The hosts South Africa look like the National Team to beat in the Baseball Africa Cup, set to begin on Wednesday, 1 May, at the Boksburg City Stadium in Johannesburg.
Head coach Neil Adonis, who appeared in three games as South Africa’s designated hitter during the 2000 Sydney Olympics, can count on a roster with solid international experience.
Pitchers Jared Elario, very likely the number one starter, and Lloyd Stevens proved successful in the World Baseball Classic Qualifiers. Outfielder Rowan Ebersohn (Minnesota Twins) and pitcher Robert Lewis Walker (Cincinnati Reds) appeared in the American Minor Leagues.
South Africa is, in fact, the only Country from the Continent with World Cup experience.
Currently, South Africa is at number 23 of the WBSC World Rankings and is the lone African Nation amongst the 76 Countries ranked by the World Governing Body.
Uganda won the Zone East Qualifier to the Baseball Africa Cup outscoring Tanzania and Kenya 35-1. A fair part of Uganda’s success was based on home runs and Zone East leaders will have to test again their power in Boksburg.
Uganda’s Baseball programme is supported by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency.
Burkina Faso dominated the Zone West Qualifier to the Baseball Africa Cup with two clear wins against Nigeria, 13-3, and Ghana, 14-4.
The Baseball Africa Cup was originally meant to be a six-team tournament. After Kenya and Nigeria withdrew, the format was modified to a four-team competition.
Baseball Africa Cup: the schedule
WEDNESDAY 1 MAY
THURSDAY 2 MAY
14-South Africa-Burkina Faso
FRIDAY 3 MAY
SATURDAY 4 MAY
10-Number 1 seed-number 4 seed semifinal 1
14-Number 2 seed-number 3 seed semifinal 2
SUNDAY 5 MAY (home team determined by draw
13- winner semifinal 1-winner semifinal 2 final
13- loser semifinal 1-loser semifinal 2 third place game
All game times are local-South Africa is in the same time zone as Central Europe
The winner of the Africa Cup will advance to the WBSC Baseball Europe-Africa Qualifying Event for the games of the XXXII Olympiad Tokyo 2020, to be played in Parma and Bologna, Italy, from 18 to 22 September.
note: this article has been amended after the National Teams of Kenya and Nigeria withdrew from the competition