Botswana Softball Association (BSA) has confirmed that senior national teams (men & women) will embark on a series of international friendly games against South Africa as part of preparations for the Africa World Softball Championships qualifiers. The international friendlies are fully sanctioned by the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) and will take place on Friday the 30th of November until the 1st of December in Gaborone at the National Diamond.
BSA have a hectic schedule ahead in preparing the national teams for the 2019 world championships qualifiers. The weekend friendies will therefore be used as preparatory matches for both the teams to gauge and test their readiness for the Africa Qualifiers which will be held in Pretoria on 08-13th January 2019. The senior men’s team will be looking to qualify for the Senior Men’s World Championships games which are slated for Prague, Czech Republic in June 2019 while the junior ladies team will be hoping to qualify for the Junior Women’s World Championships.
The two countries will not be meeting for the first time as they were engaged in a couple of friendlies last year when they were preparing for the World Championships which were held in Japan earlier this year. However since the friendly is highly sanctioned by WBSC, Botswana will get the chance to earn some points and improve their rankings provided they perform well against South Africa. Both teams are considered as powerhouses of African softball as they are the only countries which represented the continent at the World Championships last year. Botswana women’s team is currently ranked 33rd in the world with 220 points while their opponents South Africa are just on 35th with 166 points.
In the mens rankings Botswana occupies position 13 which means they have gone one spot down as compared to the previous rankings where they were on position 12.South Africa is on spot number 12 with 926 points. The local boys lost the 12th spot to SA mainly due to failure to participate at the Under 19 World Championships where they could have earned some points which could have helped them to maintain their spot.
The Patriot on Sunday caught up with the team head coach Pako Maforaga who said preparations are already underway for the friendly. “The team started training together during this just ended week. So since our local league just started, we have given the players the task to work more on physical conditioning at club level. So far we have 28 call ups and we intend to end up with 19 players so we are still assessing them because we had to call in a number of new faces to address needs that we picked from our last national team games. Our biggest learning is the imbalance of our offence against defence. Previously we struggled to score runs so improvement is needed. We also need to be mobile on bases so more of our focus will be on attack such that we build confidence that we can win games with. Powerhouses out there win games through batting. We are also introducing new players to a high level competition,” said Maforaga.
Maforaga also added that the team is in good condition despite only one injury which was incurred by one of the players. “The players are looking good and ready so it’s just a matter of us trying out possible new combinations and then picking our final team soon. However we have an unfortunate incident in which one of the players was injured during training. Karabo Motsholathebe suffered a fracture on his left arm so at this point in time we can say he is the only player who is out of action,” he said.
For her part BSA spokesperson Kelebogile Seitei emphasised the need to improve the teams’ rankings. “Good results will earn us points on team rankings and will give our national team that much needed national level match practice. South Africa is bringing their full strong women’s team but for us we will be using a predominantly Under 19 team only augmented by the pitching department from the senior team. The reason behind this is because it is a brand new team and we need to give them time to gel together before the qualifiers,” she said.
Friday 30th November 2018
Botswana vs South Africa (Men) @1700hrs
South Africa vs Botswana (Women)@1900hrs
Saturday 1st December 2018
Botswana vs South Africa (Women)@0900hrs
South Africa vs Botswana (Men)@1245hrs
South Africa vs Botswana (Women) @ 1500hrs
Botswana vs South Africa (Men) @ 1730hrs