Postcards From Austria
We’ll be highlighting our host nations as we travel around this great big continent we like to call home. This weekend we’re guests of the Austrian Baseball (ABL) & Softball (ASL) Federation.
The Austrian Baseball League (ABL) is six weeks into season with the Metrostars and Cubs locked in a tie for first in the East and the 2016 league champion Athletics holding a firm lead in the West.
The league has two very young, new pitchers this season. 16-year olds Christoph Vanas (Wanderers) and Nicholas Schadler (Metrostars) both started in the second week of season for their respective teams. Leading the league in strikeouts is Diving Duck Adenson Verastegul who has put away 57 on his own over 41.1 innings of play, contributing to his 1.09 ERA.
In batting Stock City Cubs pitcher Andrew Shenk is tops in the league. With 43 plate appearances over 10 games he is hitting .500 with 13 runs off 20 hits including 9 doubles. He’s walked 10 times and contributed 14 RBIs to the team’s stats. Those 20 hits and 9 doubles are top in the league per category as well. It’s Shenk’s teammate Quinn Tiernan who has the most runs in the league with 18 while Steven Johnson of the Athletics leads in RBIs with 18 and home runs with 3 to beat out Shenk for top rank for total bases by 1. Indian Anthony Lopez holds the stolen base title at the moment with 8 successes in 9 attempts.
Tops across the league in batting are the Cubs with a cumulative average of .317 while the Athletics lead in pitching with a combined 3.06 ERA.
That this league survives at all is an impressive feat, and a testament to the game they love, considering that, in total, the teams have 5,158km of distance to cover between them on an average weekend.
Not only do these teams play one another in their own divisions but they have interleague play mixed into their season. Vienna hosted the first round of action in the 3rd week of the season with the Metrostars, Wanderers, Athletics and Hard Bulls participating. Of the group, only the Wanders do not currently hold a #1 or #2 spot in the division, a testament to the benefits of expanded action throughout the season.
New to the league this season are the Kufstein Vikings. They have just one win so far but have remained competitive throughout. They had one heck of a batting practice game against the Grasshoppers, losing 16-17 in week 5.
The Cardinals are off to a rough start this season. Their bats are cold and their team’s best pitcher has an ERA close to 6. Add to that the 31 errors on the field and it seems clear why they have 5 mercy rule losses. The numbers however show that there is hope. They show patience at the plate as a team. They have more walks, 95, than strikeouts, 85. They’re pitchers have walked only 37 batters while striking out 97 and 10 of their fielders have a .900 or better fielding percentage. With some minor adjustments in each area, this team could see some quick turnaround.
In July the national team will participate in the A-Pool qualifiers in Belgrade. All this weekend the extended squad of newly designated teammates get some practice time in together at the FinkstonballXX Tournament. This will be coach Sakanashi’s first opportunity to watch the team compete.
The Sharx sit alone atop this six-team league with the Wanderers and Chicklets rounding out the top half. The M-Stars lead the league in batting average with a cumulative .346 with only 18 strikeouts across their board.
Perhaps living up to their name, it’s the Crazy Chicklets who are making a go of it around the bags. They are already 19-22 in stolen base attempts just three weeks into the season. We’d call that crazy in a good way!
The top three batters in the league come from the M-Stars bench. Lindsey Thomas (.857), Nicole Thomas (.714) and Klyomi Vinzenz (.600) are all representing their city. Vinzenz shares the #3 spot with Pee Wee Stephanie Haller.
The Wanderers have the best ERA in the league with a cumulative 2.31 but it is the Witches’ bullpen that has cast a spell on batters. They have struck out 49. The next two closest teams are tied at 29 strikeouts apiece. On the mound it’s the Witches’ Martina Lackner who has the strongest numbers. She’s pitched 20 innings in 5 games walking just 4 batters while striking out 35. That makes her responsible for 71% of team’s cumulative strikeouts.
The Junior national team will participate in the Finkstonball XX tournament as a warm up to their international competition schedule later in the season.
Both softball and baseball will participate in the Finkstonball XX Tournament. Hosted by the Attnang-Puchheim Athletics at the Spitzberg Stadium the games are more than just a tournament. There will be food trucks and open-air concerts as part of the Pentecostal Spectacle.
Local bands Wham Bam Bodyslam and The Kawenz Men are slated to perform before the Vienna comedy duo of Christoph & Lollo make a tour stop to perform for the homeland crowd.
The tournament opens this evening with a matchup between the host team and their national team.