In addition to hosting the Women’s Baseball World Cup for 2018, the United States Special Sports Association (USSSA) has agreed to bring their National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) team, USSSA Pride, to Europe for an exhibition series.
The USSSA European Pro Series is a joint project with the WBSC. The team will play exhibition games against several European national teams including the #1 and #2 ranked teams in the European Softball Federation, Italy and The Czech Republic.
On April 24th the team arrives in Caronno, Italy to face off against the Italian National team in a two-game, two-day series. Currently ranked 8th in the world, and 1st in Europe, this will be a big series for the continent.
The team will then travel to Prague where they’ll face off in two against the Czech national team. Currently ranked 2nd in Europe and 9th in the world, the teams face off on April 27 and 28th.
They’ll finish up their games against The Netherlands who are currently ranked 4th in Europe and 7th in the world. These games will be split with the first taking place in Haarlem on the 30th of April followed up on the 1st of May in Hoofddorp.
The final date of the tour has been set for May 4th in Boulouris, Côte d’ Azur, France, where the team will host a clinic at the Softball Academy.
This is a great opportunity for Europe’s top players to face off against some of the best players in the game. During international competitions, such as the Women’s Softball World Championship in 2016, Europe’s highest ranked teams don’t often find themselves placed in the same pools as teams from the USA, Canada and Japan. That means, most often, their first match-ups take place in high-pressure situations during the playoff rounds. That makes this is a truly unique experience. These games give Europe’s best players an opportunity to play against, and interact with, some of the top talent on the world stage.
The tour is an effort by the WBSC to promote women’s softball internationally and to help encourage the inclusion of baseball and softball in the 2024 Games in Paris. To do this, they believe it is imperative to raise awareness of the sport in France.