Baseball in Africa is expanding as eight new nations on the continent are expected to debut in the update of the WBSC World Rankings
The South African National Baseball Team won the African Championship and will advance to the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Europe-Africa Baseball 2019 Qualifying Event for the Games of the XXXII Olympiad Tokyo 2020, which will be held in Parma and Bologna, Italy, from 18 to 22 September.
South Africa will enter the six-team Olympic qualifier in Italy as the No. 6 seed, with the five other National Teams coming out of the WBSC European Baseball Championship, to be staged in Bonn and Solingen, Germany, from 7 to 15 September.
“Congratulations to the South African players and federation, who demonstrated once again that they are the best on the continent,” said WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari. “Let me also congratulate the entire African baseball community. This African qualifier help spread baseball in Ghana and Kenya. We believe a lot in Africa’s potential and we will keep investing in development there. I have great confidence in our disciplines as well as Baseball5, our new street version the game, in attracting more youth and fans to our sport.”
The road the to the continental title and qualification process involved nine national teams in Africa, divided into three zones: East (Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya), West (Burkina Faso, Nigeria and Tanzania) and South (South Africa, Zimbabwe and Lesotho).
South Africa was the National Team to beat and showed it on the field. At the African Championship, Baseball Africa Cup, they outscored Uganda, Burkina Faso and Zimbabwe 52-4 in round robin play and went on to win the semi-final against Burkina Faso, 16-1, and the final against Uganda, 28-0. South Africa’s catcher Kyle Botha earned MVP honours.
South Africa, 23rd in the current WBSC Baseball World Rankings, is the only nation on the African continent to have ever advanced to a Baseball World Cup. South Africa is also the only African baseball programme featured in the WBSC rankings; however, all nations participating in the qualification process are expected to be awarded points and enter the world rankings.
Marc Moreau, the President of the South African Baseball Union (SABU), said: “South African Baseball is self-funded and has very active baseball activities covering all age groups, from U-8, with peewee baseball, right through to adult baseball.”
“The activities” continued Moreau “cover general coaching, specialized coaching for our elite players and very competitive league structures at all age groups and a national baseball championship.”
South Africa’s head coach Neil Adonis added: “Our exposure to world baseball is increasing and our active investment in ensuring our players in all age groups is exposed to international baseball is ongoing. We are determined to improve our world ranking and increase the interest in baseball within our country and in Africa.”
Road to Tokyo 2020
The Tokyo 2020 qualifier in Parma and Bologna will be played according to the single round robin format. The winner will advance to the baseball tournament of the Tokyo 2020 Games, while the runner up will earn a spot in the final Baseball Qualifier, to be played in Taipei City in April 2020.
Africa Cup-Final Standings:
- South Africa
- Burkina Faso