After 269 games, the new ESSL team, the Bad News Bombers (USA), won the ESSL league championships as well as the Super Cup title 2015. This season the teams played in five tournaments around Europe, with events taking place in Germany, Switzerland, Slovenia and Austria. For every team it was a tough season, traveling around Europe from May to September, but everyone enjoyed it while seeing all the great places in Europe. ESSL League The Bad News Bombers (BNB) had a great start at the first ESSL tournament (Germany) by hitting 47 home runs. This team was hot at every game. For the entire tournament they scored 162 runs, had 151 hits, and their opponents were only able to score eight runs against them. For most of the teams, it was a steep learning curve, and it looked like as if BNB would dominate the entire league. But soon the other teams were able to catch up with BNB. In Ljubljana, the ranking was still the same, but the next tournament, played in Switzerland, was full of surprises. In the finals the Guzzlers forced BNB to an additional game. They were even close to wining the whole tournament. But with their experience, BNB managed to win it again. However, the big surprise was the new ESSL team, Toros, from Switzerland, which finished the tournament in third place. In Austria, Los Coyotes were close to winning their first ESSL tournament. After winning the first final game against BNB, they were only one out away from taking the whole tournament. But again, it was BNB that had the better outcome. The Bad News Bombers won every tournament of the ESSL season. Second went to the last year’s champions, the Guzzlers. ESSL Super Cup In order to introduce the game of slowpitch to other countries in Europe, a new competition was established in 2015 – the ESSL Super Cup. For this event, the ESSL teams were joined by a wild card team outside of the league. This year the Chocolate City Eagles from the Netherlands were invited to participate in the event. The Bad News Bombers won every game and showed they were the team to beat. But not all games proved to be a clear decision. For instance, in the semi-finals BNB won against Los Coyotes by only one run, 12-11. After Los Coyotes won against the Guzzlers Europe, 7-5, both teams faced each other again in the finals. At the beginning, it was another close race between those two teams. However, in the semi-finals BNB shifted into a higher gear and scored several runs to end the game, 16-6, in the fifth inning. The Guzzlers had some ups and downs at this tournament. Unfortunately, at the key moments they were not able to get into a good hitting rhythm. The two close losses in the double elimination against Los Coyotes, 9-7 and 7-5, knocked them out of the race for the Super Cup title of 2015. The Dream Team from Slovenia had a very good tournament and played their role as an underdog very well. But the 13-7 loss to the Guzzlers in the double elimination prevented them from achieving a big surprise. This very young team has great potential and everybody has to watch out for them next season. A good example of their talent is that two players, Patric Puntar and Gaspar Narobe, are eligible to sign baseball contracts with a major league organization for the 2016-17 season. For all of the teams, the Chocolate City Eagles from the Netherlands, representing Aruba, were a big unknown factor. The team that received a wild-card spot had some trouble at the beginning, because the players needed some time to adapt their game to this level of play. But, as soon as they had their first double-elimination game, they seemed to be ready. With the win against Los Titanes, 6-5, they were in the race to earn fifth place or even better in their first international tournament. However, after losing against the Guzzlers 20-6, and the game for the fifth spot against PGS, 16-5, they finished in sixth. For this new team it was a tournament with a steep learning curve, especially as they had to play seven games in two days. PGS (Austria) was able to step up at this tournament by finishing in fifth place. They had a chance to climb up the ranking even higher but were stopped by the Dream Team, 14-10. The Toros (Switzerland) and the Titanes (Austria) didn’t have their best players on the field and were not able to show their full strength. At the end the Toros ranked seventh and the Titanes eighth. Teams not only win titles, but also players. For this tournament Stanley Cruz from the Guzzlers won the batting title (.778) and Drew Chesser from the Bombers earned the pitching title. Final Rankings Super Cup:1. Bad News Bombers (USA); 2. Los Coyotes (Austria); 3. Guzzlers (USA); 4. Dream Team (Slovenia); 5. PGS (Austria); 6. Chocolate City Eagles (Netherlands); 7. Toros (Switzerland); 8. Los Titanes (Austria). Conclusion & Outlook With the season having concluded, we had great games, emotions and teams that had a lot fun. The ESSL was also honored by the visit of the mayor of Linz, Klaus Luger, who threw the first pitch at the Super Cup. The second season was a big step forward for the ESSL, especially since Switzerland joined the league as a new country and the Netherlands acquired a taste of slowpitch at that level. For next year, an adapted concept based on divisions will allow more teams from different countries to join the ESSL. In country-specific divisions, they can participate in games of the Major Division due to wild card spots and can qualify for the ESSL finals. For 2016, there is already an Austrian, Suisse and Netherlands Division planned. The Major Division is similar to the current ESSL league where all teams play at all ESSL tournaments in the different countries. Like this year, teams are able to win a league as well as a Super Cup championship title. ESSL Champions: 2015 Bad News Bombers (USA); 2014 Guzzlers Europe (USA); ESSL Super Cup Champion: 2015 Bad News Bombers (USA); ESSL Stats 2015: Best Hitter: William Mueller, Bad News Bombers (USA); Best Pitcher: Julio Cesar Matias, Los Coyotes (Austria); Home Run Champion: Jason Parker, Bad News Bombers (USA); Best Rookie (U21): Ramon Vasquez, Los Coyotes (Austria). For all stats see www.softballeurope.com/stats/.
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