British mixed fastpitch team shines in Paris

Wed 4 Oct 2017

By Ian Tomlin

A mixed fastpitch team made up of players from the GB Under-19 Men, GB Women, GB Men and GB U-16 Girls just missed taking their first title at the annual Tournoi de Fleur in Paris on the weekend of 30 September-1 October.

The team finished as runners-up after a tense final against Namur from Belgium.

The British team, playing as The Roses, had a great weekend of softball, led by player-coach Josh Peat.  The squad had set their sights on winning the tournament, but the task proved to be tougher than they had imagined, with some very experienced sides turning out for the event.

As expected, Namur were very strong, but the Pirates from Amsterdam, newcomers to the tournament, dominated in the early games and the French side Limeil-Brevannes was very useful as well.

Format​

The tournament started with two groups of four teams playing a round-robin, with teams finishing first and second advancing to the semi-finals while third and fourth-place teams competed for the Petit Cup.  The groups were:

GROUP A
BAT Paris (France)
Blites (France)
Strays (GB)
Pirates (Netherlands

GROUP B
Limeil-Brevannes (France)
The Roses (GB)
BCF (France)
Namur (Belgium)
 

Good day

The British squad got off to a great start on Saturday, winning their opening game against BCF by 19-2.  The Roses were put in to bat after losing the toss and quickly put six runs on the scoreboard, then added seven more in the second inning without conceding a run.  Notable performances in the game came from pitchers Josh Peat and Oliver Howley, who penned in the BCF attack, and Adam Saunders hit a home run in his first game after a long layoff through injury.

Next up were Namur, who had won this tournament on the last two occasions.

The match started well for the British team.  A double by Tom Russell and a single from Josh Peat put two runners in scoring position, and they came home on a sacrifice fly from Nicole Ratel and a single by Dan Downes.  Namur responded with a single run in the bottom of the first inning. 

Some great defensive work by both teams kept the score at 2-1 into the fifth inning.  But with time running out, two British errors allowed two runs to score and the win went to Namur.

The Roses faced Limeil-Brevannes in the final game of the day knowing that they had to win to advance to the finals.

Neither team scored in the first inning, with Josh Peat striking out all three Limeil hitters in the bottom of the frame. 

Ben Tomlin then doubled to lead off the top of the second inning, stole third and scored on a sacrifice fly to right field by Oliver Howley.

In the top of the third inning, singles by Tom Russell, Adam Saunders and Josh Peat and walks to Amy Wells and Eliza Esiri gave brought in two more runs and stretched the British lead to 3-0.

Josh Peat set down the Limeil batters in order over the first five innings with some excellent pitching and some help from his defense, particularly a great running catch in the bottom of the fourth inning by Glenys McGuire that kept Josh’s chance of a no-hitter still on course.

However, in the sixth and final inning, a line drive base hit spoiled the bid for a perfect game.

After a 2-1 result on the day, The Roses were to face the winners of Group A on Sunday morning, and with the Pirates having run riot in that group, things looked a little daunting for Day Two.

Semi-final: The Roses v The Pirates

The British team could not have started the semi-final any better, building up a 6-0 lead after three innings.

A single by Amy Wells and a walk to Josh Peat, followed by some excellent baserunning, put the first two runs on the board in the first inning and a double by Tom Russell and singles by Amy Wells, Josh Peat, Ben Tomlin, Eliza Esiri and Glenys McGuire led to another four runs in the second inning.

The Pirates refused to lie down and consistently put runners on base.  But on two occasions they loaded the bases with no one out, only to see Josh Peat set down the next three batters in a row to close out the inning.

The Pirates did manage to get a run across in the fourth inning, but it was their only run of the game, and the British side was through to the final to face Namur.
 

Déjà vu?

Having lost against Namur on Saturday, The Roses were determined not to let mistakes beat them again – but this can be difficult to achieve under pressure.

Over the course of the first two innings the giant Namur pitcher dealt with the GB attack, striking out five of the first seven batters and only conceding a walk to Amy Wells.

Josh Peat answered in kind, and though Namur loaded the bases in the first inning Josh struck out the next three Belgians to keep the game even.

But things went wrong for the British in the second inning, and some errors, walks and stolen bases allowed the Belgians to score three runs.

The Roses clawed their way back into the game in the fourth inning.  A bunt base hit by Josh Peat and a double by Nicole Ratel brought in one run.  Nicole then advanced to third on a passed ball and scored on Ben Tomlin’s well-executed sacrifice bunt.

But the British couldn’t build on this comeback and the game ended 3-2 to Namur.

So the weekend didn’t finish as planned, but the quality of play from the British team was evident throughout.

Our thanks go to the organisers for providing a great tournament and for making us feel so welcome once again at the Tournoi de Fleur, which is held to commemorate the former GB Women’s Team player and BAT Paris player and coach Fleur Edgerton, who sadly died of cancer a few years ago.

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