by PONY, www.pony.org
Anticipating the largest field of competing teams in the 14-year history of the event, the SUMA PONY European Zone Championships begin tomorrow at Eagles Park in Prague, Czech Republic. Twenty teams each in the Pony 14U and Colt 16U age divisions will battle it out on the baseball diamond over four days to determine the PONY European Zone’s champions, who will receive automatic bids to the DICK’S Sporting Goods Pony World Series in Washington, Pennsylvania and the Colt World Series in Marion, Illinois. In Colt 16U girls softball, 16 teams representing seven European nations will duel for the Zone’s title with an automatic bid to the East Zone Girls Softball Nationals in Sterling, Virginia on the line. Highlighting the event is an appearance by Baltimore Orioles great and Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr., who will be holding an instructional clinic for participating players.
Pony 14U Baseball:
The seventh edition of the Pony 14U European Zone Baseball Championships may be the most competitive yet, as all six of the European Zone’s former champions are participating in the event. Last year’s champion, the Netherlands, has entered two teams. Its A team faces Prague, who finished fourth a year ago, in its first game and its B team begins its tournament run against France’s Bordeaux Academy, who won the Pony European Zone Qualifying Tournament in Gijon, Spain in September. 2016 and 2012-13 champion Paderborn, Germany is back after a year’s hiatus. The Germans will take on Kaunas, Lithuania, who finished in third-place in 2017, in their first game and end their slate of day one games Thursday against 2015 champion Vienna, Austria, who is hoping to improve on its sixth-place showing from a year ago. In Group B, keep an eye on the 2014 Zone champions from Brno, Czech Republic, who made it all the way to the championship game last year, but fell to the Dutch. The games begin at 8 a.m. local time Prague Thursday and continue through Sunday’s championship game.
Colt 16U Baseball:
All eyes are on the defending champions from the Netherlands, who have entered four teams into this year’s field, after winning not only the Colt European Zone title, but also the Colt World Series title in 2017. Standing in their way and looking to avenge a crushing loss in the championship game a year ago is France’s Bordeaux Academy, who finished as the finalist at the Colt European Zone Qualifying Tournament in Gijon, Spain in September. Three-time defending champion (2010, 2012 and 2016) Brno, Czech Republic headlines Group C, which also features the 2011 champions, the Stuttgart, Germany Reds. The two teams will square off Friday at Noon. But a cast of teams who did not participate in 2017 are vying to make their marks in Prague, including Catalonia, Spain; Israel and the Tigers of Balashikha and the Cardinals of Moscow, both of Russia. The games begin at 8 a.m. local time Prague Thursday and continue through Sunday’s championship game.
Colt 16U Girls Softball:
A highly competitive field of teams awaits the 11th edition of the Colt 16U Girls Softball European Zone Championships, which begin Friday. Headlining the field is Kalita of Russia, who went undefeated going into the 2017 championship game, before falling to the Czech Red Cats. After losing to Kalita 4-3 in the semifinals a year ago, PONY Ukraine is looking for a shot at redemption with two of its teams entered in the field. SK Horní SM of Czech Republic is another title contender, after finishing in third-place in 2017. Like their counterparts in baseball a year ago, will first-time entrant the Netherlands steal the show in softball? The games begin at 9 a.m. local time Prague Friday and continue through Sunday’s championship game.
You will be able to follow each baseball game pitch-by-pitch. Stay up-to-date with the tournament all weekend long at PONY.org and EUROPEAN.PONY.org. Follow PONY’s social media and also the event’s official Facebook page Suma Pony League for additional coverage.