BSF Leagues Round-up: September 2017

Wed 6 Sep 2017

The 2017 season is ending or has come to an end for most slowpitch softball leagues around the country.  Below are reports on what’s been happening in some of these leagues during the latter part of the season.

 

Sefton Softball League

There were big changes in the Sefton Softball League in 2017.

The first change was our relocation to the Holy Family High School, which provided greater visibility from a busy road and so greater opportunity for recruitment.  This seemed to work, with the introduction of 16 new players during the season.

Second, the hugely popular Sefton Shield Tournament was brought forward from September to May and moved to a new location in Childwall.  This year’s tournament featured 14 teams, including three higher-grade teams that were handicapped by providing their opponents with a runner on second base at the start of each inning.  This handicap seemed to work -- so much so that Sefton Softball’s Crosby Vikings were able to upset the odds, defeating a very strong “Leedschester” team featuring many NSL players and running the eventual champions Travelling Dodgers very close in the Cup final.

In the Plate final, Manchester Meerkats made it a clean sweep for the Manchester teams, defeating the Manchester Tigers in a closely-fought game.

In the league, there were some dramatic changes in fortunes. 

The 2016 runners-up, Formby Fins, who lost out on the final day of the season, had a substantial change in personnel that resulted in them finishing bottom of the table this time around, changing places with the dramatically improved St Helen’s Sabres.

The Sabres ran the Crosby Vikings closest in a hard-fought season, but ultimately the Vikings held on to their title after a nail-biting match up against the Sabres in the penultimate week of the season.  The most impressive factor in the turnaround for the Sabres was that they achieved this feat without the addition of any new players, proving that a little effort in attending training over the winter can produce significant improvements.

Due to the success of the Vikings in winning the Bronze title at the BSF National Championships in 2016, the Sefton Softball League was represented by both the 2016 champions and runners-up at the 2017 League Nationals.

The Formby Fins produced some good results until they eventually fell in the Bronze quarter-finals.

The Crosby Vikings, targeting Silver after their victory in Bronze the year before, surpassed all expectations by qualifying for the Gold tournament and almost defeating the eventual champions Fuzzy Ducks before succumbing to the runner-up Pyros in the quarter-finals.

With ambitious plans to train a number of young coaches and offer beginners’ sessions to young people in schools and colleges, the future looks bright for softball in the Merseyside area.

Anyone interested in joining, whether beginner or experienced, should contact us at www.seftonsoftball.com, @seftonsoftball, Facebook.com/Seftonsoftball or look for us on Instagram.

 

Publishing Softball League

Division 1 was won by the GDS Griffins, who have now won the division  two years on the trot.  Runners-up were the Piranhas.

In Division 2, the Buttheads were the champions and the runners-up were Springer Sluggers.  This was a closely fought division, with all to play for during the last week of fixtures.

The Publishers League inducted Gabor Erdos, Mike Messam, Karen Hartley and Tanja Clarke into its Hall of fame this season, all for making a major contribution to the league over a number of years.

The Piranhas won the competition for the best team T-shirt.

 

Bristol Softball Association​

Championships and promotion places in the Bristol Softball League were all tied up during the last week of the season.  When the dust had settled, the results were as follows:

Division 3

The student team from Archway School were the runaway winners in Division 3, an outstanding performance for their first year in the league.  The leam was led by former GB Slowpitch Team Head Coach Mark Saunders, and together with a very forward-thinking Archway School staff, they produced a large slice of the future of local softball.  Look out Division 2 in 2018!

Division 2

The Division 2 championship title had to be decided by a playoff between the Greasy Mitts and the evergreen Grandslammers.  At one point it could easily have been up to four teams needing to play off due to fixture congestion and a series of very tight games.  But the Grandslammers  prevailed and are looking forward to a return to the top division in 2018.

Division 1

The top division in Bristol is extremely competitive, with the top four teams often taking games from each other.  This year, it came down to the two favourites, the Jets and the Sliders, to slug it out for the title.

After a two-run loss in the first game, the Jets came back to record a big win over the Sliders in the return fixture, and so the Jets were champions again after a two-year break.

The Bristol Charity Shield event on 16 September will feature the Jets against an all-division All-Star team in aid of the winners’ chosen charity.  Money raised will be through bar and BBQ takings, a raffle, and on-field competitions such as most accurate throw, best pitcher, biggest hitter and fastest baserunner.

There will also be a number of important relegation playoff games for Divisions 1 and 2, all followed by the League Awards ceremony at the Abbots Leigh Cricket Club.

 

Windsor & Maidenhead Softball League

Farnham Phoenix retained the Division 1 title in the most dramatic fashion in the final game of the season, and the Wildcats returned to Division 1 after a two-year absence.

Division 2​

The race for promotion from Division 2 was a four-horse race featuring the Wildcats, RG Blue Sox, Bracknell Scorchers and TV Rattlesnakes.  After the first month of the season, it looked like the unbeaten Scorchers were going to take the division by storm.  The Wildcats had lost 23-1 to the Rattlesnakes in Week 2 and the inconsistency that had plagued them last year seemed to be back.

But in the end, that turned out to be the Wildcats’ only defeat, and it sparked a run that took them to the top of the table by mid-June after beating the Scorchers, a position they would not relinquish for the rest of the season.

The Rattlesnakes and Blue Sox tried to keep place, but the challengers kept beating each other, which simply played into the Wildcats’ hands.  The Wildcats won promotion by eight points, with the Blue Sox, Scorchers and TV Rattlesnakes all ending the season tied on 32 points each.

Next season will be just as interesting in Division 2, with so many closely-matched teams.

Division 1​

Division 1 ended on the most dramatic final play you could imagine.

Windsor Knights and Farnham Phoenix had been swapping the lead all season.  The Knights lost only lost two games, both to Phoenix, while Phoenix lost only two games, one to the RG Blue Sox and the other to the BA jets.

The Jets, playing out of the Imperial College Heston Venue for the last time, had a slow start to the season but were the closest challengers to the top two and in the end would have the biggest say on the title race. 

With rain causing chaos with fixtures, the final games of the year were pushed into mid-August and had Phoenix playing at TV Typhoons while the Jets played the Knights. The Knights knew a win would give them the title regardless of the Phoenix result.

Phoenix won their game and had to wait on the result of the Jets and Knights.

That game went all the way to the wire in fading light, and on the final play of the final inning, with the score tied at 7-7, no outs and the winning run for the Knights on second base, the Jets pulled off a triple play to end the game  and earn a draw, which handed the title to Phoenix.

The result secured third place for the Jets, but was a bitter blow to the Knights, who came within one hit of the title.

At the bottom, TV Tornados and the promoted teams from 2016, TV Typhoons and Maidenhead Rebels, fought it out to decide who would stay in Division 1 for next year.  With each team beating the other during the season, it came down to who else could they beat.

In the end, Typhoons and Rebels survived and sent TV Tornados down to Division 2 for 2018.

 

Cardiff Softball League​

The Hammers were crowned Cardiff League Division 1 champions for 2017.  The team went undefeated for the season, winning all 12 of their league games.

Strong fielding was the key to the Hammers’ success, highlighted by their 17-2 victory over Cardiff Chaos in Week 3 of the second phase, which, coupled with the Pontcanna Pirates' 16-8 defeat of the Valley Wet Socks, ensured the Hammers would be champions for the first time in their history.

A closely-fought Division 2 race went down to the final week, with three of the four teams still in with a chance of taking the title.  It was the Red Sox who emerged the winners, comfortably defeating the Sentinels 20-4, while the Giants lost a nail-biter by one run to the Teirw'r Taf.

It was a notable turnaround for the Red Sox, who, with lots of first-year players, had started the season with five losses in a row.  But they then won six of their last nine games to top the division.

 

East Midlands Softball League​

The EMSL returned to a three-division format at the start of the 2017 season, but continued to run the league in two separate seasons -- Spring and Summer -- with promotion and relegation between the divisions.

The Summer season started, as it always does, with the league saying 'adios' to our two university teams, with the students going back to their home towns.

This left four teams in Division 1, four in Division 2 and three in Division 3.  Given that there are small numbers in each division, and to ensure the divisions don't stagnate, the top and bottom divisions play the teams in their own grouping twice, but they also play a cross-divisional game against each of the four teams in Division 2 as well.

Division 3​

The Leicester Royals have been crowned Division 3 champions, deservedly taking the title with a 5-3 record.  The Royals beat both of their opponents in their own division (Rebels and Pulse) twice, though the Rebels took them to an eighth-inning decider in the final weekend of the season, which Royals won 14-13.

The Royals have also shown their potential to teams in Division 2, beating the Redbacks while losing by only one run to Beavers.  And in the game against Brewers (only just relegated from Division 1), they held their own before narrowly losing 15-12.  So the Royals will look forward to 2018 with a healthy dose of optimism.

With Rebels beating Pulse in their latest meeting, both teams are tied on 1-6 records with just one game to play.

Division 2

In the middle tier the Beavers (3-7) have already completed their games.

Having been promoted from Division 3, this was always going to be a testing Summer season for them, but while  they lost all of their games to their Division 1 and 2 opponents, they did win all of their games against lower-level opposition, so it’s the Redbacks (2-5) who find themselves in the relegation spot with three games to go.

If Redbacks win one of those games it will be the Beavers who will return to Division 3 on the basis of the two teams' head-to-head record.

At the other end of the table, Tigers and Brewers, both 5-3, are neck-and-neck after their latest encounter, but the Tigers have a slight edge on the head-to-head record.  This is after the Brewers, who were probably pre-game favourites, suffered from a couple of last minute dropouts on the day and ended up playing with only eight players and going down 23-4.

Both teams still have a Division 1 opponent to play, with the Tigers also scheduled to play the Redbacks (Division 2) while the Brewers will complete their league schedule against Rebels from Division 3.

Division 1

While there are still some games to play, things are already decided in Division 1, with the Pyros (9-0) taking the Summer league title with a game in hand, following up on their Spring title, after Pyros Juniors (6-2) lost a recent game to Misfits.

Misfits (5-4) improved their chances of avoiding relegation with their win over Pyros Juniors, while the Sheriffs were forced to forfeit against the Pyros on the same night, leaving them at 2-5 with three games to go.  This leaves the Sheriffs needing to win all of their remaining fixtures to have any chance of staying up.

Nationals playoff games

With the Pyros winning both the Spring and Summer leagues, they have already qualified for next year's National Championships.

In the other two divisions, a playoff awaits between the winners of the Spring and Summer leagues, with these games already scheduled for 'Playoff Day' on Sunday 17 September.

Misfits will take on the Division 2 Summer winner (still to be decided), and Beavers will face the Leicester Royals to confirm the overall champion for Division 3 and see who has the honour of representing the EMSL at next year's League Nationals.

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