Italy defeated Great Britain on the final day to win the 2019 Softball European/African Qualifier. By winning, the nation qualified to the Olympics. In total, six European and two African teams competed in two groups with the top two advancing to the super round. The Softball European/African Qualifier was held in Utrecht, Netherlands from July 23rd to July 27th 2019.
Group A saw the mercy rule being used as both Great Britain and the Netherlands defeated South Africa and Spain in blowouts, allowing the two nation to advance to the super round. The final group match between the two nations however, saw an upset as the continental powerhouse Netherlands lost to Great Britain 5-2. Spain finished third by defeating South Africa 5-0
Defending European champion Italy won Group B by defeating Botswana (7-0 in 5 innings), the Czech Republic (2-0) and France (5-1). Also advancing to the super round was the Czech Republic who defeated France (6-1) and Botswana (12-0 in 4 innings). France finished third by defeating Botswana 11-2 in five innings.
Results from the group stage carried over to the super round. The first set of matches saw Great Britain score three runs over the first five innings against the Czech Republic. The Czechs had made their first mark during the sixth inning by scoring two runs, but Great Britain countered with a single run and then blanked the Czech Republic during the seventh to win the game 4-2. The other match had an explosive start where the Netherlands opened with four runs to Italy’s one. Italy would however counter in the second inning with four runs of their own. Another two runs by Italy in the third was all that was scored for the remainder of the match as the nation won 7-4.
The match between Italy and Great Britain effectively became the match for a berth at the Olympics. Italy prevented Great Britain from scoring any runs as they won 5-0 to go undefeated and win the Olympic quota. Third place went to the Netherlands as the defeated the Czech Republic 7-0 in five innings.
This will be Italy’s third appearance in this event as softball returns after being absent for the 2012 and 2016 Olympics. This was the final opportunity for European and African nations to qualify in women’s softball. The next qualification tournament to be held in this event will be the Americas qualifier beginning in August.