Italy represented Europe at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Birmingham 2022 World Games ©Getty Images

The Women's European Softball Championship begins tomorrow in Catalonia, with 21 teams set to compete.

Italy are the defending champions and are due to begin their campaign versus Poland in Gavá tomorrow.

Venues in Gavá, Sant Boi, Barcelona and Viladecans are all due to stage matches, with the tournament due to reach its climax next Saturday (July 30).

A new format is in place for this year's edition, which it is hoped will lead to more even matches.

The 21 teams are divided into four groups and the top three in each will advance to a second group stage - comprised of two six-team pools.

The top three from those pools then advance to what is billed as a semi-final group, where round-robin play will determine the line-up for the medal matches.

The Netherlands will be among the favourite in Catalonia ©Getty Images
The Netherlands will be among the favourite in Catalonia ©Getty Images

Italy beat the Dutch in the 2021 final, while the Czech Republic edged out Israel for the bronze medal.

Greece, Belgium and Croatia join Italy and the Poles in Group A.

The Netherlands, Ireland, Austria, Germany and Switzerland are in Group B.

Ukraine, Turkey, France, the Czech Republic and Britain complete Group C, while hosts Spain, Finland, Denmark, Israel, Slovakia and Malta are in Group D.

Russia and Belarus are banned from all World Baseball Softball Confederation Europe competitions this year because of the war in Ukraine.