A new year - a new challenge

A new year - a new challenge

Thoughts of last year’s success are now a distant memory, as Hamina’s women’s team prepare for new challenges in Superpesis.

 

Hamina’s 2022 season was a complete success, as the team dominated the women’s Ykköspesis and earned promotion to Superpesis. But as the team enters 2023, survival is the key aim for the club. The women’s team seemed almost unstoppable last year, but the thought of winning the Ykköspesis championship was incredible. Team Captain Linda Kemppainen reflected on the team’s achievement:

“It feels really good. You won't achieve that kind of things many times in your career, so it was pretty awesome and feels like we did deserve it.”

 

The time for celebration however was short, as the team prepared for a new challenge in Superpesis. Linda gave her thoughts on the goals for 2023:

“If we think of a real, concrete target for this season, it will be maintaining our place in Superpesis. That is a clear target. For the playing side, that we can play all summer in our own way. Play good games, challenge and win games. Certainly the hardest teams are Manse, Kirittäret, Virkiä and Pori. They are really good.”

 

The bottom half of the Women’s Superpesis is incredibly competitive and there are a lot of teams who could finish anywhere from 8th down to 12th. The latest teams to earn promotion to Superpesis have made a clear impact on the league and are building for a longer future in the top division. Roihuttaret and Vaasa joined Superpesis in 2021 and 2022 and finished 10th and 8th in their first seasons. Roihuttaret have a solid fan base and playing in Roihuvuori can be tough for visiting teams - 8 out of the team’s 11 Superpesis wins in the regular seasons have been at home (2021 and 2022 combined). Although Roihu’s defence can be inconsistent and their outfield is prone to allowing a high number of runs unexpectedly. The one thing Roihu isn’t short of is fighting spirit - the fans and team are very vocal and animated.

Vaasa made headlines in 2022 with Venla Tanhua being chosen as pitcher of the month in April, after several wins and close games against top teams. Vaasa’s great performance made them clear candidates for a playoff spot and eventually they achieved that goal. Vaasa’s ability to win tough games make them a serious opponent for Hamina and their hopes of staying in Superpesis.

 

Although Roihuttaret and Vaasa are clear rivals in Hamina’s quest to stay in Superpesis, both teams have lost their star pitchers coming into the 2023 season which will significantly impact on their chances. On 4th February Hamina played a practice game against Roihuttaret. The Orange shirts ultimately won the game and showed promise in key areas of their gameplay. Game manager Jussi Toikka commented:

“The defensive inning was really good, even though Linda Kemppainen wasn't playing. Still, the defensive inning remained on track and I need to be pleased for it. A couple of runs came easily for

Roihuttaret, but that's indoor-pesäpallo. It will not happen in summer. In terms of the offensive inning, we need to be more precise and not get too many pointless strikes, which we got today. We need to get rid of those.”

 

Preparations in Hamina have been going well and the team is confident of the progress they have made. The leap from Ykköspesis to Superpesis can be tough and that is certainly the case in Women’s Superpesis. The difference in playing ability between the top 4 or 5 teams and the bottom teams is significant. In order to strengthen the lineup, Hamina signed several players during the offseason including Senna Surakka, Terhi Värri, Essi Rytteri and Nea Forsell.

 

Although there have been a few players absent from the lineups in the team’s practice games, there is a really positive attitude in the club and all newly signed players have settled in well. Jussi comments:

“First of all, I need to be pleased that the team has become united. Team takes steps forward in every game and a lot of development is achieved, as they have done a lot of work. It is pleasing for the coach too. All who joined the team have settled very well. You won't recognize that someone has been with the team since last October. They are all great people.”

 

Most Hamina fans will be familiar with the players and how they developed in 2022. But from the game manager’s perspective, it is always interesting to see which players are starting to show promise during the winter training. Jussi Toikka was asked who fans should look out for this season:

“Obviously I hope that the whole team has an excellent season and we develop during the summer, but of course Senna Surakka is one of the players who has a major will to show her skills. Of course many others too, but she is probably the one who you need to follow.”

Of course, there is always room for improvement and the club is fully aware that success in Ykköspesis doesn’t always lead to success in Superpesis. Jussi commented on the areas he is hoping to see some improvements as summer approaches:

“During offensive innings we have had good situations, and small adjustments are needed. We need to play bold and attack. There we need to concentrate more and work on it. There are a couple of months until the start of the season, and after two weeks we play Halli-SM where we need to beat Roihuttaret again.”

 

Whatever happens this summer, the club are ready to take on the challenge and looking in good form to repeat the success of previously promoted teams. The orange shirts will be hoping to fill the stands at Vallikenttä this summer and achieve a goal that the men’s team failed to do in 2021 - stay in Superpesis.

 

 

Article by Iain Alba

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