Final Standings!

AISL is proud to announce the final standings for the 2012 season!

The following teams will be participating in the National Championships in Baku November 3-4. Congratulations to all and good luck!

The Road to Baku
1 Oguz
2 Ismayilli
3 Ganja
4 Bilesuvar
5 Danachi
6 Balaken
7 Goychay
8 Mingachevir

 

Division Team Wins Losses Winning % Runs For Runs Against Differential
West Division
1 Ganja 8 1 89 108 -58 50
2 Goranboy 2 2 50 46 -51 -5
3 Tovuz 3 3 50 46 -44 2
4 Mingachevir 2 7 22 41 -69 -28
Caucasus
1 Oguz 11 4 73 142 -100 42
2 Danachi 9 6 60 126 -95 31
3 Balakan 8 9 47 130 -105 25
4 Oguz 2 0 6 0 16 -85 -69
Central
1 Ismayilli 11 4 73 126 -95 31
2 Goychay 4 6 40 63 -92 -29
3 Yevlax 0 11 0 55 -125 -70
North
1 Khachmaz 1 2 33 13 -16 -3
2 Guba 0 0 0 0 0 0
South
1 Bilesuvar 7 0 100 112 -47 65
2 Lenkaran 0 5 0 25 -66 -41
3 Saatli 0 0 0 0 0 0

Spring Season Concluded

Today marks the end of the first half of the softball season, the spring season. There will now be a break during July and August, when the heat is almost too unbearable to play. Although we’re sure plenty of teams will continue practicing throughout the summer, games will not recommence until September, when each team will play in 3 more tournaments for a chance to go to Baku to play in the national championship tournament.

This spring season saw more parity than AISL has ever seen. Here’s a brief recap!

Team To Beat:

Danachi, Zaqatala: Although they are no longer undefeated, they have a 7-1 record with a +33 run differential, despite playing in the most competitive division. Strong bats and quick gloves make this team the early favorite for the national crown.

Honorable mention: Bilesuvar: They remain undefeated and don’t seem to be slowing down.

Up and Comer:

Ismayilli: There’s no question here. First year team Ismayilli is sporting an impressive 8-2 record with a +32 run differential going into the break. No one expected this!

Honorable mention: Balaken: Despite a 3-6 record, Balaken maintains a +14 run differential and has not lost a game by more than 2 runs. They’re in every game and just need to find that final piece of the puzzle before they become a true powerhouse.

 

Division Team Wins Losses Winning % Runs For Runs Against Differential
West Division              
1 Ganja 6 1 86 81 -51 30
2 Goranboy 2 2 50 46 -51 -5
3 Tovuz 3 3 50 46 -44 2
4 Mingachevir 1 4 20 24 -48 -24
Caucasus              
1 Danachi 7 1 88 81 -48 33
2 Oguz 5 3 62 93 -82 11
3 Balakan 3 6 33 81 -67 14
4 Oguz 2 0 3 0 11 -46 -35
Central              
1 Ismayilli 8 2 80 96 -64 32
2 Goychay 2 4 33 35 -49 -14
3 Yevlax 0 7 0 45 -79 -34
North              
1 Khachmaz 1 2 33 13 -16 -3
2 Guba 0 0 0 0 0 0
South              
1 Bilesuvar 5 0 100 75 -40 35
2 Lenkaran 0 5 0 25 -66 -41
3 Saatli 0 0 0 0 0 0
               
The Road to Baku            
1 Bilesuvar            
2 Danachi            
3 Ganja            
4 Ismayilli            
5 Khachmaz            
6 Oguz     Top 8 Advance    
7 Tovuz     1. Best in each division  
8 Balaken     2. Most Wins    
9 Goranboy     3. Run Differential    
10 Goychay            
11 Mingachevir            
12 Yevlax            
13 Lenkaran            
14 Guba            
15 Saatli            
16 Oguz 2            

Standing Updates and Sustainability!

We are so proud to say that we had our first completely sustainable, independent softball game between Goranboy and Ganja. Goranboy no longer has any volunteers to help manage their team, but they were kept in the league and have independently kept the team alive. Clearly they’re still doing a great job! They only lost to powerhouse Ganja by 1 (12-11). Ganja’s PCV managers were unavailable, so the team organized their own travel and were able to pull off the win alone! We’re so proud of both teams!

More updates to come after the games tomorrow!!!

 

Division Team Wins Losses Winning % Runs For Runs Against Differential
West Division              
1 Tovuz 1 0 100 9 -1 8
2 Ganja 1 1 50 13 -20 -7
3 Mingachevir 0 0 0 0 0 0
4 Goranboy 0 1 0 11 -12 -1
Caucasus              
1 Danachi 2 0 100 18 -16 2
2 Oguz 1 1 50 19 -18 1
3 Balakan 0 2 0 14 -16 -2
Central              
1 Ismayilli 4 1 80 49 -31 18
2 Goychay 1 1 50 14 -15 -1
3 Yevlax 0 2 0 15 -23 -8
North              
1 Khachmaz 1 2 33 13 -16 -3
2 Guba 0 0 0 0 0 0
South              
1 Bilesuvar 5 0 100 75 -40 35
2 Lenkaran 0 5 0 25 -66 -41
3 Saatli 0 0 0 0 0 0

Fundraiser Upcoming!!!

Fundraiser Upcoming!!!

Thanks to all involved! We’re excited!

Opening Day Results!

After the first weekend of games, it’s very clear that this year’s championship is going to come down to the wire. The parity in the league this year is unprecedented and it should be an exciting season to follow. Some teams opted to practice a little longer and open their season a few weeks later, however most teams have already dove right into league play.

More updates to come after the June 10th tournaments that will occur across the country!

Division Team Wins Losses Winning % Runs For Runs Against Differential
West Division              
1 Tovuz 1 0 100 9 -1 8
2 Ganja 0 1 0 1 -9 -8
3 Mingachevir 0 0 0 0 0 0
4 Goranboy 0 0 0 0 0 0
Caucasus              
1 Danachi 2 0 100 18 -16 2
2 Oguz 1 1 50 19 -18 1
3 Balakan 0 2 0 14 -16 -2
Central              
1 Ismayilli 2 0 100 21 -12 9
2 Goychay 1 1 50 14 -15 -1
3 Yevlax 0 2 0 15 -23 -8
North              
1 Khachmaz 0 0 0 0 0 0
2 Guba 0 0 0 0 0 0
South              
1 Bilesuvar 2 0 100 31 -16 15
2 Lenkaran 0 2 0 16 -31 -15
3 Saatli 0 0 0 0 0 0

2012 Season Preview

As Major League Baseball opens its 2012 season today, the Azerbaijan Interregional Softball League (AISL) is less than two months away from its own opening day on May 20th. Entering its seventh season, the AISL will field 16 teams, its largest number to date. With the weather having grown more and more pleasant, many teams have begun spring training. More than 200 Azeri boys and girls have started shaking off the off-season rust and taking fly balls, ground balls, and batting practice in preparation for the first tournament of the spring. As the Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) coaches continue to motivate and the Azerbaijani players continue to sharpen their skills, the question is, who will emerge as this year’s champion?

With the rapid growth of softball in Azerbaijan, the AISL has taken on a new structure this season. The 16-team league has been splint into five regional divisions: the West Division of Tovuz, Ganja, Mingechevir, and Goranboy, the Caucusus Division of Balaken, Danachi (Zagatala), Oguz, and Yevlakh, the Central Division of Ismayilli, Goychay, and Kurdemir, the North Division of Khachmaz and Guba, and the South Division of Bilesuvar, Saatli, and Lenkeran. Each team will compete in 16 games over six Sunday tournaments (three in the spring and three in the fall), vying to bring home a divisional title. At the end of the regular season, the five divisional champions, plus three wildcard teams, will compete for the first ever AISL National Championship!

As in any sports league, the AISL field is full of favorites, dark horses, and up-and-comers. With the only undefeated record last year, Bilesuvar is the pre-season favorite to take home the prize. Practicing three days a week throughout the off-season while northern teams had to wait out the snow should only prove to give the boys from the south a greater advantage. However, perennial powerhouses Mingechevir and Tovuz cannot be discounted, as each team returns a solid corps of experienced ball players this season. They will definitely give Bilesuvar a good run for its money.

Image

Those Bilesuvar boys can play ball! They will look to take home the National Championship this year.

While these three teams certainly are the most experienced, by no means does it mean that they are the only three that will compete for a title. Ganja is another very experienced ball club that can certainly hang with the best of them. With a year of play under their belts, teams such as Balaken, Danachi, Ismayilli, Kurdemir, Goychay, Khachmaz, and Goranboy will be looking to show the league just how much they have improved since the end of last season. Also, the boys and girls from Oguz, under the coaching prowess of league Commissioner Kevin Kravitz, made huge strides in their first year of play last season. With its corps of players back this season, Oguz is looking to take the next step: becoming an elite team that competes for the championship.

Image

Oguz (green) looks to join the ranks of the Elite this season.

This year also will see the birth of four new ball clubs in Saatli, Lenkeran, Guba, and Yevlakh. With practices having just begun, these young squads are in the initial stages of learning the rules and skills of the game. Having nearly two months to prepare for Opening Day, however, there is no doubt that under the direction of their wonderful PCV coaches, each of these teams will be ready to compete on day one. And who knows? One of these up-and-coming ball clubs may shock the world, knocking off the AISL powerhouses and bringing home the gold. On any given Sunday, anything is possible.

Of course, the AISL is not all about who wins and loses; it never has been and never will be. From its inception, the goals of the Azerbaijani Interregional Softball League have been to promote healthy lifestyles, teamwork, sportsmanship, self-discipline, respect, friendship, and gender relations. These goals are carried out at every practice, as the PCVs in Azerbaijan continue working with their individual community’s youth to not only make them better ball players, but, more importantly, make them better people.

The AISL is also on the continued path to sustainability. For the first time ever, a league team (Goranboy) will be led by a non-PCV coach. With this huge step, Goranboy is paving the way for future teams to be run by locals, allowing Azerbaijan to one day fully take control of the league. Additionally, in this “year of sports” (as declared by Azerbaijan’s President, Ilham Aliyev), the AISL is beginning to develop relationships with Azerbaijani businesses and organizations in hopes of establishing long-lasting partnerships. In its current state, however, the AISL is relying on the kind donations from friends and family of PCVs back in the United States. With a simple, tax deductible donation, you will be helping a nation’s youth to continue playing the game they love. Visit our donation page at: https://www.peacecorps.gov/index.cfm?shell=donate.contribute.projDetail&projdesc=314-091

Please help us today so that the youth of Azerbaijan can play ball tomorrow!

Image

Kurdemir, Balaken, Danachi, and Oguz at the Oguz tournament last fall. Each team looks to prove itself in 2012.

2012 Season Schedule Announced

The 2012 softball season is just around the corner!

The Azerbaijan Interregional Softball League (AISL) has expanded, with an unprecedented 16 teams now divided into 5 regional divisions.

West Division

Caucasus Division

Central Division

North Division

South Division

Tovuz Balaken Ismayilli Khachmaz Bilesuvar
Ganja Zagatala Kurdemir Guba Saatli
Goranboy Oguz Goychay Lenkaran
Mingachevir Yevlakh

Please see the spring schedule below.

Opening day is May 20! The season will last until mid-October, with a league-wide break during the hottest summer months of July and August, also the time when Ramadan is observed.

ImageImageImage

Like Little League baseball in the United States, the AISL is enlisting the help of local businesses and individuals to help finance the 2012 season. Since the league began in 2006, it has only ever been sponsored by contributions from the US. This year, to celebrate the league’s 7th season and its massive expansion to a 5 division, 16 team entity, we are soliciting the financial support of local businesses where teams are located. Additionally, just like in Little League in the US, we have implemented a team fee for each team, counting on the passion and energy of the players to help fundraise and sponsor their travel to tournaments throughout the country. In this way, we are moving towards our goal of a completely sustainable softball league in Azerbaijan that celebrates America’s favorite pastime and Azerbaijan’s newest athletic craze!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yLE78bdcmAE

Although moves towards sustainability are well underway, we still need your help. Travel in Azerbaijan can be expensive, and most of our players do not have the financial means to fully fund their transportation to every tournament. Furthermore, corporate sponsorship is not as common of a practice here as it is in the United States.

Any financial assistance that you could give to make this season possible would be greatly appreciated!

Here is the link to our fundraising page: https://www.peacecorps.gov/index.cfm?shell=donate.contribute.projDetail&projdesc=314-091

Thank you.

LET’S PLAY BALL!

Spring Tournament, #1: May 20, 2012 (Each team plays 2 games)
West Caucasus Central North South
Ganja at Tovuz Balaken at Zag All at Goychay Guba at Khach All at Bilesuvar
Ming at Gor Oguz at Yevlakh
Spring Tournament, #2: June 3, 2012 (Each team plays 3 games)
West Caucasus Central North South
All at Ganja All at Oguz All at Ismayilli Khach at Guba All at Saatli
Spring Tournament, #3 (Inter-Division Play): June 17, 2012 (Each team plays 3 games)
At Ming At Yevlakh
Tovuz Yevlakh
Ganja Goychay
Zag Oguz
Ming Kurdemir
Balaken Ismayilli
Goranboy
Spring Tournament, #4 (North & South): June 24, 2012 in Baku (Each team plays 3)
At Baku
Bilesuvar
Saatli
Lenkaran
Khachmaz
Guba

Baku Tournament- Spring 2011

by Lannea Russell, PCV Khachmaz

Khachmaz faced off Bilesuvar in a tournament sponsored by the American Embassy, including a trip to McDonald’s afterwards! The Khachmaz Maximum players joked that maybe a more appropriate name would be the “Khachmaz Minumum” after a 5-25 loss. However, the Maximum coaches were proud of their newly-formed team, reminding the players that only a month before no one had any idea which hand to wear the baseball glove on. Progress! It's a beautiful day to play some ball!

The First GOATs Practice

The First GOATs Practice

By Amy King

The Goranboy GOATs are a bit of a misfit team. We have a range of kids from 8-16 and have been around the league for a year and a half. The managers are two female Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs), me and Kate. We called the team the GOATs because G.O.A.T. is Greatest Of All Time. While we have yet to live up to our team nickname, we sure have a great group of kids.

Yesterday was the first practice after a short, very hot summer hiatus. When spring training starts in March for the Majors League, the big talk is of returners, newcomers, injuries and general changes in the team since last season. In the Azerbaijani softball league, the big talk at the beginning of the season is if you can round up (in my case “herd”) enough kids to form a team that can actually practice. Well, yesterday we got 5 kids show up, and 2 of them are returners. 5 kids at practice is pretty good for the first one of the season, and with that we did a throwing tutelage session then batting practice.

It’s great to get returners out to the field, because describing the game of softball is very difficult in a second language. The returners explain what a “base”, “strike”, “ball” or any of the other numerous baseball terms there are with no translation. Also, with batting practice, we usually give the kids 5-10 hits before they run the bases. This makes it confusing in the games, as they don’t understand that they must run on the FIRST hit. Returners help explain this. Yesterday, a girl hit a foul ball, started running the bases and she was rounding second by the time we stopped her to explain what a foul ball was, and why it counted as a strike against her.

Other funny things that happened at practice yesterday were that one girl carried her glove in her left hand and a bat in her right out to the field. I asked what she was doing with the bat and she looked at me completely stone-faced and asked “I don’t need this out here?” I let her know that the bat was for offense and that she was playing defense. Then turned to my co-coach Kate and cracked a big smile. I love when stuff like that happens.  Then when we were switching positions, one of the kids was being moved from second to shortstop. On my team, I take the 10th player (slow-pitch softball plays with 10) and stick them right on top of second base so that there’s less movement necessary on the field. Well on the move, the kid took the “base” (an unused lefty glove) from second to shortstop with him. It was the first time I had seen a stolen base by the defensive second baseman.

Overall it was a good practice. We got three new players and a new season underway. Welcome to Azerbaijani Softball Fall 2011.

You’re where?: An Intro to Azerbaijani Softball

By Amy King

           The past two years I have been living and volunteering as a Youth Development Peace Corps volunteer in the small post-soviet country of Azerbaijan. It’s most recent claim to fame is winning the 2011 Eurovision song contest (the American Idol of Europe) with a song called “Running Scared”. Their main sports style is individual, i.e. wrestling, judo and kickboxing. Well, the Peace Corps volunteers in Azerbaijan have decided to teach values such as teamwork, fair play and sportsmanship to the youth we work with by starting a softball league.

          As a coach for the past two seasons, I have seen the league grow from four teams to twelve. There are boys and girls playing together in tournaments that are as important to the kids as if they were the World Series. While sportsmanship isn’t always their strongest suit while playing (these kids are super-competitive), the off-the-field friendships these kids have made erases any on-field grudges. Think Brian Cashman and Theo Epstein.

Growing up a playing softball and being a huge Red Sox fan, it is a privilege to be able to teach these kids the game that Americans call their own. The falls season starts this weekend and my fellow coaches and I will be bringing you all the trials and tribulations, smiles and tears, successes and mishaps of this inspiring league. Stay tuned for some very funny stories.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.