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Fastpitch Softball Continues to Grow in Great Britain

January 27, 2020

London, UK -  -Fastpitch Softball Continues to Grow in Great Britain

Source: Pixabay

When we think on how popular baseball and softball are throughout North America, it’s often hard to imagine that the origins of these sports can be traced back to Great Britain. Indeed, the modern sports are believed to have evolved from earlier bat-and-ball games played in England during the 18th century, which were brought across the Atlantic by settlers during that period.

Played as early as the 15th century and originating in the county of Sussex, southern England, the game of stoolball is often regarded as a direct ancestor of cricket and baseball, both of which have become major international sports in the modern age. There are even historical references to a variant of stoolball known as “base-ball” in 1749, which included the Prince of Wales amongst the avid players of this game.

The modern sport of softball was first developed in the late 19th century, with the earliest known game taking place in Chicago, Illinois, on Thanksgiving Day at the Farragut Boat Club in 1887. Interestingly, the name of “softball” wasn’t actually coined until 1926 by Walter Hakanson of the YMCA at that year’s National Recreation Congress.

Still largely an amateur sport, softball is played recreationally and competitively by more than 15 million Americans each year. The fastpitch variant has become increasingly popular amongst women over recent decades, leading to the formation of the Women’s Pro Softball League (WPSL) and its successor, National Pro Fastpitch (NPF), which was established in 2004.

Although we can often wager on the outcome of professional baseball games, along with other leading North American sports at online betting venues such as Space Casino, including basketball, football and hockey; there’s still some way to go before softball and variants such as fastpitch reach the same level of exposure internationally.

Nevertheless, the International Softball Federation successfully lobbied for the sport to be restored to the Summer Olympics including at Tokyo 2020, where six women’s teams will compete for medals. The teams competing will be Japan as the host nation, United States as 2018 WBSC Softball World Champions, along with Italy, Mexico, Canada and Australia as champions of their respective continents.

While there’s no place at the Olympics for Britain this time, that hasn’t halted the growing popularity of the sport there. As the origin of bat-and-ball games which lead to the development of modern softball, the fastpitch variant is generating increased interest. The Great Britain Fastpitch League runs annual Men’s and Women’s tournaments, with the next due to be held at Farnham Park Baseball and Softball Complex, near Slough, through spring and summer 2020.

Registration is now open for the 2020 Great Britain Fastpitch League (GBFL) outdoor season!  Get your team signed up before 29 February

 British softball Federation (@Britishsoftball)


According to the British Softball Federation, while co-ed (mixed) games of the slowpitch format are most commonly played throughout the country, it’s the fastpitch variant which is enjoying the swiftest rise in terms of both popularity and the overall quality of their national teams. In 2019 the GB Men’s Fastpitch Team ranked 5th in Europe and 13th in the world, while the GB Women’s Fastpitch Team rose to an impressive 3rd in the European rankings and 14th in the world.

Belize and Chile are the latest countries to join the Women’s softball World Rankings while Belgium gained the most places.

This would indicate that in years to come, thanks to a vibrant community and passion for the sport throughout the country, Great Britain could potentially have a team competing at the Paris 2020 Summer Olympics, providing the IOC continues to support the inclusion of baseball and softball at the games. At present, that won't be decided until after the 2020 Olympics, although international organizations are hoping both events will continue to be represented and maybe even expanded.