When the fifth edition of the regional, ESF sanctioned, fast pitch tournament “Baltic Open” was hosted by the Skövde Saints in Sweden, the tournament was the biggest ever with five participating women's teams and four men’s teams.
In the women’s tournament, Denmark came with two national teams, seniors and U19. Sweden also had their U19 team present. Norway formed a team for the first time in many years, and also an “All Stars” team from Sweden consisting of American players and several national team players participated. During the weekend, the shorthanded Norway team got some help in some games so that they could form a competitive team, despite the injuries. In the end of the tournament, the U19 national teams of Sweden and Denmark played an official Nordic Junior Championship game, in which host team Sweden was the strongest team, winning by a score of 16-4. Emelie Wennerberg was selected as Most Valuable Player.
In the men’s tournament, Sweden prepared for their European Championships by playing Denmark U19, Venezuela Softball Club, and a selection of slow pitch players from Norway, who just like in the Women's tournament, got some external help with pitching in order to play more competitively. In the final game, Denmark U19 took the win against Sweden.
The tournament was again a great catalyst for the countries in the northern part of Europe. Norway participated for the first time in many years with two teams, of which many had their first experience with fast pitch softball after playing baseball and slow pitch earlier. Hopefully Norway can follow the same path of Sweden, who after participating in the Baltic Open with a men’s team for the first time in many years later this month will be participating in a European Championship for the second time. Also, the Venezuela Softball Club has, through their experience in Baltic Open, been a huge catalyst to get more fast pitch men’s softball in Sweden's capital region, mainly through the Latino community.
The hosts, Skövde Saints, again had a solid organization with speaker, music, live broadcasts via YouTube, and a solid presence in social media through their Instagram account.
The tournament was officiated by a engaged umpire crew from Sweden and Denmark who worked long hours and days without complaint. A big “thank you” is in order for the men and women in blue!
Video interview with Ami Baran and Mette Nissen-Jakobsen of the ESF.
- Kristian Pälviä -
- Picture: Magnus Hallqvist -