In our series, ‘Showcase your Sport’, in association with the Federation of Irish Sport, we will be giving you a thorough insight into some of the most fascinating sports we have in Ireland.
This week our focus is on Softball and answering our questions is Colum, Lavery, the President of Softball Ireland.
When did you first get involved with Softball?
I started playing Softball about 20 years ago with my original team Shutout 7 who played in Scholarstown before joining my current club Marlay.
What drew you to the sport?
A friend of mine suggested I may like it as an enjoyable summer sport. He sold it to me as a fun co-ed sport with a great social scene and some enjoyable weekends away. He wasn’t wrong! And I was lucky enough to meet my now wife at one of the weekend tournaments.
How would you describe the sport?
I would describe softball as a sport for all. There is a place in our sport for all ages, shapes, sizes, and abilities. The sport ranges from recreational to competitive to international depending on what level you wish to play.
Irish people would find Softball to be similar to rounders, however, Softball requires more team strategy with lots more happening on the field at all times.
What are the basic rules?
Softball is a bat and ball game between two teams of 10 played usually for seven innings on a diamond shaped field. To score a run, a circuit of the four bases must be completed by a base runner. The central offensive action entails hitting a pitched ball with a metal bat and running the bases, the winner being the team scoring the most runs. Players can be got out by striking out (not hitting any of the pitches), being caught out once a ball has been hit or by being thrown out at a base.
How many clubs are there in Ireland?
There are 43 Slowpitch Softball teams and four fastpitch teams in Ireland. The teams are spread out across all four provinces and we have a club locator on our website.
Is there a national league?
Teams play in provincial leagues with winners qualifying for the national championships each year. The winner of our National Club Championships qualifies to represent Ireland in the European Club championships. We also run the Irish Open Softball Tournament in August which is a weekend event and includes international club teams (once they can travel again).
Do Irish teams compete internationally?
Yes! And very successfully.
Our co-ed Slowpitch team has won silver and bronze medals at multiple European Championships, including a bronze medal at the 2019 European Championships. The co-ed Slowpitch National Team is currently ranked 4th in Europe. The team would have been expected to be medal contenders in 2019 but the tournament was cancelled due to COVID. The team travels to London in September for the World Series event.
Our Women’s National Team (Fastpitch Softball) has also been successful in the last number of years. The team just missed out on qualifying for the final Olympic qualifier in 2019. Additionally, the U19 Womens Team won silver at the European Championships in 2018 and the U22 Womens Team won bronze at the 2018 European Championships. Ireland have also qualified for the 2016 World Cup and 2019 U19 World Cup. The Women’s Fastpitch National Team is currently ranked 9th in Europe and 18th in the World.
All this week in our #ShowcaseYourSport series, we are delving into the world of Softball.
— Pundit Arena (@PunditArena) June 28, 2021
What is your favourite aspect of your role?
I love working for our sport and the opportunity it gives you to meet with so many people who are also passionate about our sport. As President, you have the opportunity to try and improve what has been passed on to you and create pathways and opportunities for players of all ages to play the sport.
We will shortly be launching our Slowpitch development plan which hopefully will attract more adults to the sport. We have also successfully launched some youth softball in the last few weeks and hope to really make an impact with this over the next 12 months.
Ultimately, I love the sport, I love the people in the sport and I love introducing new people, young and old, to the sport.
Why should people try Softball?
People should try Softball as it is a safe (socially distanced), fun, co-ed TEAM sport that is easy to learn. If a player wants to be more competitive those options exist for them. Once you try softball you fall in love with the game and the softball community.
How can they get involved?