The women’s team had a slow start to the season last year, but after that it was almost perfect. The team earned promotion and return to Superpesis for 2023, where they will face new challenges in their bid to stay in the top division. The women’s team haven’t been in Superpesis since 2007, but there was little doubt that they were ready to return. The question now is whether Hamina can avoid relegation and build a future back in Superpesis.
Reetta Juntunen played for JoMa and Hamina as part of a joint representation agreement in 2022, but now has signed full time for Hamina. Senna Surakka also joins from JoMa, having played 21 games for Joensuu in the regular season last year. Surakka will act as a shortstop in defence and is a solid progressing hitter as well.
Nea Forsell returns to Hamina, her breeder club, from Pesä Ysit along with Essi Rytteri. Forsell adds an element of firepower to Hamina’s joker lineup. In 2022 she had the 3rd highest number of RBIs in the southern group during the regular season (3 home runs and 38 RBIs). Rytteri is a pitcher who has Superpesis experience and can create unusual and exciting plays; however she also has experience of batting in the number 4 role last year.
Terhi Värri from Pöytyä joins Surakka as the other shortstop and acts as Hamina’s leadoff hitter. Värri is incredibly fast and adds a great start to the lineup. The most recent signing however is probably the fastest player in the lineup. Roosa Lappalainen joins the team on loan from Kirittäret and adds a significant boost to Hamina’s scoring chances: the addition of Lappalainen, Värri and Surakka to the team brings a huge boost in speed and could be the difference between relegation and staying in Superpesis.
Hamina’s defence was the best in Ykköspesis in 2022, allowing just 92 runs during the regular season. The real test will come when they face teams like Manse, Lapua and Pori, who have a lot of hitting power. If the defence can hold up against those big teams, then Hamina will have a chance to take points away from tough games, which will be crucial in their quest to avoid relegation.
The team’s biggest weakness in 2022 was scoring runs - although Hamina did have bouts of solid hitting, they only scored 171 runs during the regular season (the 8th highest in Ykköspesis). With the defences in Superpesis proving to be much tougher than in Ykköspesis, the lack of hitting power remains a key weakness. Niina Nukarinen continues in the number 4 role in the lineup, with Taru Toikka and Anniina Salo acting as hard hitting jokers.
The main opponents
Hamina’s biggest opponents this year will be the teams close to the bottom of Superpesis, as there will be a tight race to stay away from the relegation battle. Roihuttaret had a tough season last year, finishing bottom of the table with a 15 game losing streak during the middle of the season. Roihu however came back during the relegation playoffs and saw off Pöytyä and Ykköspesis runners-up Lappajärvi.
Tahko’s 2022 was fairly mixed. They struggled at points in the season, but ultimately managed to finish in 8th. Tahko’s offence was the 2nd worst in the league with only 112 runs scored in the regular season. If Hamina want to make it into the playoffs, Tahko will be one of the teams they will need to target; although there will be a good chance for Hamina to exploit Tahko’s weakness if they start to struggle like they did last year.
Joensuun Maila will want to stay clear of the relegation battle in 2023, especially after they finished just 1 point away from a playoff spot. JoMa are strengthened by signing another hard hitting joker, Maria Kaakinen. Their opening game against Lapua was closer than many expected; however JoMa failed to take away any points. If JoMa can’t take their chances and score points in games, they could find themselves in trouble.
Kempele’s start to 2022 was poor, but they did much better in this year’s Halli-SM. Kempele finished 10th in 2022 only 2 points clear from being in the relegation series. Kempele’s defence was one of the worst in the league in 2022, conceding 194 runs in the regular season.
Key home matches
18.05.2023 - Hamina v Roihuttaret
Hamina host Roihu in their second game of the season. This rivalry could be decisive in which team stays in Superpesis, so this fixture will be a key season game to watch. This is the first of 4 games between the two teams, who could also end up meeting in the relegation playoff series.
01.07.2023 Hamina v Mailattaret
Vaasa stormed into the playoffs in 2022, but after star pitcher Venla Tanhua has left the team, Mailattaret are looking a lot weaker. Mailattaret’s ability to win will largely depend on their game manager and their tactics - this will make the game more exciting and difficult to predict.
21.07.2022 Hamina v Tahko
Tahko’s season last year was filled with inconsistent performances and this could be the same in 2023. If Hamina are contending for a playoff spot, this game will be all the more important.
13.08.2023 Hamina v JoMa
The final game of the regular season could be the all important decider for where Hamina finish in the table. JoMa slipped to 9th last year and will want to be in the playoffs in 2023; the game therefore could mean a lot to both of these teams.
Hamina didn’t have a great Halli SM tournament, but there are some signs of progress and encouragement. Training games against Roihuttaret and Pesä Ysit have revealed that Hamina are playing at a Superpesis level, but the quest to stay up will be a challenge. There are a number of teams who could face relegation at the end of the season, but the most obvious candidate will be Roihuttaret. I predict that Hamina will stay in Superpesis and avoid relegation: a playoff spot is likely to be out of reach, but still possible if everything falls in pro place.
Article by Iain Alba
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