DUBLIN — Baseball in Ireland is launching a U-18 National Team, as baseball’s steady growth continues in Europe and in emerging territories worldwide.

National governing body Baseball Ireland will be debuting the country’s top youth players this July at the CEB U-18 European Baseball Championship in Zurich, where Ireland has been grouped with Belgium, Poland, Russia and host Switzerland.

“We expect [the U-18 National Team] to help Ireland take the next step in developing into one of the top baseball playing countries in Europe,” said Baseball Ireland President Tom Kelley.

Baseball Ireland is currently No. 50 in the WBSC Baseball World Rankings and previously only featured a Men’s National Team.  With the addition of the youth National Team, Baseball Ireland opens up more opportunities to compete in international competition and climb the world rankings.

No. 9 Netherlands and No. 11 Italy are Europe’s top-ranked baseball nations, and will be competing at the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup 2017 in Thunder Bay, Canada.

To help finance the expanded Irish National Team programme, Baseball Ireland has partnered with The Baseball United Foundation.