Czech Wins Big
At the 15th Men's World Softball Championship in Whitehorse, Canada there were very few surprises. Every team left the tournament nearly perfectly aligned with their rankings heading into the event. The only teams that did some placement hopping were Botswana (#19) who finished in 8th place and South Africa (#14) who finished in 10th. This is not surprising considering six of the teams currently ranked between the #9-#18 spots were not in the tournament.
The championship game was an Oceania match up between New Zealand and Australia for bragging rights. New Zealand, who came into the tournament in the top spot left the same way. They took home their 7th World Championship title. Australia (#5) took home the silver medal and the Canadians (#4), with the hometown advantage, went home with the bronze.The top five teams did minimal shifting with Australia making the best leap and Japan (#2), who finished 5th, sliding farthest.
For Europe the Czech Republic (#8), Denmark (#13), Great Britain (#10) and Turkey (unranked) all took part in the tournament. It was Turkey's first-ever international competition so, not surprisingly, they finished in last place having lost all their games. Great Britain had the best ranking heading into the tournament but lost to both the Czech Republic and Denmark in the initial round of play. The Czech Republic were 2-0 in their games against Denmark and 4-0 against European teams. In the placement rounds they went 3-0, once again beating Denmark as well as South Africa and taking a W on the forfeit from the Dominican Republic who had travel conflicts.
Denmark's Lukas Lohmann finished the tournament ranked 5th in batting with a .667 average over 3 plate appearances. He had 2 hits, including a homerun, and 4 RBIs. Great Britain's star slugger was Amit Aswani who hit .333 in 9 at bats. Turkey's top batter was Oguz Ates who, in 9 chances had 2 hits and an RBI for a .222 average. It was Vaclav Svoboda of the Czech Republic however that had the best average/at bats of the European teams. Over his 27 chances in the box he had 10 hits, including 2 doubles and 2 homeruns, with 4 runs and 11 RBIs for a .370 tournament average. Eight of his teammates joined him with averages topping .300 in the Championship, only one of whom had less than 9 at bats. Between them they hit a total of 20 extra base hits. Most were homeruns. The top 9 batters combined for 13 dingers while hitting just 4 doubles and 3 triples besides.
On the mound again it was Denmark who topped the charts for the EU. Vlademar Terkelsen, who posted a 1.47 ERA, had 2 wins and a save over 6 appearances. In 14.1 innings he gave up 3 earned runs while walking 9. Vlademar also struck out 21. A solid performance, no doubt, but it was the Czech Republic's Michal Holobradek who posted the most impressive EU pitching stats. Holobradek pitched two complete games, winning both, while maintaining a 2.63 ERA. One of those games was also a shutout. Throughout the tournament he made 7 appearances and started 3 games. Over 26.2 innings he gave up just 10 earned runs, striking out 35 while giving up just 6 walks. There were not clear tops in terms of fielding for the tournament but Denmark's Anders Jorgensen posted a 1.000 fielding percentage, putting out 59 and assisting with the catch on the last one all while committing no errors.
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