BSF Leagues Round-up: July 2018

Wed 25 Jul 2018

The 2018 slowpitch softball season has reached or passed the halfway point for most leagues around the country.  Below are reports on what happened in a number of these leagues during June.


Bristol Softball Association

With half of the 2018 season played in the BSA, the league still has three unbeaten teams.  There have been plenty of close and high-scoring games, plus two successful tournaments completed.  Read on for a rundown of the three divisions so far and the results of the Firstball Tournament and the DD Cup.

Bristol also had four players selected to represent Great Britain at the first-ever European Men’s Slowpitch Championship (more details below).

Division 3

Monkeys are at the top of the tree in Division 3, with six wins from six games, having beaten each of the other teams in the league once so far.  But Flycatchers are hot on their heels with only one loss.  The Flycatcher men are leading the home run chart through Simon Masters and Achmad Evans.

The Underarm Tossers are third with a 4-2 record and Run ’n’ Base, Bristol Bulls and Base Invaders are all 1-5 so far.  Bristol Bulls are making their debut in the BSA this season and they have acquitted themselves nicely so far.

Division 2

Division 2 is headed by another unbeaten team, Archway Thunder, with a 6-0 record.  After walking away with the Division 3 title last year, Archway Thunder show no signs of slowing down, and have hit an incredible 31 home runs through six games, with seven different players homering and Josh Stanley leading the division (and indeed the BSA) with 13 to his name.

There is little separating the other teams in this division, with most teams taking points from one another, and it remains to be seen if anyone can pull away from the group or dethrone Archway Thunder.

Division 1

Last year’s winners, the Jets, are again top, with a 7-0 record, beating Sliders (6-1) into second place by winning a tight eight-inning game against them.  Guppy Spotters and Scorgs are 4-3, with newly promoted Grandslammers right behind them at 3-4.

The Flyers, LSDs and Greasy Mitts are currently fighting to stay out of the bottom two, but there’s a long way to go yet.  In the home run department, David Grey leads with eight, but he’s being chased by a large pack of players who have four or more, including Katherine Golik, who leads the BSA in female home runs with four.

First Ball

Results at the Bristol First Ball were:

Stella Cup Winner:  Jets
Stella Plate Winner:  Grandslammers
Carling Cup Winner:  Archway School
Carling Plate Winners:  Underarm Tossers

DD Cup

The 2018 Bristol DD Cup was a very pleasant 11-team tournament played on the weekend of 26-27 May at Clifton College Sports Ground.  Finals were played in Cup, Plate and Spoon categories.

The Cup final was a very close game until the last two innings, when the Thundercats found their batting and the Whales made a couple of fielding errors. 

The Plate winners were Coalition of Swinging Legends, who prevailed in another close match against Transformers from Jersey.

The Spoon trophy was awarded after a three-team round-robin and was won by the Underarm Tossers.  This team was only formed last year with new players, and it’s great to see the team grow and develop.

Bristol at the European Men’s Championship

Bristol Softball continued a long tradition of having players selected to represent Great Britain at international tournaments with four players being chosen as part of the 16-strong first-ever GB Men’s Slowpitch Team, plus David Lee travelling as the Assistant Coach (and also getting some time on the field).

The four players selected were Aaron Thomas (LSDs), David Grey and Mike MacDowell (Sliders) and George Bartlett (Jets), and all of them were instrumental in helping GB win the seven-team tournament [] that included Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, Ireland, Italy and the Netherlands. 


Greater London Softball Mixed League (GLSML)

GLSML Majors 1 appears to be a three-horse race.  The Mescalitos and LNZ are both on 18 points with eight games played.  Mi6 are also on 18 points, but with a game in hand.  Meanwhile, at the bottom of the division, Raiders Gold are still looking for their first win of the season.  The other newcomers to the division, Mezcalitos Ninos, have fared a little bit better, and are on four points just before the halfway mark of their season.

Majors 2 is a more even split, with two teams (PIs and Fuzzy Ducks) on 15 points, three teams (Beyond Bermuda Guns, and newcomers to the division Finsbury Dazzlers and The Mob) on 12 points, two teams (club mates Meteors Black and Meteors Purple) on 9 points, and the Oddsox on 6 points.   As per usual in Division 2, at the midway point in the season, it looks like any of the teams could still be facing promotion or relegation.

Majors 3 is another three-way race, and Mouse Rat (on 18 points) and the Pirates and Base Invaders (both on 16 points) are all on course for potential promotion.  Could a playoff be in the cards at John Archer Way stadium?  Comets Orange are currently in fourth place after facing personnel issues at the start of the season.  The rest of the division appears wide open, as Thundercats, Raiders Blue, Chargers and Cheetahs will all be looking to avoid being relegated to the Minors.

It has been an interesting few weeks in Minors 1, with Oblivion leading the way courtesy of wins over Tornadoes and Raiders Red.  Consistent run-scoring in the upper 20s during recent games has been the backbone of their rise to the top of the division.  The chasing pack are tightly bunched, meaning that if any of the Tecumsehs, Badgers or Swingers can put a run together they could be vying for the top spot.  At the bottom, the form of Voodoos and Meteors Red has been up and down, with some brilliant victories followed by painful defeats.  It is still all to play for, with a few wins capable of taking the bottom teams into a mid-table position.

Base Jumpers and Game of Throws are at the top of Minors 2 on 21 points, but Jumpers have a game in hand so could re-establish their three-point lead at the top.  But mark 17 July in your diaries, when the top two will do battle.  Bat to the Future’s impressive debut season at this level continues, and they are well-placed to strike should either of the top two slip up.  It has also been interesting at the bottom, as Golden Sombreros finally got off the mark with a tense, close and very late-finishing one run victory over Disco Inferno, who replace them at the foot of the table.

The Mafia continues to make the opposition pay as they lead the way in Minors 3 by three points over Knight Sliders and High Voltage.  This division has traditionally seen a lot of runs scored, and this year is no exception, with Mafia, High Voltage, Knight Sliders and Raiders Green all winning games by scoring over 25 runs in recent weeks.  At the bottom, sadly, the Jets’ season is yet to take off, but they will be looking to take flight if they can manage a win over The Mafia.

The debut season for Minors 4 has produced excitement, some excellent team names, and some exciting games.  This division fits the cliche of having two divisions within a division.  The top three of Brew Jays, BYOB and Parrots have clear daylight over the bottom three of Beavers, Raiders Orange and Meteors Green.  This is leading to intense battles at either end of the division to either finish first or avoid finishing with the wooden spoon.


Windsor & Maidenhead Softball League

The WMSL league programme reached the halfway point in June, and after seven weeks of play, it’s great to report that the league only lost four games out of 56, all four being Division 1 games that were rained out.

But the loss of those four games didn’t detract from the action, and from the start Division 1 has been dominated by the Windsor Knights, RG Blue Sox and Maidenhead Royals.  The Royals led the league through May and into June on runs conceded, as all three teams remained unbeaten.  But then, during the last two weeks of the first half, the top three all played each other.

The Knights, who had spent most of the time in third place, first overcame the Royals 21-20 in an epic encounter to move into second, then beat the Blue Sox 25-8 to finally move clear of their rivals.

Going into the homeward leg, the Knights are first on 18 points with a perfect 6-0 record, the Blue Sox are second on 16 points with a 5-1 record and the Royals dropped to third following a second defeat of the season against the Farnham Park Phoenix, who themselves sit mid-table along with the BA Jets, both on 3-3 records.

At the bottom, three teams are tied on 1-5 records, as Maidenhead Rebels, TV Typhoons and TV Tornados fight it out to avoid the drop.

Division 2 is a two-horse race between Scorchers II and TV Rattlesnakes.  Both were 5-0 when they met in the penultimate round of the first half, and Scorchers II came out on top in that encounter to move two points clear, with both teams now five points clear of the third-placed Wildcats.

The Wildcats had a woeful start to the season, but following two defeats they bounced back with four straight wins to move from bottom to third.  The Wildcats are a point better off than the Blue Sox and have a game in hand.

The Blue Sox have had an interesting first half: their record reads as a win followed by a loss then back to a win.  They would be a certain title contender if they could just string a few wins together, but they traditionally come on strong in the second half of seasons, so all is not yet lost.

Just behind the Blue Sox are the Hurricanes, who had a strong start to the year and for a few weeks were keeping pace with the top two.  But three defeats in the last four have set them back and they find themselves nine points off the lead.

Two points separate the bottom three, with the Maidenhead Rascals leading Scorchers I and the BA Flyers.  All three teams have beaten each other, but the Rascals sit sixth courtesy of having won a game more and Scorchers I sit above the Flyers, having conceded 29 fewer runs.

Seven more weeks are left in the season as this is written, and while Knights and Scorchers II are in pole position in their divisions at the half-way point, there is a lot of softball still to play and anything is possible.


East Midlands Softball League

Wow – what a first half to the East Midlands Softball League season!

With the reformatting of the divisional structure last year, the league now produces three winners each half, and the Spring Season was an absolute belter.

Division 3

Division 3 was the tightest of all of the leagues, with three teams tied for the title on the same won-lost record of 4-6 (there are more losses than wins due to cross-divisional games against Division 2 teams).

In the case of a tie on points, league position is then decided based on head-to-head results between the tied teams, but in this case each team had won two and lost two against their opposition!

The next decider is runs conceded in the games played among the tied teams.  This showed the Redbacks conceding 73 runs, the Beavers finishing as runners-up having conceded 66 runs, and Misfits 2 winning the division with just 56 runs conceded.

Unfortunately, at the other end of the Division 3 table, the Rebels failed to put any points on the board but are planning to rectify that in the Summer League.

Division 2

In Division 2, the title went to the Leicester Royals with an 8-3 record, with all three losses to opposition from Division 1.  This secured the Royals back-to-back promotions, since they had won Division 3 in the Summer League in 2017.

However, the statisticians had to get their calculators out again to determine who got relegated from Division 2 to Division 3 after the University of Nottingham Arrows upset the form guide with a final week win over the Division 1 side Misfits.  This left the Arrows, Sheriffs and Brewers all with a 6-5 record.

Again, head-to-head couldn’t separate the teams and all of them had a 1-1 record against each other, so it came down to runs conceded.

In this case, it was heartbreak for the Arrows, who despite their heroics in beating the Misfits, had ended up conceding a total of 27 runs in their games against the Sheriffs, who wound up in third place having conceded 25 runs, while the Brewers, having conceded 13, took the runner-up spot behind the Leicester Royals.

Division 1

Proving just how competitive the EMSL is, the Division 1 also ended up with teams tied at the top. This time it was the Pyros and Misfits, both with 8-2 records.

Again, head-to-head couldn’t separate them, as the teams had split the games against each other, so it was back to runs conceded.  Despite the tight defense displayed by the Misfits in the second game the teams played, when Misfits won 14-3, it was the crucial early season ‘run fest’ for the Pyros, when they won 31-9, that decided the title, with Pyros taking it with only 23 runs conceded to 34 for the Misfits.

At the other end of the division, the newly-promoted Tigers were sent straight back down to Division 2 with their metaphorical tails between their legs, ending the Spring Season with a 2-8 record.

Looking forward

The Summer League will now run from July until mid-September with another three divisional titles to play for.  Then the divisional winners from both halves will meet at the League Play-off Day on 16 September.

Individuals are also looking to stake their claim for a place in the side that will represent the League All-Stars in the All-Stars v Division 1 Winners game that will be held on the same day.


Sefton Softball League

Despite the Crosby Vikings extending their unbeaten run to six matches at the halfway point of the season, 2018 is proving to be very competitive.

During the last three weeks of June, the Sefton Sharks were involved in three high-scoring matches where the match was won by a walk-off hit with two outs in the final inning.

First, they played a very close game against the Southport Seagulls, who have recently signed Emma Lott from the Vikings to dramatically boost their offensive and defensive capabilities.

This was followed by a very strange match where the Sharks played six innings against the Formby Fins, scoring only five runs and conceding 18 before the Sharks staged a stupendous comeback, scoring 14 runs through some very impressive base hitting to win the game 19-18.

The following week, the Sharks staged an equally impressive 14-run first inning against the St Helen’s Sabres.  This time, however, it was the Sabres that made an early fielding reshuffle which restricted the Sharks to three runs in the remaining six innings, while the Sabres scored in every inning before scoring the winner courtesy of a Tony Malcolm walk-off home run.

Nevertheless, the Sharks have been impressive scorers this season, totalling 115 runs in five matches if you ignore their one off-day against the Vikings.

The Formby Fins can take a lot away from their last two matches, where they have played very well, scoring 28 runs.  As soon as they sort out their defensive problems they will be challenging again.

Rookie sessions are going extremely well, with seven players now getting game time with the established teams.  They hope to form a new team in September that will join the league in 2019.


Publishers Softball League

As the PSL season gets deep into its second half and the games become more crucial, it’s an interesting time for the league.

This season has been memorable -- one of the most competitive and fun so far -- with the new structure of Tuesday and Wednesday divisions working well. 

It’s a very close race in the Tuesday division, with all teams capable of excellent performances.  Sage and Springer continue to be tough nuts to crack on Tuesdays.

On Wednesdays, the new Penguin Random House team is revelling in their plucky underdog status, having won their first game over the Bedford Square Bashers.

However, the Wednesday division is dominated by two legendary teams, the Griffins and the Buttheads, both of whom were undefeated when they had their first game of the season against each other. 

The game ended in a draw in the same week in which the Hachette Hawks drew against the S&S Sharks in a very close Tuesday game, proving how good the standard is in the PSL and how evenly-matched most of the teams are, both in sporting and partying ability, as the accompanying picture shows.

The PSL’s post-game pub hangouts continue to be the envy of the other London leagues, and the vibe is sure to be similar at the PSL Tournament in September.

On 30 June, the PSL All-Star team, a menagerie comprised of Bears, Hawks, Piranhas, Penguins and Superheroes and managed by League President Colin Russell, hit the field at the annual Disco Ball Tournament in Farnham Park.  Watch this space for the update on whether they managed to bring back a trophy.

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