The Confederation of European Baseball’s most eastern member has elected a new federation president, Goga Datunashvili. Although a little bit of a mystery even among European baseball fans, Georgia has been a member of CEB since only a few months after it became independent from the USSR. Since then, it has regularly participated in senior tournaments and is due to compete again this summer. Over the winter, the Georgian Baseball and Softball National Federation has been particularly active, hosting camps, youth sessions, and even appearing on television [link].
Elections were held on Feb. 14th and the Congress elected eight positions at the meeting. Former Secretary General and Vice-President Goga Datunashvili (pictured below) became the new President, and will lead the Federation for the next four years. Former President David Khrikadze was named Honorary President. The other positions named are as follows:
First Vice-President: Ben Graubard
Vice-President: Levan Charelishvili
Vice-President: Otar Tavkhelishvili
Secretary General: Sophie Khidasheli
Executive Board Members: Andrew Thornhill and Dr. Nugzar Rukhadze
Charelishvili and Tavkhelishvili are former baseball players, while Khidasheli played softball on the National Team. She is the District Administrator of Little League. Graubard and Thornhill are businessmen, while Rukhadze is a famous journalist in the Caucasus and a professor at International Black Sea University in Tbilisi.
In its last tournament appearance, Georgia finished third in the 2018 European Championship C-Pool in Kropyvnytski, beating Hungary 16-9 and Estonia 12-3 to atone for close losses in the 2016 third-tier qualifier. It fell to both Ukraine and Romania, with the latter avenging a surprising 9-6 victory in the tourney’s previous edition. In the 2016 , the Caucasian country finished 1-3, but scored 24 runs while allowing only 30. Between the two tournaments, Georgian squads hit an even .300 with a .409 on-base percentage.
In between those two competitions, Georgia sent a squad with an average age of 19 to the 2017 Under-23 European Championship. Although Georgia lost each of its six games, it did so against teams loaded with U.S. university players, while featuring players aged 15 and 16, plus a pair of 17-year-olds. It also continued to show Georgia’s excellent discipline at the plate. The squad’s top player, Giorgi Jalabadze, earned a mention in Extra Innings’ piece on the event: “Outstanding Hitting Performances” [link]. Now 27, Jalabadze has appeared in five tournaments since 2011.
In the newly reorganised scheme of qualification for the Baseball Euros, Georgia was placed in European Championship Qualifier B. The event will be hosted from either June 28 or 29 in Utena, Lithuania. Other teams competing include the host, Greece, Poland, and Romania. It will mark Georgia’s first appearance above the now-defunct C-Pool.
Editor’s Note: A few weeks later during U.S. Women’s History Month, Little League profiled Khidasheli, who made history in Georgia as the first female elected Secretary General by the Georgian federation [link].
Article based on press release by the GBSNF [link], from which photos were used. European Championship graphic courtesy CEB.
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