It’s been a long time coming — mon dieu! But after last year’s suspended season, followed by several delays to the start of the 2021 campaign, France’s top-level (D1) baseball and softball teams finally have the green light to play, and will do just that starting this weekend.
The 11-team D1 baseball league begins Saturday (June 12) with a night game at Templiers Stadium in Lieusaint, south of Paris, where the Sénart Templiers host the Clermont-Ferrand Arvenes. The two teams will meet again the following day, when four other matchups, all of them double headers, will take place in different cities across the country.
Also in the greater Paris region, the Cougars of Montigny-le-Bretonneux welcome the defending champion Rouen Huskies on Sunday, and at Stade Pershing, right in the French capital, Paris UC takes on the visiting Stade Toulousain.
In addition, games will take place in La Rochelle, where the Boucaniers, winners of last summer’s French Summer League, host the Metz Cometz, and on the French Riviera, where Nice Cavigal hosts the Montpellier Barracudas.
One D1 squad, the Savigny Lions, have an off-week to begin the season. They’ll play their first games the following Sunday (June 20) in Rouen.
With the exception of the weekend of July 17/18 — which is reserved for any make-up games that may be necessary — D1 games will take place every Sunday until Aug. 22, when the regular phase of the campaign ends.
The league’s 11 teams are divided into two pools, and the top two teams in each will advance to a playoff round that has yet to be officially scheduled. The teams in each group are as follows:
La Rochelle Boucaniers
For the full D1 baseball schedule visit the website of the FFBS (the Fédération Française de Baseball et Softball).
Sunday is also Opening Day for the five-team women’s D1 softball league. Two matchups are scheduled, both of them double-headers, with start times at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
The defending champion Comanches of Saint-Raphaël travel to Évry-Courcouronnes, south of Paris, to take on the Pharaons, and the Grenoble Grizzlies host the Clapiers-Jacou Rabbits.
The league’s fifth team, the Pessac Panthers, have an off-week and don’t, in fact, play until Aug. 29, when the season resumes after a long pause. The third, fourth and final matchups of the regular season will take place on Sept. 5, 19 and 26 respectively.
A number of the players will also take the field later this month for the European Women’s Softball Championships, in Friuli di Venezia (Italy), starting June 27. The 17-team tournament runs through July 3.
In the first round, Team France will take on Ukraine (June 27), Spain (June 28) and Slovakia (June 29).
The national men’s softball team, coached by Anthony Cross of Montpellier, will compete in their own European Championships, beginning June 21 in Ledenice, in the Czech Republic.
The sqaud will first take on the Czechs (June 21), followed by games against Sweden (also on June 21), the Netherlands (June 22), Israel and Lithuania (June 23), Slovakia (June 24), and Croatia and Denmark (June 25).
A number of the players will have a chance to get a few warm-up swings starting this Saturday and Sunday (June 12/13), when the D1 men’s softball season begins, with all games taking place in just two locations: in Clapiers-Jacou, outside of Montpellier; and Pessac, in the outskirts of Bordeaux.
The eight-team league is divided into two groups. The defending champion Contes Cobras are in Pool A together with the Clapiers-Jacou Rabbits, Patriots Paris and Saint Raphaël Comanches. Pool B features the Rouen Huskies, Stade Toulousain, the Pessac/La Force Panthers and the Montpellier Barracudas, D1 champions in 2016, 2017, and 2018.
For the complete men’s D1 softball schedule, click here.
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