The data collection and tabulation process for the European Softball Federation (ESF) Rankings did not change in the 2018 season. The rankings are based solely on European Championship performances. Women’s softball last had a tournament in 2017 while men’s softball held their tournament in 2018.
In 2017 there were no surprises when it came to the final two teams standing at the European Championship. Italy and The Netherlands have shared the titles throughout the entire 20-year history of the tournament. In 2017, it was Dutch who hoisted the cup once again.
It would not be enough, however, to overcome Italy’s total score. Relying on the next generation to get the job done, Italy’s U-national team placed #3 in 2017 and #1 in 2018’s tournaments while The Netherlands took 1st in 2017. This past Championship Italy took the Cup while The Netherlands finished 4th. This dropped the Dutch total points just enough for Italy to remain in the top spot.
Top 10 ESF Women’s Softball Rankings for 2018:
#2 The Netherlands
#3 The Czech Republic
#4 Great Britain
While Italy stands on top in Europe, The Netherlands hop two spots to overtake the Czech Republic at #2. The Czechs take the #3 slot, previously occupied by Great Britain.
Russia, Germany and Spain stay put filling in the #5, 6, 7 spots respectively. That makes four years running for Germany and Spain without movement from either. They have never left their starting position since the rankings’ inception in 2015.
France and Greece flip flop sending France up to #8 and leaving Greece to slip a spot to #9. Rounding out the top 10 in their same position as 2017 is Austria.
#12 Great Britain
#15 Czech Republic
Italy does move in the ranking on the WBSC scale, hopping three spots from #12. The Netherlands and Czech Republic each drop two positions while Great Britain gains by the same amount. Austria, ranked #15 in 2017, drops to #24. That is to be expected as the national team was comprised of very young players throughout the 2017 season. That leaves Greece, ranked #21, to round out the top 5 European teams in the WBSC rankings.
This year’s European Championship title belonged to the Czech Republic. That helped the team remain where they have been since rankings began, solidly seated in the top spot. Though the Netherlands took second in the tournament, it was not enough to unseat Denmark who finished in 3rd.
Top 10 ESF Men’s Softball Rankings for 2018:
#1 Czech Republic
#3 The Netherlands
#4 Great Britain
#10 Slovakia (new)
While the top three spots remain unchanged the rest of the lineup is deeply entangled in a game of leapfrog. Great Britain took the #4 spot after tying for #5 in 2017 with Belgium, who dropped to #6. That left Israel to take the #5 spot after tying The Netherlands for #3 in 2017’s rankings.
In the bottom half of the pileup we have a few additional shifts along with a newcomer. Croatia remains at #7 while Germany moves up from tied at #9 with Sweden in 2017 to tied at #8 with Italy in 2018. That leaves Slovakia, making their first appearance in the history of the rankings, to premiere in the top 10, tied with Sweden for the final slot.
What’s more, the field for the men has greatly increased. At its inception in 2016, there were only 8 teams. That grew to 11 in 2017 and, in 2018, there were 13 teams ranked by the European Softball Federation.
It comes as no surprise that the Czech Republic and Denmark top the ESF rankings as well as the list of Europeans on the WBSC rankings. Both teams have been ranked by the ESF, in the very spots they sit today, since 2016.
Based on their performances at Worlds in 2017 however, the numbers have shifted a bit for their WBSC rankings. Coming off a strong showing amongst Europeans in the WBSC Men’s Softball World Championship in 2017, the Czech Republic gain a spot in the rankings as reward.
#7 Czech Republic
#14 Great Britain
#19 The Netherlands
The Czech Republic moved up a spot from #8 while Denmark jumped two places. Great Britain dropped four spots and The Netherlands lost three. Israel was the only team to neither lose nor gain year-over-year.