Baseball and softball have moved forward in the sport review process ©BUCS

British University and Colleges Sport (BUCS) has announced that BaseballSoftballUK (BSUK) has moved forward to the implementation stage of its sport review process.

The news, announced following the BUCS Annual General Meeting and Winter Seminar in Loughborough, has been described as "a significant step forward" for the sports.

If successful in the implementation phase, BSUK will be able to expand across as many higher institutions as possible and enter the inter-university competition programme.

Existing university baseball and softball clubs will also have the chance to raise their profile.

A consultation phase has been ongoing over the past 18 months, leading up to the decision.

"I am delighted with the announcement from BUCS inviting us to move to the implementation phase for inclusion into the BUCS inter-university competition programme," said BSUK head of development Chris Rawlings. 

"It will provide us with a great opportunity to further strengthen the presence and profile of baseball and softball in the university sports sector in the coming years. 

"It is the culmination of a rigorous and detailed review process which BUCS have taken us through in the past 18 months. 

Baseball and softball are emerging sports in British universities ©BBUK
Baseball and softball are emerging sports in British universities ©BBUK

"It has given us the opportunity to review the structure of our competitions for both baseball and softball, much of which we have introduced in this current academic year as a forerunner to inclusion in the future.

"This is the result of much hard work by many students over a number of years, during which time baseball and softball have grown significantly in the higher education institute sector. 

"Without the establishment of these clubs and societies, we would not have had a strong case to present to BUCS and its member institutions. 

"We are very hopeful that following a successful implementation phase, we will see our university clubs and societies being able to access facilities more readily and receive additional administrative and financial support, further strengthening and sustaining them."

The implementation phase will now begin next month with more details announced when available.

BSUK first became involved in university baseball and softball in 2009, with five institutions fielding teams.

There are now 36 institutions involved with a combined 79 teams and more than 1,600 players. 

Both men's baseball and women's softball will return to the Olympic programme at Tokyo 2020 following their axing after Beijing 2008.