Israel's men finish seventh in European Softball Championship

Israel's national team finished a disappointing seventh place in the 8th European Men's Fastpitch Softball Championship in Beveren, Belgium last week. Israel finished with a record of 2-5, beating Slovakia 7-3, earning a forfeit win over Great Britain, who did not show up, and losing to the Czech Republic 11-0, Netherlands 12-0, Denmark 8-1, Belgium 9-0 and Croatia 6-1. Denmark finished in first place after the first round of play but lost to the Czech Republic 2-0 in the Grand Final. Netherlands finished third and hosts Belgium fourth. Israel's top hitter was Yigal Ben Israel who had four hits, batted .364 and stole two bases. Aviv Yaakov and Alberto Tacher each rapped three hits, including two doubles and Guy Bender also had three singles. Mike Doktofsky led the team with three RBI's, two on a big triple against Slovakia. Israel's defense was sloppy, making 20 errors in seven games and poor base running also hurt the team. The blue and white pitching was not quite at the level of the top European teams, but Yarone Ben Israel and Aaron Levarko, an immigrant from New Zealand making his National team debut, pitched well and up-and-coming young fireballer Aaron Kurtz showed promise in his one start, allowing only five hits to first place Denmark in five innings. The 23-year-old Kurtz, who walked eight in the game, has the potential to be a top pitcher in Europe, if he can iron out his control issues. Israel's top pitcher, Ami Baran, pitched in only one game due to injury.