Author: columlavery

Bronze Medal for Irish Players in Premier Cup

Ireland’s Jenna Devens and Sydney Horton won bronze medals with their club team Bonn Capitals at the recent WBSC Europe Premier Cup.

Bonn Capitals (GER) clinched victory against Rivas (ESP), marking Germany’s first medal in the Women’s Softball European Premier Cup. The Capitals orchestrated a decisive third-inning surge, propelling themselves to a three-run lead.

Though Rivas managed to mount a late comeback effort, securing one run in the top of the fourth inning and further in the fifth, Bonn Capitals held on to win a historic medal .

In winning the bronze medal, Jenna and Sydney become the first Irish players to medal at fastpitch’s premier club european softball tournament.

Congratulations to Jenna and Sydney on a memorable tournament.

Jenna Devens, left, and Sydney Horton pictured at the launch of the Women’s Softball World Cup

WBSC Softball World Rankings: Ireland stays as world No. 17 in women’s softball

Following the conclusion of the World Cup Group Stages and Canada Cup, the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) released the latest World Rankings for Women’s Softball with Ireland retaining its position of 17th in the world from among 65 softball programmes with 699 points.

The WBSC Softball World Rankings measure national team performance from the U-12 to the top level in WBSC-sanctioned international competitions over a four-year period including the recent WBSC Women’s Softball World Cup Group Stages and the U-15 Women’s Softball Asia Cup.

Ireland’s ranking of 17th coupled with Israel and Germanys drop in the rankings, means Ireland are now the 6th highest ranked European nation in women’s world softball.

The rankings also reflect the expiration of points in 2019 going back four years such as the Women’s Softball Asian Championship 2019 and Women’s Softball European Championship 2019. The rankings do not reflect the points earned by Ireland when finishing third at the 2023 U-18 European Championships

Women’s Softball World Rankings in detail

WBSC Women’s Softball World Cup Group A winners the United States and Group C winners Japan (3,201 points) retained their positions as No. 1 and No. 2 in the World Rankings while Group B winner Puerto Rico and Chinese Taipei switched positions this time, the former taking the No. 3 spot with 3,096 points and the latter moving down to No. 4 with 2,812 points.

Canada and Mexico also retained their positions at fifth and sixth, respectively, followed by Australia moving up two places to No. 7.

European programmes ItalyNetherlands and Czech Republic are in eighth to 10th positions. Italy stayed at No. 8, while the Netherlands moved one place up and Czech Republic moved three places down in the rankings.

Positions 11 to 20 have seen a lot of movement in the ranking, as No. 11 China, No. 12 Spain and No. 17 Ireland held on to their positions, while five programmes, namely Great BritainCubaVenezuelaBrazil and Peru have all moved up the rankings.

Cuba made the biggest jump, moving 14 positions to No. 14 followed by Curacao (up 13) and Botswana (up 11), while Israel and Germany moved six and five positions down No. 19 and 20, respectively.

Irish Interest in WBSC Europe Premier Cup

The cities of Saronno and Legnano in Italy will play host to the Women’s Softball European Premier Cup from August 21st to 26th.

The ten top clubs from across Europe which include Bonn Capitals (GER), Chicaboo’s Stabroek (BEL), Joudrs Praha (CZE), Les Pharaons (FRA), Olympia Haarlem (NED), Rivas Madrid (ESP), Saronno (ITA), Tex Town Tigers (NED), Vienna Wanderers (AUT) and Wittenbach Panthers (SUI).

There is Irish interest in this years tournament with Jenna Devens and Sydney Horton lining out for the German Champions, the Bonn Capitals. Jenna and Sydney have spent 2023 playing club softball in Germany and recently retained the regional title.

The ten teams are divided into two groups to play an initial round-robin stage, after which the teams ranked fourth and fifth will contend in the relegation round, solidifying the rankings from eighth to tenth.

Meanwhile, the top six teams will embark on another round-robin, setting the stage for the ultimate battles in the Bronze and Gold Medal games.

We wish Jenna, Sydney and the Bonn Capitals the best of luck in the week ahead.

You can follow Jenna, Sydney and all the games on the WBSC Europe event’s website and watch the games live on the WBSC Europe YouTube Channel.

Ireland U-18s WNT take European Bronze and Punch their ticket to the Under 18 World Cup

After a week that started with a 12:0 loss to Spain in their opening Group Game, the Ireland Women’s Under 18 Fastpitch Softball team overcame this set back to win a magnificent Bronze medal at the European Championships held in Prague defeating Netherlands in an edge of the seat Bronze final. Their victory also secured a coveted place at the U18 World Cup in 2024.

The Irish team was one of the youngest teams at the tournament, with an average age of 15 & half with 10 out of the 13 players on the roster eligible for the next edition of the tournament in 2025.

The turning point of the tournament for Ireland came on the second day of the group stage as an unfancied Ireland beat higher ranked Germany 13:7 following this just four hours later by beating Great Britain 8:5 in the night game. With a win against Hungary on Day 3 of the tournament and Great Britain’s victory over Spain, Ireland secured a place in the top 8 and progressed to the elite round as a second seed in search of a medal.

Ireland could not have asked for a tougher elite round as they took on the number 1 ranked team in Europe, Italy, number 2 ranked the Netherlands and number 8 ranked Israel. Under the format of the tournament, Ireland knew one win would secure a place in the medal round and a top 6 ranking, but realistically 2 wins would be very helpful to keep gold medal chances alive.

Though losing both their games to the Netherlands and Italy 7:0, Ireland showed it was capable of mixing it with the best in Europe who on average were 2 years older than the Irish team. A key game for Ireland was its contest with Israel and though it remained close at the start, Ireland pushed on to win 16:6 and in-turn, secure a place in the Super Round and continue its pursuit for a medal.

Ireland started the Super Round with a resounding 18:0 win over the Ukraine, guaranteeing the team a minimum 5th place finish at the tournament, and leaving Ireland still chasing a medal. Day 6 of the tournament was going to decide Ireland’s faith and standing in our way of playing for a Bronze medal was Great Britain who themselves needed to beat Ireland to reach the Bronze medal game.

I am so proud of what this young team has achieved, they never gave up fighting for their country, their family and themselves. They did everything we could ask of them as coaches and deserve to be going home with a medal and a place in the 2024 World Cup. I am so excited about the future of Irish Softball.

Melanie Cunningham, U18 WNT Head Coach, Director of Fastpitch Ireland

Great Britain, still smarting from their loss earlier in the tournament, threw everything at Ireland in the first few innings of the game, but Ireland dominated from start to finish, winning 10:1 and run-ruling the Great Britain team in the 5th inning. A loss to hosts Czech that evening, confirmed that Ireland would once again play Netherlands for a Bronze medal and a place at the 2024 World Cup.

Ireland Head Coach Melanie Cunningham celebrates with the team after being presented the trophy

On a wet Saturday afternoon in Prague, nobody other than the Irish ourselves thought that history would be made. The Netherlands, a powerhouse in European Softball, a country that medals at almost every age grade tournament, a team that on average was 2 years older per player and having beaten Ireland earlier in the tournament, were hit early by the young Irish team as we jumped out to a 2:0 and then 3:1 lead. The Netherlands team were too good not to come back, and took control of the game to lead Ireland 5:3 after 5 innings.

This young Ireland team was not done and fought to wrestle back control of the game, scoring 2 runs in the top of the 6th inning and leveling the game at 5-5. However, the Dutch immediately hit back in the bottom of the 6th, scoring a run to reclaim the lead which left Ireland facing defeat with only the top of 7th inning left to play.

As was the nature of this epic game and this tournament, this young, brave and fearless team did not shy away from the challenge and forced in the equalizing run and then held the Dutch scoreless in the bottom of the 7th inning to force extra innings.

Onto extra innings we go!

The game reached new levels of excitement and stress as Ireland struck first in the top of the 8th inning to score a crucial run putting Ireland ahead 7:6, leaving the Dutch needing to score at least 1 run to keep the game going.

Webgem!

The Irish team’s solid defense closed the door on a Dutch comeback with a breathtaking and ESPN Web Gem top 10 worthy diving catch by the Irish third base player on a bunt and two well-executed groundouts, bringing the Dutch comeback to an end, earning Ireland the victory, punching our ticket to the WBSC World Cup and starting celebrations that are still going!

Ireland Win, Ireland Win, Ireland Win!

Georgina Corrick throws five-inning perfect game in 7-0 win against Ireland

British ace Georgina Corrick threw a five-inning perfect game against Ireland, in her team’s 7-0 win against the host team of the Women’s Softball World Cup Group A. The right hander retired the 15 hitters she faced in the game, recording nine strikeouts.

A seven-run third inning was the difference for Great Britain, using six hits while also taking advantage of three mistakes, to score all the runs of the game. Katie Burge (2-for-2) hit a two-run triple and scored a run.

Ireland did provide the moment of the game as Niamh Dougherty threw out Sydney brown to keep the game time in the 3rd.

Great Britain moved to 3-0 and remain on top of the standings, securing at least the second place in the Opening Round. Tomorrow they will face a doubleheader against Botswana and USA. With this loss, Ireland is out of contention for a spot in the playoffs and next year’s finals.

Disappointing defeat: “It’s disappointing to lose any game, but always hurts a little more to lose to our close rivals Great Britain at home. We have shown that we are good enough to compete at this level, we just need to hit, our offence is not firing at the moment and we continue to work on making this better every day.”

Melanie Cunningham – Irish WNT Head Coach

Atmosphere tonight/Balbriggan: “The atmosphere was amazing in the venue tonight, the colour, the noise, the singing, it was like being at a football match in Lansdowne Road . We just wish we could have given the amazing fans more to cheer about. Irish sports fans are the best in the world and our fans this evening supported us to the end and are still singing as they leave the stadium in the rain. We are so grateful to the town of Balbriggan for embracing us as they have. We hope we can give them something to celebrate in our last 2 games.

Melanie Cunningham – Irish WNT Head Coach

Chinese Taipei offence too hot to handle for Ireland

An 11-hit performance by the Chinese Taipei lineup propelled the Asian team to their first win of the tournament, an 11-1, five-inning victory over hosts Ireland. Chia-Wen Shen hit a solo homer in the second inning while Chia-Yi Chen collected three RBIs in the game.

Hsia-Ai Ke got the ball for Chinese Taipei, and the young pitcher had a quality outing, tossing the five innings while giving up three hits and one run, with five strikeouts. It’s Ke’s first win of the tournament.

The Asian team put together a five-run rally in the second inning to secure the game, with multiple-hits evening by Yi-Ting Yang, Chia-Yi Chen and Chia-Wen Shen.

For Ireland, Jamison Brockenbrough produced the only run of the game in the bottom of the first, with a double to center field.

Disappointing day (two defeats): “It’s disappointing but we still have a lot of games to play. We have to get back up, get our heads back in it and get the energy up. We’re going to go back, get some dinner and rest, and get ready for tomorrow.

Nicole Franklin – Team Ireland

Bouncing back tomorrow: “We fought hard. These are all good teams, this is the World Cup. We have to expect good competition and just keep fighting.”

Nicole Franklin – Team Ireland

Atmosphere tonight/Balbriggan: “The atmosphere was awesome. All of the Ireland fans were great. Everyone is awesome and super welcoming. It’s really cool to have people who haven’t seen it before to come out and see the sport.”

Nicole Franklin – Team Ireland

Ireland drop game 2 to Australia as Kaia Parnaby tosses one-hitter to lead Australia to 4-0 win

World No. 8 Australia bounced back from their opening day loss with a 4-0 win against hosts Ireland to get their first win of the tournament. Kaia Parnaby pitched a 14-strikeout shutout, while Jade Wall homered for the Aussies.

We hung in there, we gritted our teeth, we got a few runs, my defence had my back. We were just playing our game today and did what the Aussie Spirit like to do.

Kaia Parnaby – Team Australia

The game went pretty well, I must say. It’s nice to get back out there. I’ve been under the weather, so to be able to be back out there with the girls after missing last year, it’s been nice to be back in the green and gold.

Kaia Parnaby – Team Australia

Georgia Hood produced the first run of the game with a sac fly to left field in the fourth, followed by a two-run double by Clare Warwick in the fifth. One inning later, Wall’s homer put the game 4-0.

What happened out there: “We started out strong, especially against a really strong team. Everyone looked good out on the field. We got a loss in one inning in our fielding, our pitching still showed up and was great but we got a little in our heads. Then, as soon as one mistake happens it kind of rolls on to the next but we brought it back. We just have to hit.” 

Hannah Monteleone Team Ireland

On bouncing back from this defeat (next game 18.30 v Chinese Taipei): “We just have to make sure that we keep our spirits up high so we can go on to the next game and try to win that to the best of our ability. We’re going to go back, eat, get out of our heads and enjoy our time together. Then come back and have fun because we play our best when we have fun.”

Hannah Monteleone Team Ireland

On the venue: “It’s awesome. We’re so proud of everyone. We’re so thankful for everyone who worked on this field because they were working day and night. They did an amazing job for us to pull this all off. 

Hannah Monteleone Team Ireland

Ireland take victory on opening day of home World Cup in Balbriggan

Great Britain beat Australia 2-0 in the opening game of the Women’s Softball World Cup Group A in Balbriggan, while defending champions USA beat Chinese Taipei 5-0 in the second, before Ireland were too good for Botswana winning 7-0 in the last game of the day.

An historic day as the first ever WBSC two-stage tournament got underway at Balbriggan All Weather Field in Fingal-Dublin, Ireland on Tuesday on the opening day of the XVII WBSC Softball World Cup Group A.

After an exciting build up, the teams also delivered with Great Britain beating Australia 2-0 in the opening game, followed by defending champions USA proving to be too good for Chinese Taipei 5-0 and Ireland beating Botswana 7-0 in the last game of the day. Prior to the Ireland v Botswana game Mayor of Fingal, Councillor Adrian Henchy, threw a celebrity pitch in front of an excited home crowd.

“Fingal is a county which is absolutely steeped in sport and we can now add softball to the mix,” he said beforehand. “We’re a young, diverse county and it’s important that we have second-to-none facilities. That’s hugely driven by the local authority, in partnership with the sports clubs We wish everybody well and, obviously being biased, I hope Ireland do very well. It sounds like they’re in a tough pool but in order to be the best, you have to beat the best!”

Councillor Henchy needn’t have been concerned about the opening night, as Ireland went on to run out 7-0 winners against Botswana to wrap up a momentous day in North Dublin.

“It felt great,” said Ireland’s Kailey O’Connor afterwards. “We were a little nervous at first but once we started getting the first pitch going, it felt normal, it felt like we were all clicking. We’ve all played together at some point and it felt like we were reunited again. “I wouldn’t say there’s extra pressure (of hosting). We were more excited than anything. We turned any pressure into excitement. It means a lot to us to play on our own field so it kind of gives us an extra boost that we don’t have playing at other places.”

Kailey O’Connor Ireland International

Fort Myers to partner on Junior High Performance Academy

Fastpitch Ireland is excited to announce Lee County, Florida (Fort Myers) as partner of the newly created Fastpitch Ireland Junior High Performance Programme. Lee County will also become partner of the Women’s Softball World Cup (Group A) to be held in Dublin in July 2023. Lee County (Fort Myers) has a strong relationship with both Irish Softball and European Softball providing World Class training facilities in south Florida. As part of the partnership with Lee County (Fort Myers) camps will be held in Fort Myers during the partnership and Fort Myers will support Fastpitch Ireland in creating opportunities for the academy players to gain valuable experience.

We are honoured, delighted and very excited that Lee County (Fort Myers) has agreed to become the first partner of our Junior High Performance Academy. Lee County (Fort Myers) share our vision that the future of Irish Softball is the creation of a world class, sustainable and competitive domestic pipe line of players. We look forward to working with Lee County (Fort Myers) to develop our home ground talent and to expose them to the world class facilities in Fort Myers in the near future.

Melanie Cunningham – Director of Fastpitch, Fastpitch Ireland

World Cup Tickets on Sale

Balbriggan, Co. Dublin – The excitement is building as ticket sales for the Women’s Softball World Cup (Group A) in Balbriggan, Co. Dublin go on sale. The tournament will feature some of the world’s best softball players, and promises to be a thrilling event for sports fans of all ages.

The tournament will take place from July 11th to July 15th at the purpose built Balbriggan Softball Complex in the shadows of Bremore Castle, and will feature Australia, Botswana, Chinese Taipei, Great Britain, USA and host nation Ireland. With a full week of 19 games, fans will have the opportunity to see their favorite teams compete in a variety of exciting matchups.

“We are thrilled to host the Women’s Softball World Cup (Group A) here in Balbriggan,” said tournament director Melaine Cunningham. “Softball is a great sport, and we can’t wait to showcase some of the world’s top players in front of a passionate home crowd.”

Tickets for the tournament are available now for purchase on through the tournament website, and will be priced affordably to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to attend.

“We want to make sure that as many people as possible can come out and enjoy this incredible event,” said Cunningham. “We’re confident that the combination of top-level softball and a fun, family-friendly atmosphere will make this a must-see event for sports fans in the Dublin area.”

In addition to the on-field action, the tournament will feature a range of activities for fans of all ages, including food and drink vendors, interactive games, and more.

So mark your calendars for July 11th to July 15th, and get ready to witness some of the world’s best softball players compete in the Women’s Softball World Cup (Group A) in Balbriggan, Co. Dublin. Tickets are on sale now and you won’t want to miss out on this unforgettable event! For full details on ticket pricing and to purchase your tickets – www.softballwcireland.ie

WBSC World Cup Schedule Announced

A total of 19 games will be played in Group A, which will take place in Ireland from 11-15 July, full details of the tournament are availablw on the official website: www.softballwcireland.ie.

Great Britain and Australia will have the honour of opening the XVII WBSC Women’s Softball World Cup following the confirmation of the game schedule for the Group Stage, set to be held in Fingal-Dublin, Ireland (Group A), Valencia, Spain (Group B), and Castions di Strada and Buttrio, Italy (Group C), in July. 

World No. 16 Great Britain will take on Australia, ranked ninth in the world, in the tournament opener in Group A at 11:00 (local time) on 11 July in Balbriggan, County Dublin in Ireland. Australia beat Great Britain 11-0 when they played in the last World Cup in 2018 and enter the WBSC Women’s Softball World Cup having finished fourth in The World Games, fifth at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and fourth at the 2018 World Cup.

World champions and world No. 1 USA will feature in the second game, with the Tokyo 2020 Olympic silver medallists taking on world No. 3 Chinese Taipei before hosts Ireland (No. 17) launch its campaign as it play Botswana (No. 43) at 18:30.

With the dates now confirmed, tickets for the World Cup will go on sale for Group A from the first week in May.

Women’s Softball World Cup Group Playoff format confirmed

The Playoff format for Super Saturday of the Women’s Softball World Cup (Group A) which will be played in Balbriggan, Co. Dublin between July 11 – July 15, 2023 has been confirmed.

Women’s Softball World Cup (Group A) – Balbriggan, Co. Dublin

The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) confirmed the competition format of the Two-Stage Softball World Cups, the new tournament system unveiled two years ago. The system will be used for the WBSC Women’s Softball World Cup, the WBSC Men’s Softball World Cup and the WBSC U-18 Women’s Softball World Cup.

The first event to be held under this new system is the XVII WBSC Women’s Softball World Cup this year, which will play the Group Stage in Europe from 11 to 26 July in Fingal-Dublin, Ireland (Group A); Valencia, Spain (Group B); and Castions di Strada and Buttrio, Italy (Group C). The finals will be staged in Italy in the summer of 2024.

Under the new two-stage format, the World Cups are played over two consecutive years, with the Group Stage the first year with the Finals following the year after.

Two-Stage Softball World Cups: Group Stage Competition Format

  • 18 teams feature in the Group Stage spread across three groups
  • The top two teams from each group in the Group Stage advance to the Finals
  • Each group in the Group Stage will start with a single round robin.
  • The best four teams from the round robin will advance to play-offs where the top two sides play each other with a ticket to the Finals at stake.
  • The loser of the first play-off game will then play against the third v fourth winner for the second spot in the Finals

About – The Women’s Softball World Cup is being hosted at a 2,500 seater temporary stadium in Balbriggan Co. Dublin between July 11 – July 15, 2023. The tournament is being jointly hosted by Softball Ireland (Fastpitch) and Fingal County Council – for all media/sponsoship queries please email: softballwcireland@gmail.com