BSF Leagues End-of-Season Round-up

Mon 30 Sep 2019

The 2019 outdoor season has come to an end for slowpitch softball leagues around the country, with league and divisional winners sorted.  Below are end-of season reports from a number of BSF leagues.
 

Windsor & Maidenhead League

DIVISION 1:  The WMSL First Division may have seen a changing of the guard this year.

In recent years, the division has been dominated by either the Windsor Knights or Farnham Park (formerly Chalfont).  But this year the top three was made up of teams who had not won the title before.

Back in April, when the season began, the favourites were Windsor Knights, Maidenhead Royals and RG Blue Sox.  These three had been the top teams in 2018 and nothing on paper or during the first week of the season suggested that it wouldn’t be a similar story.

But as May came around, the Windsor Knights were struggling and the newly-promoted Bracknell Scorchers were starting to thrive, while the Royals and Blue Sox were the only teams who seemed to be carrying on from last year.

So the league became a three-horse race, with the Royals and Blue Sox the front-runners and the Scorchers ready to take advantage of any slip-up.

But the Royals came out on top against the Blue Sox in both their league meetings, and those two results were the foundation for an unbeaten season and a first WMSL Division 1 title.

The Scorchers, just a year after promotion, pipped the Blue Sox in a thrilling encounter to take the runner-up spot.  

The Blue Sox had to settle for third place again, with the Knights down in fourth after recovering somewhat from a poor start to the season.  The Maidenhead Rebels and TV Typhoons finished fifth and sixth respectively, each on 18 points.

At the other end of the table, a division stalwart, the BA Jets, also struggled – a struggle that would eventually see them finish in the relegation zone.


DIVISION 2:  This division was a much more unpredictable affair, and it wouldn’t have been a fluke if any one of the final top six teams had won the league.  Everyone was capable of beating everyone else, and that’s what was happening week in and week out.

The TV Hurricanes set the early pace and were leading going into May.  But the RG Blue Jays spent the majority of the middle part of the season atop the table, and with the Wildcats and Scorchers Red also having brief periods in the top spot, the league really did come down to the business end of the season.

The surprise package in all this was the Maidenhead Rascals.  They started very slowly, but once they got their first win away at the TV Rattlesnakes, they pushed up the table, and while their title charge wasn’t prolonged, they did have a major say in the final standings with some big wins.

In amongst all of this, however, was the TV Rattlesnakes.  Runners-up the past two seasons, they boasted one of the most experienced squads and one of the deepest.  So when it came to the crunch, it was the Rattlesnakes who emerged from the pack to pip the Blue Jays right at the end, and a second Division 2 title in five years will see them playing in Division 1 again next year.

The Blue Jays finished three points back, two ahead of third-place Wildcats.  Just one point then separated the next three teams, with the TV Hurricanes taking the final top-four spot.

The Rascals and Scorchers Red both finished on 28 points, while at the bottom, Scorchers Yellow and the BA Flyers had their own private battle to avoid the Wooden Spoon.  At the end of the day, it was the Scorchers who just managed to edge their way above the Flyers.

 

Solent Softball League

DIVISION ONE:  With the Itchen Knicks having finished their title-winning season, the Falcons, Sluggers, and Dodgers played out the schedule to determine the remaining places.  Chichester Falcons won their final three games, crucially including wins over the Sluggers and Dodgers, to finish as league runner-up in their first season in the top division.

The Sluggers and Dodgers played out a tight contest at the end of August, with the Sluggers coming out on top by 10-9, thus avenging their early-season loss and evening out the head-to-head record between the teams.  Unfortunately, this was not enough to save the Sluggers from finishing in the bottom spot on runs conceded.
 

DIVISION TWO:  The Southampton Spitfires finished the season in first place and will return to Division One next season after reining in the University of Portsmouth Shafters, who finished second.

The Southsea Sharks upped their game and staved off successive relegations with wins over the Dodgers, Hurricanes and, most crucially, their relegation rivals the Zombies, to finish just two points behind the Shafters in third place.
 

DIVISION THREE:  The Division Three title came down to the wire, with the Baffins Brewers having laid down the gauntlet to the Raiders late in the season by winning in Southampton.

With the Raiders needing to win their final two games to secure the title, they triumphed over the Division Two-winning Spitfires but fell in their final game to the Hurricanes, 21-6, to ensure that the division title belonged to the Brewers for the first time.

Showing continual improvement at the foot of the table, first-year team the Vikings managed to win their final game of the season with a walk-off 10-9 victory over the Hurricanes to secure fourth place, leaving the Southampton Supermarines to prop up the table.

 

Edinburgh Softball League


PREMIER DIVISION:  Souls had an outstanding year, going undefeated in the League and the Cup, with the Rally Caps not far behind.

The battle for third place was a very close affair, with the Dodgers, Demons and Storks all in the mix for a while, but the Storks finished strongly to edge ahead of their rivals.

The Inglorious Batters had lost personnel going into the 2019 season and a few injuries made it a struggle to fill those gaps.  Hopefully, the team will get a chance to regenerate in Division 1 next season.

Winner – Souls
Runner-up – Rally Caps


DIVISION 1:  From the get-go this division looked a two-horse race with the Dohnuts perhaps as favourites -- but the Bolts won all three head-to-head games and strolled to a 14-1 record.  The Dohnuts were just behind, with Haar Hitters sealing third place.

Vultures and Vandals got off to a slow start, with a rescheduled first game and then a rain delay for their second game.  But then Vultures went on a roll and were the only team to take a game from the Bolts in 2019, finishing in a strong mid-table position and reaching the Handicap Cup final.

Winner – Bolts
Runner-up – Dohnuts


Promotion and Relegation:
Bolts move up to Premier Division
Inglorious Batters move Down to Division 1
 

Handicap Cup:
Winner – Souls
Runner-up – Vultures
 

The End-of-Season Awards night will be held on 11 October at Surgeons Hall, Edinburgh from 7.00 pm. 

 

Greater London Softball Mixed League

It was another great season for the GLSML in 2019, with 51 teams playing across six divisions.  Our annual All-Stars Day took place on 14 September, with MVPs from teams across all the divisions playing in three separate games while the autumn sun pulled in a big crowd at Clissold Park for a fantastic end to the season.
 

MAJORS 1:  The top three teams in Majors 1 were no surprise – Mescalitos and Mi6 have battled for the top spot for the last few years, while Coyotes have consistently been in the top half of the division.  After beating Mi6 in their final game, Mescalitos retained the crown, with Coyotes finishing second ahead of Mi6. 

Majors 1 has always been a tough division for promoted teams to settle in, so it was good to see both new teams -- Meteors Black and Fuzzy Ducks -- stay up, securing fourth and fifth place respectively.
 

MAJORS 2:  As usual, Majors 2 came down to the wire, ending in a tie for first place between Beyond Bermuda Guns and Base Invaders (shown below).  The teams decided they’d rather share the trophy than have a playoff, and took that spirit even further with a tied Plate final at the GLSML Lastball!  Both teams will be first-timers in Majors 1 next year.

MouseRat’s meteoric ascent from Minors 3 was finally slowed, as they finished fourth in Majors 2.  At the bottom of the table, Raiders Gold and Finsbury Dazzlers were unlucky to both be relegated despite four wins each and will hope to bounce back next season.
 

MAJORS 3:  After being denied a promotion party last year by Base Invaders, Pimlico Pirates got their way this year with a dominant performance, securing first place and promotion.  Oddsox captured second place to go back up to Majors 2, where they have spent most of the last decade.

The rest of the division was incredibly tight, with four teams tied on 18 points and Richmond Swingers going down to the Minors despite five wins.


MINORS 1:  Game of Throws dominated throughout the season, holding on to the top spot from Week 2 and securing their second consecutive promotion.  Hot on their heels were Soft Boiled, who were the big hitters of the division, averaging 22 runs a game.

There was a close race to avoid relegation.  Bat to the Future won two of their last three games to secure their position, beating close rivals Meteors Red to leave them joint seventh with the Badgers and requiring a playoff to see who can secure seventh place and possible continuation in the division.
 

MINORS 2:  The Mafia protected top spot by going unbeaten for the first 14 games of the season before getting whacked by promotion-chasing Disco Inferno, who danced their way to a joint-second finish along with the Pimlico Buccaneers, who also had an amazing season.

This led to a playoff in which the Buccaneers (shown below) started strongly and just about held their nerve to secure the coveted booty of promotion to Minors 1.

MINORS 3:  This was the tightest of all the divisions in the GLSML.  Congratulations go to the Pimlico Parrots for coming out top and making it a trifecta of promotions for the Pimlico Club this year.

The battle for second place ended in a three-way tie on both points and head-to-head results.  Brew Jays, BYOB and Diamond Dogs now face a playoff tournament for the remaining promotion slot.  The best of the rest were the Beavers, who had a dam good season!

There were some great opportunities for development in the division, with a new Raiders Indigo team forming after the Jets sadly folded.  The Raiders offered teams a series of friendly matches that gave many new Raiders their first taste of softball in what was very much a rebuilding year for London’s biggest club.

 

East Midlands Softball League

The East Midlands League closed its doors on the 2019 season with the annual Playoffs and All-Stars Day.  Prior to that, though, there was the small matter of three divisional titles to sort out….


Division One

Sheriffs had already sewn the Summer League up with three games to go following their Spring League divisional win, but they continued their fine form by winning all of their remaining games to end the season on a 7-0 record.

With only three teams in each division, it was therefore between the Misfits and Brewers as to who would go down to Division Two.  Brewers needed to beat the Misfits in the sides’ final game, and beat them by more than 15 runs, to finish level on points and consign the Misfits to relegation on runs conceded.

As it turned out, the anticipated game failed to go ahead because Misfits unfortunately couldn’t raise a team and forfeited by the standard score of 7-0. This meant that despite the win, Brewers went down on runs conceded.
 

Division Two

By a quirk of fate, all three teams in Division 2 were scheduled to play each other on the final Sunday of the season.

Unfortunately for the Leicester Royals, they started the day six points behind their rivals, so even if they won both of their games, the result between the other two teams would prevent them winning the title, even if that game was a tie.  But two wins for Royals would potentially allow them to avoid relegation.

The other two teams – the Redbacks and Pyros – were tied with 5-1 records going into the final day.  The winner would win the league based on the head-to-head result between them, even if their opponent then beat the Royals and they didn’t, as the teams would end up tied on points.

The games were scheduled so that the Pyros met the Redbacks in the first game of the day, and it was a good start for the Pyros, who beat the Redbacks 12-6 and thereby took the Division Two crown.

Despite going down in the first game and losing the title, the Redbacks found themselves quickly having to focus on the next game against the Royals, as now there was the potential for them to be relegated!  Fortunately, they managed to edge out Royals by a score of 11-8 and with it maintained their spot in Division Two for next season.

The Royals then had to take on the title-winning Pyros, knowing they had already been relegated.  But as so often happens in sport, the Royals, without the pressure of having to win, managed to do just that, by a score of 18-16.
 

Division Three

The final game of the season became a winner-take-all showdown, with both the Tigers and Raptors level on points after Raptors had lost the previous week’s game to Misfits 2.  At least this meant that the league committee didn’t have to reach for the calculators to work out the mathematics on runs conceded!

Raptors opened with a flurry of four runs in the top of the first inning and then shut out the Tigers in their first two innings, taking a 5-0 lead into the third frame.

But then it was the Tigers’ turn to play good defense and shut down the Raptors.  This appeared to give them some confidence, and their offense put up five runs in the bottom of the third inning to tie the game at 5-5.

There was more good defense by the Tigers, who posted two more shutouts and then scored two runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to take a 7-5 lead.

The teams traded runs in the sixth, and so the Tigers went into the final inning with a slim 8-6 margin.  The Raptors were looking for some quick-fire runs, but the Tigers’ defense held firm, only allowing one Raptors’ batter to reach base in that final inning.  When the game ended, the Tigers had taken the Division 3 title with an 8-6 win.


Playoff and All-Stars Day: Sunday 15 September

With the EMSL playing two half-seasons per year with Spring and Summer Leagues, there are two divisional winners each year.  In order to determine who gets the opportunity to play in the BSF League Championships the following year, playoff games are held to give an overall winner for each division.
 

In Division One, the Sheriffs had gone unbeaten and won both half-seasons, so there was no need for a playoff there.
 

In Division Two, Pyros, who had taken the Summer League title the previous weekend, played the Spring League winners Brewers. 

But prior to that there was the Division Three playoff, a re-match of the previous week’s game between Raptors (Spring winners but not promoted due to an unequal number of teams in the divisions) and the Tigers.

In the Division Two playoff game, the Pyros proved to be too hot to handle for the Brewers. 

The Pyros scored four runs in the top of the seventh inning to pad an already comfortable lead, with Matt Tomlin and Ben Tomlin both hitting home runs.  Despite getting runners on base in their final at-bat, the Brewers were unable to add to their total and the Pyros took the game 16-5.
 

With a few Tigers’ players thinking the season would be over and going off on holiday, the Tigers were missing a full squad for this Division 3 playoff game and were forced to field an understrength team of just nine players on the day.  This meant playing with a numerical disadvantage in the field and having an automatic out for the missing female batter at the bottom of the order, so there was an uphill task in front of them.

But the game was tight, with no team managing to get more than two runs in front of the other all the way through.  It was also the first game of the day to be featured on the EMSL’s live Facebook stream, and the experiment proved to be a popular one, with people from the league and further afar tuning in to watch the action.

In the end, a decisive four runs in the sixth inning followed by a further three in the seventh gave the Tigers (shown above) a 12-8 win, but it was only on replaying the Facebook feed of the game that Tigers noticed their scoring error in the first inning.  It appears that they only recorded two runs in the scorebook, not the three that actually crossed the plate!  Fortunately for Tigers this error didn’t come back to haunt them.


All-Stars Game

The final game of the day pitted an EMSL All-Star team, with at least one representative from each of the league’s teams, playing against Division 1 winners the Sheriffs.

This is the third year this game has been played, with results so far standing at 1-1 between the league champion team and the All-Stars.

The Sheriffs were playing in this game for the first time, with the Pyros having been league champions the previous two seasons, and the game was another close encounter, again live-streamed via the EMSL Facebook page.

The All Stars were leading 8-7 after six innings.  But in the top of the seventh, the Sheriffs managed to score three runs to take a 10-8 lead, and that was the final score.

This victory completed an unbelievable EMSL season for the Sheriffs, who were 18-0 in the indoor league, 8-0 in the Spring League and 7-0 in the Summer league.  Along with their win in the All-Star game, this gave them an overall record of 34 games played and 34 games won -- complete domination by anyone’s definition!

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