What To Watch
While many leagues across Europe have concluded their seasons, four of the top leagues on the continent are just entering their championship series runs. The Czech Republic, France, Germany and The Netherlands are all working toward title awards in both their baseball and softball leagues.
In the Czech Republic both baseball and softball are in the playoff phases. The Republic has both men's and women's softball in the Extraliga so fans have a choice of three different championship runs to watch!
Baseball in the Czech Republic has a three-way playoff series taking place at the moment. Draci Brno, Arrows Ostrava and Kotlářka Praha are playing down before the championship series begins. At the moment Draci is in the lead with a 2-0 record. The Arrows are 1-2 and Praha is 0-1.
In men's softball the series is just entering the semi-final stages. Hroši Havlíčkův Brod and Žraloci Ledenice, the number three and four seats respectively, are gearing up to face the top two seats, Sprectra Praha and Tempo Praha, for a spot in the championship series. The teams face off, Spectra and Tempo against one another at one field, and Hroši and Žraloci at another, in a best of three series the last weekend in September.
On the women's side the playoffs also head into semi-final action in late September. The Snails Kunovice and Eagles Praha fought through the quarter finals. The Snails will meet up with SK Joudrs Praha, who finished the season in the top spot with a record of 27-2, while the Eagles take on Žraloci Ledenice who finished in 2nd with a 22-7 record. Like the men, these teams will play a best of three series.
The French baseball championship series began on September 23rd. The best of five series pins Senart Templier, who finished the season in second, against the top seeded, and defending champion, Rouen Huskies. After two, the teams are tied at a game apiece. Senart, who celebrate the clubs 30 year anniversary this season, would love nothing more to cap of the year than a cup for the trophy case. They finished the regular season with a record of 20-8. The Huskies left the regular season with a record of 26-2 and, no doubt would be happy to repeat themselves.
In softball the Toulon Comanches not only took home their 10th straight championship title, they did so with an undefeated record. They finished the season with a 20-0 record and remained undefeated throughout the entire playoff run. In the championship games this past weekend they faced the Grenoble Grizzlies. The Grizzlies had finished their season in 4th place and could not knock off the top seed in their title run. Not surprisingly, the Comanches won each game handily with margins of victory exceeding 5 runs in every game throughout the playoffs and championship.
The champ's undefeated record did not hold outside of France however. Nearly the entire national team lineup is comprised of Comanche players and their coach is the same. In the Women's European Championship this year they were unable to advance further than 10th place. The Comaches team itself took 8th out of 9 spots in the Women's European Premiere Cup as well. It seems French softball could well afford some parity if the national team is to get the experience they'll need to successfully compete on the international stage.
This year the Bundesliga decided to change their playoff format and, so far, we're big fans. Rather than extending their regular season into August, they opted for a month filled with interleague play. There are two divisions in German baseball and one has, traditionally, been better matched than the other. That often led the team coming out of the less diverse division with not much time to adjust to the level of play in playoff runs before being eliminated.
This year, the entire month of August the top four teams in each league played one another several times. These games, along with any they played against one another throughout the regular season, were then calculated to determine playoff seating. All eight teams participated in quarter finals and the elimination process began in early September. Now just two teams remain.
The Bonn Capitals, who have been the Northern Division Champions three seasons running now, will face off against Heidenheim Heidenköpfe who are this season's Southern Division Champions. This is the first season the Capitals have made it past the semi-final round in recent history. In fact, 1997 was the last Northern Division title they held before 2015. Heidenheim's only championship win took place in 2015 and it was the Capitals they eliminated on their path to victory.
The two teams face off for their third matchup this season over the weekend. During interleague play the had one weekend of games against each other and they split the series. Against other teams in the Southern Division however Bonn holds a record of 8-5 through the playoffs. Facing Northern Division teams Heidenheim is 6-2. The series opens September 30th in Bonn with all games broadcast by Legionaere TV.
Over on the softball calendar the playoffs are still in the first stages of playoff action with the top seven teams participating across divisions for the first time this season.
Starting the final weekend in September the top two baseball teams from the season will face off for a best of five series. After surviving the playoff elimination process L&D Amsterdam, who finished the season in 1st with a record of 29-6, will face Curaçao Neptunus who completed the year in 2nd place with a record of 26-9.
In softball the ladies of Haarlem are facing off against one another. Despite the city losing their baseball team this season, they managed to field two softball squads. The Olympia Haarlem and Sparks Haarlem are facing off in a best of five series that is already underway. Olympia leads the series 2-0.