Bigger and better 2017 GBFL gets under way

Mon 24 Apr 2017

The Great Britain Fastpitch League made its 2017 debut at Farnham Park on Saturday 22 April with more teams, more players and more diamonds in use than last year, and with a lot of quality softball played on a cool but mostly sunny day.

This year, the GBFL, organised primarily by Lee and Jan Grafton, has a six-team men’s league and a five-team women’s league, and the Women’s League was able to take full advantage of the brand new softball field at Farnham Park, situated next to the newly-opened BSUK clubhouse and its Home Plate Bar and Kitchen.

The greater number of teams and players in the 2017 GBFL is in part a result of more slowpitch players than ever deciding to give fastpitch a try.

The GBFL will have more games this year, with play taking place on six Saturdays rather than four, as was the case in 2016.  The season will finish on Saturday 3 June after further games on 29 April, 6 May, 30 May and 27 May.

Traditionally, GBFL dates are restricted to the early part of the season to avoid clashes with major slowpitch events, and so that all or most of the games are played before GB Fastpitch national teams travel to tournaments overseas.  This year, however, players will be surveyed with regard to the impact it might have on GBFL teams if the season is stretched out further in 2018.
 

Men’s League

In the Men’s League, two new teams, the Tigers and the Chichester Falcons, have joined the quartet of Meteors teams – Red, Blue, Green and Black – that all contain a mix of players from the GB Men and GB Under-19 Men player pools.

There were a number of close games in the Men’s Division on Opening Day, highlighted by a 1-0 pitcher’s duel won by Meteors Black over Meteors Green.  By the end of the day, however, Meteors Blue and Meteors Black were sitting on top of the division with undefeated records, while the Tigers emerged from a very creditable first day with a record of 2-2.

The standard of play in most of the men’s games was high, with the league featuring a number of talented pitchers, and there should be a lot of entertaining softball played in this division over the remaining five weeks of the season.

Standings after Week 1 are:

 

TEAMS GP W L D PCT RUN DIFF
Meteors Blue 4 4 0 0 1.000 +27
Meteors Black 3 3 0 0 1.000 +15
Tigers 4 2 2 0 .500 -3
Meteors Green 3 1 2 0 .333 -1
Meteors Red 3 0 3 0 .000 -14
Chichester Falcons 3 0 3 0 .000 -24

 

Women’s League​

The London Angels, Britain’s oldest women’s fastpitch club, goes back to the early 2000s, and in most seasons can be guaranteed to finish on top of the Women’s League standings.  But the Angels are going to have their hands full this year with a new team, The Mix, put together by young GB national team players Sian Wigington and Chelsie Robison.

On Opening Day, The Mix, made up primarily of players from the GB Women and Under-19 Women pools, and with Canadian pitcher Andrea Williams in the circle, shot to the top of the standings with three comfortable wins, including an 11-0 drubbing of the Angels in the first game of the day.

But the Angels came back to pick up wins over the Diamonds and a new team, the Strays, and finished the day in second place.  This could be a contest that goes down to the last day of the season, as the Angels had a number of players missing on Opening Day who should be back to make them stronger as the season progresses.

The Strays did well on their first day in the GBFL, finishing at 1-1, while the Diamonds were 1-2 and the Free Agents, featuring a number of players from the GB Under-16 pool, were 0-3 but were competitive in all three games and only lost by one run to the Strays in a game that finished 11-10.

Standings after Week 1 are:

TEAMS GP W L D PCT RUN DIFF
The Mix 3 3 0 0 1.000 +35
London Angels 3 2 1 0 .667 +3
The Strays 2 1 1 0 .500 -6
Oxford Diamonds 3 1 2 0 .333 -17
Free Agents 3 0 3 0 .000 -15


Registration for new players

Although the GBFL season is now under way and the teams have been formed, new players who want to join the league can register for the “Sub’s Bench” on https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/GBFL2017Sub, and team captains will be able to call these players in case of need.

There is also a Northern branch of the GBFL, based in Nottingham and Manchester, and interested players should contact Paul Cooper on: paul.cooper.22@googlemail.com.

For a wealth of information on the GBFL, visit the league website on: https://www.fastpitchsoftball.co.uk/.

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