WBSC Softball Rankings
The World Baseball and Softball Confederation (WBSC) have just released the first rankings for 2022 in men’s and women’s fastpitch softball.
Anyone who watched the Men’s Softball World Championship gold medal game in 2019 will not be surprised to learn that Japan and Argentina still occupy the #1 and #2 spots in the rankings. Rounding out the top five are Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
Two European teams did break the top 25% of men’s teams in the WBSC’s rankings. Each up a spot, in a field of 49 teams, both the Czech Republic (#6) and Denmark (#10) broke the top 10 worldwide.
The bigger news in the men’s game is that four of the top five climbers in the rankings were European countries. Slovakia and Sweden each jumped seven spots. Croatia hopped ahead by six, while Lithuania moved up by three.
Croatia landed in the 22nd spot. Making the largest jumps, Slovakia and Sweden hopped into the 28th and 33rd spaces respectively. Furthest down in the rankings, Lithuania leapt ahead three to 39th.
The Netherlands and Great Britain each fell a spot dropping to 17th and 19th respectively. Israel moved down one place, coming in at 23rd. Belgium, at 26th, fell two places. Germany and Italy each dropped by three, to 34th and 36th respectively.
France was the only European team that held even, sticking at 25th.
At the end of 2021, within Europe, The Czech Republic finished the season ranked 1st with Denmark 2nd and Croatia moving up to 3rd.
The Netherlands fell to 4th while Israel remained in 5th. France and Great Britain switching places for 6th and 7th. Slovakia jumped up to 8th with Belgium dropping down to 9th and Sweden held steady at 10th.
Germany, Italy and Lithuania all fell, in order, into the final three spots.
Final Standings of European Championship 2021
During the biggest ranking tournament in 2021, the European Championship, the Czech Republic took gold, defeating Denmark 4-2. Croatia had a strong showing in the tournament, finishing 5 and 4 to earn bronze, and their three and six spot jumps in both the European and national rankings. Despite their propensity to hit grand slams, The Netherlands continue to fall through the rankings as their team ages out and younger, recently-developed talent from traditionally smaller ball countries, like Slovakia, begin maturing.
The World Baseball and Softball Confederation ranked Japan, the United States and Canada in the top three spots with Europe’s first appearance just cracking the top 10.
Ranked first and second in Europe, Italy and The Netherlands fall 8th and 10th, respectively, worldwide. Italy’s ranking remained unchanged while the Dutch dropped a spot.
Of the 65 ranked teams in women’s softball worldwide, four countries from Europe broke the top 25%. Denmark, Slovakia and Sweden were all given top climber rankings. The Danish jumped up nine spots while both Slovakia and Sweden skipped ahead by eight.
The Czech Republic dropped two spots to 13th and Great Britain fell two to 15th, while Spain and France, each moved up a spot, to 19th and 20th respectively, to round out the top 20.
Israel glided up three spots to 22nd while Poland hopped one ahead to stay in the top 30 at 29th. Hungary and Lithuania each moved ahead by a spot in the rankings to 52nd and 53rd.
Ireland dropped three spots to 21st, Russia fell two to 24th. Croatia, down one, Austria, down three, and Greece, down 5, fall to 34th, 35th and 36th respectively.
The Ukraine fell even further, down six spots they are now ranked at 39th. Not far behind them both Belgium and Slovakia fell four spots to 42nd and 45th respectively. Turkey dropped more still, loosing seven spots and falling to 59th to tie with Pakistan, who moved up one to secure the tie. The biggest drop came from Sweden who, at 48th, fell 11 places. Switzerland, down just two spots, rounding out the top 50 in the final spot.
Germany at 23rd and Serbia at 62nd maintained status quo over their 2021 rankings.
The top three teams for Europe in the international rankings also finished, in the same order, across Europe’s rankings. In 2021 Italy, who won their 11th European Championship title and represented Europe in the Olympic Games, was ranked 1st. With 10 European Championships of their own, The Netherlands took 2nd and, falling into what is becoming their expected finish of bronze, was the Czech Republic in 3rd.
France, Spain and Germany took the next three spots, all raising into their respective positions, while Russia dropped to 7th. Israel Poland and Ukraine each moved up into 8th, 9th and 10th to round out the top rankings. Belgium was down to 15th and Switzerland down to 20th with Turkey and Serbia tied for last, at 24th across the continent.