In the Players’ Words
There’s a newcomer to EU baseball and softball blogosphere. Netherland’s softball left handed pitcher Eva Voortman has been blogging about her softball career since she first appeared on the international stage. Now, she’s expanding the content to include players from across Europe and, hopefully, the world.
Eva Voortman plays softball for both Olympia Haarlem & the Dutch National Team.
How did you get involved in softball?
I was 9 years old and wanted to play soccer and basketball but it was all too complicated from where I lived. By accident we talked to some boy that played baseball and he said, ‘Yeah, just come try out.’ I went to a practice and then never quit. I went for two or three practices and then there was a girl’s team that played softball already so they put me on that team.
In 2012 and 2013 I played in Florida for a university team.
I made my national team debut here in Haarlem in 2014, at the World Championships but just as a pinch hitter/outfielder. I’ve always been a pitcher on the Jr. national team but I always wanted to hit so I needed to play outfield as well. In 2014, I knew I was not going to be good enough as a pitcher so I focused on pinch running and made the team sort of as the last person. It was my only chance otherwise I wouldn’t have been on the team. 2015, I played in the European Championships as a pitcher and outfielder but I made the team as a pitcher.
The 2015 season ended earlier than expected due to shoulder surgery on her non-throwing arm. When the season stopped her blog began. Last year, Voortman was back on the mound for the Worlds in Surrey.
On the season Voortman posted a .368 BA in 114 plate appearances with 42 hits and just 19 strikeouts while walking 13 times. On the mound she was 3rd in the league with an ERA of 1.61 and a 7-7 W/L record in 15 starts and 18 appearances. She walked just 38 while striking out 109 for a league batting average of .221 against her.
At the 2016 European Cup Winners Cup, where her team was crowned Champions, she posted a .406 BA in 32 plate appearances with 13 hits, 9 runs and 2 RBIs. That was good enough for 3rd place overall in the tournament placing 2nd in both runs scored and hits, 3rd in total bases and first in plate appearances for the event.
On the mound she also posted a 1.09 ERA and a 4-0 record against 120 batters striking out 39 and leaving the opposition with a measly .233 BA against her. On the leader boards she was tops in strikeouts, games played and games started.
Why a Blog?
When I started it I wanted to show people what it takes to be a softball player. What are the good things about it what are the bad things, the things you don’t see.
It started right before the playoffs in 2015 and then, the last game of the playoffs, I was injured and had to have shoulder surgery on my non-pitching arm. I chose to keep the blog going, writing about the rehab experience.
After a year of writing about myself I found it a little bit boring, because I basically told everything about the show. I thought about this new idea, to show other people’s stories, because I wanted to promote softball in a different way and I’m interested in how it works all over the world. Players all have different stories.
Are you writing their profiles or editing?
It’s more editorial for me right now. I will write some blogs in between, like information about what we’re doing with the national team, but if it’s a girl’s blog it’s actually her blog.
They write their own piece. I check the grammar but leave it in their words. I like how it’s their story. I just make the player information card and Helena at the ESF sends me the details about the countries.
Helena Novotna, ESF Communications Director told baseballEBM “We're very excited for this partnership. One of the main goals of our communication effort has been to bring the softball nations closer together and that's exactly what this project supports. Eva is a very talented player, but more than that - she sees that softball needs promotion and has taken the steps herself to make our sport more visible and understandable for the general, and also the softball, public.”
How long do you think you’ll do the guest writing process?
Right now I focus on all the countries that participate in the Europeans so it should end right before Europeans. So during Europeans I’ll probably write about the tournament and I haven’t thought about what I want to do after. If this works out I might want to do it leading up to the world championship and ask all the world championships teams to write but that’s going to be more challenging. I would really like to do it at the worlds too because I think it’s different if you have different continents.
Is the English language difficult for finding people?
I think because they play softball, and a lot of softball asks for English knowledge, English for all of them is pretty good. It surprises me how good it really is.
What was your reason for choosing English?
I started it in Dutch in 2013 because I wanted to reach all the little kids and make it easily accessible in the Netherlands. I wasn’t an international player yet and so I was just focusing on the Netherlands.
Then I got the idea of a European blog and after the world championships, when I got more attention as an international player, I thought it might be nice to switch so more people could read it. I noticed all the young girls are pretty good in English here so I thought it would be fine to write it in English. My mom doesn’t like it though but…
What are your goals for the blog?
I hope people will see how many stories are out there and how much softball can give you. All the stories have brought people to different countries, different life experiences and I hope that it shows how much fun it is to play softball, not just as a game but also as a complete life experience.
It has brought me so much, playing on the team and developing myself, I hope it shows how many girls create their chances and how nice it is to be part of softball.
What’s been your most exceptional off the field experience that’s a direct result of softball?
My studies. I wanted to become a designer but now I’m studying sport so that’s a big one. I would mostly say my personality though. I used to be really, really shy and quiet. Now I’m happy and out there. Hopefully I’m inspiring people. It changed me a lot.
Voortman has only her thesis to hand in to receive her Bachelor’s degree in Human Movement Science. Next she will work toward a Masters in High performance coaching. She hopes to coach in the States or Netherlands or to work with top athletes. She says she’d prefer to be a softball pitching coach because it’s so specialized and she knows a lot about it.
I’ll be 27 years old in 2020. The national team has started a full time program so I’m looking forward to that, being able to practice every day. I’ve not set out a full plan because I’ve learned, with all the years and all the experience, that it doesn’t work out if you make a full plan because there are always different opportunities coming up.
My main dream is to play in Japan, professionally, before we go to the Olympics. I want to be the big pitcher for the Netherlands but I need to play in Japan or maybe the NPF (National Pro Fastball – USA) to reach that level. I heard you have to go to Australia or New Zealand to be picked up. I’ve been looking at Australian universities but it’s always very complicated.
2020 happens and you’re on the team, what are you most looking forward to experiencing?
I really like how it’s in Japan, which is like the biggest baseball/softball country, with the big stadium. I heard it was like 30,000 people. I really would like to feel how it is to play in that sort of atmosphere.
Anything you want the world to know?
That The Netherlands is coming.
Eva Voortman coaches a softball segment on Zappsport, a Dutch sports program for kids.