Softball Qualifier EventTeam Kingdom of the Netherlands closes training camp in Texas

22 May 2019

Via Texas to Tokyo. If it is up to the Dutch softball players, that is what will happen. Ten days ago, the national team traveled to Conroe, Texas, to prepare for a return to the Olympic Games through a training camp. In the American city, the Kingdom Team played six exhibition games in recent days against teams supplemented by professional players from Scrap Yard Fast Pitch. Today the selection returns back to the Netherlands.

Only twice before did the Dutch team participate in the Olympic Games. That happened during the very first official Olympic softball tournament in 1996 and again twelve years later in 2008. In that year in Beijing, pitcher Rebecca Soumeru and inland player Britt Vonk were already there.


Six (simulated) games were played in Texas.

Last Sunday, the two traveled with the national team to Texas in the hope of becoming the first Dutch players to have participated twice in the official Olympic softball tournament. With technical staff including Saskia Kosterink and Gonny Farley, as players also present during the Summer Games of 2008 and 1996 respectively.

For coach Connie Clark, the location of the last few days was familiar territory. Between 1995 and 2018, she was the manager of the softball team at the University of Texas in Austin for 23 seasons. With her team, Clark qualified five times for the College World Series. Britt Vonk also stayed at the Conroe complex before. She was one of the players of ScrapYard Dawgs for two seasons.

Games
The ten-day practice trip consisted largely of training sessions. At the start of the training camp, the internationals had the opportunity to hit pitcher Randi Rupp, one of the players of Cleveland Comets. This professional club comes out in the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF), which also hosted Scrapyard Dawgs in the 2016 and 2017 seasons. Scrapyard Dawgs was expelled from the NPF last year and now plays as an independent team under the name Scrap Yard Fast Pitch.

Four players from Scrap Yard Fast Pitch have also been in Conroe (Texas) in recent days to compete with various travel teams for the Dutch Kingdom Team, including teams from the Impact Gold Fastpitch Organization and the Bombers Fastpitch.


In Texas, 25 players were part of the training group.

In total, the Orange squad played six games in recent days. The first match won 15-6. After this, three more victories followed. The last game followed on Monday evening, after which the training camp was closed with a final training day yesterday. During the matches, adapted rules were used to practice different situations and tactics. The team stayed together in a large house on the complex.

New training internship
Today the Dutch Kingdom Team returns to the Netherlands. The regular competition in the Golden League will immediately resume there on Saturday. With, among other things, the games between Sparks Haarlem and Terrasvogels, two of the four teams from the top 4. A new training course is scheduled for next month. Then the national team prepares for the European Championship from Sunday 23 to Saturday 29 June.

The 21st edition of the European Championship will be held from 30 June to 6 July in the Czech town of Ostrava. The Kingdom Team defends its title that was recaptured two years ago in Italy. The top six teams of the European Championship qualify for the Olympic qualifying tournament. This Softball Qualifier Event will be held in Utrecht from 23 to 27 July. The entire month of July for Orange is dominated by the preparation for this important tournament.

Two teams are already certain of participating in the Softball Qualifier Event (Europe / Africa). These are Botswana and South Africa. Earlier this month, Botswana defeated South Africa in the final of the African qualifying tournament 8-1. With their final places, they qualified for the tournament in Utrecht. Uganda and Nigeria finished the tournament in South Africa in third and fourth place.

ABOUT THE TOURNAMENT

The top eight softball teams from the Europe-Africa region will travel to the Netherlands and compete at the Take Off to Tokyo in 2019. The tournament will be hosted in Utrecht from the 23rd to the 27th of July, and will showcase six European and two African countries as they battle it out on the softball field. Eight teams will compete, but only one team will earn their ticket to Tokyo.

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