimed the Finnish Softball League Title, defeating the Helsinki Sand Storm, 14-9. Savanna Ryan (Helsinki Sand Storm) and Faith Jepkogei (Tampere Tigers) won the MVP awards.
"We are more than thrilled to be able to have the opportunity to play this sport once again. Softball has been on a long hiatus here in Finland, but it has never fully left," Lead Softball Development Coordinator for the Finnish Baseball & Softball Federation Bailey Chalmers-Vuorensyrjä commented on the return of softball in Finland, "The excitement and optimism behind the players and our community have been spreading tremendously. We have big plans to continue the growth of the game of softball up here in the north."
As 2021 Finnish National Champions, the Tampere Tigers qualified for the Women's Softball European Cup 2022.
Ms. Chalmers-Vuorensyrjä, also responsible for the Tampere Tigers Softball programme stated: "Being crowned Finnish Champions has allowed this team to value and appreciate the title more so because there has been such a long softball absence. Having the opportunity to play in the Women’s Softball European Cup is something the Tampere Tigers will not take for granted. We are more than grateful to be competing on an international level, but we also have a lot of proving to do in order to catch up from our lost years."
Baseball and softball are growing in Finland, also thanks to the similarity to pesäpallo, which counts 18,000 registered players and is one of Finland's national sports.
"It was incredible seeing for the first time the caliber of softball players this country has produced," Mr. Chalmers-Vuorensyrjä said, "Especially the athletes coming from pesäpallo, which is a game with nearly the same fundamentals as softball/baseball."
Photos courtesy of SBSL