BSF Leagues Season Preview: May 2018

Thu 10 May 2018

The 2018 season is about to begin – or has already begun -- for most BSF slowpitch softball leagues around the country.  Below are season previews from some of the top leagues.

 

SEFTON SOFTBALL LEAGUE

2018 begins with the Sefton Softball League relocating to what will hopefully become a permanent home at Play Football North in Thornton, Liverpool.  This venue, with space for up to four pitches, an on-site bar and changing rooms, offers a lot of potential for the development of the league for years to come.

All five teams have seen additions to their playing rosters, and with the introduction of beginners’ softball sessions for both adults and juniors running alongside the league, we are hoping to add a sixth team in the very near future.

Reigning champions Crosby Vikings will face a tough challenge trying to retain the league title for the fourth time this season after losing GB Under-19 Men’s Fastpitch Team player Andy Lott, who has moved on to become the new captain of the Southport Seagulls.

This addition, along with three other new faces, should give the Seagulls’ hopes this season a significant boost.

The 2017 runner-up, St Helen’s Sabres, will look to build on their impressive progress last season, in which they narrowly missed out on their first title in a tense head-to-head match-up in the final game of the season against the eventual winners Crosby Vikings.

The Sefton Sharks have added to their squad again this season, and will be hoping to finally transform their Manchester League form into success in the Sefton League.

Last season’s bottom team, Formby Fins, have made some important pre-season signings, including an experienced pitcher, and are expected to substantially increase the numbers in their win column this time around.

Further information can be found on our website at www.seftonsoftball.com, or on social media: facebook,com/seftonsoftball and @seftonsoftball on Twitter and Instagram.

 

MILTON KEYNES SOFTBALL LEAGUE

The Milton Keynes Softball League (MKSL) returns in 2018 for its third year.

After a very successful indoor season, a large number of new players have realised how fantastic softball is and joined the club, allowing a fifth MK team to be created – the MK Oddsox.  Don’t let their name fool you into thinking they’re a motley crew; they’re a mix of experience and beginners who boast huge potential.  Co-captains Tilly Jones and Paul Costello have been whipping the rest of the Oddsox into shape: Jarrod Praetorius, Tim Welch, Dave Lovell, John Hall, Yolanda Potter, Marcie Gray, Rachel Burgess and Brad Davidson.

Returning this year are the Homerun Hornets, Willow Lakers, DDs, Roundabout Rhinos and neighbours Towcester Tigers and Northants Praetorians.

All teams have welcomed new faces, with everyone out to swat the Hornets after their playoff triumphs in 2016 and 2017.

The Willow Lakers are awash with enthusiasm going into 2018 after welcoming new players Robert Welch and Matt Barber.

DDs have brought in several new players, including Nick Perkins, Tom Driver, Beth Peters, Laura Wicks, Trevor Burgess and Chris Benton.

Rhinos, building on their success in topping the 2017 league standings in their inaugural season, will be hoping that Boris Kegne and Jamie Armes can help them continue their charge towards the title.

The Hornets welcome new players Jules Peck and Peter Brooks, hoping to swarm the league with more playoff success.

The Praetorians look ready to do battle with whoever they face, building on a good first season with many players who were new to softball last year and who now have that year of experience under their belt.

The Tigers, who have been part of the MKSL since the beginning, have continued to roar and will be hoping for another successful year in 2018 after narrowly missing out on a playoff final spot in 2017.

Whatever happens, everyone is looking forward to another year of great softball and to welcoming many new players to the sport.  The MKSL wants to again thank their coaches, captains and umpires for making it all happen.

 

PUBLISHERS’ SOFTBALL LEAGUE

Now in its 33rd year, the PSL begins the 2018 season with a new president, Colin Russell.  Colin takes over the mantle from PSL legend Ross Whamond, who retired at the end of the 2017 season.

A new league committee has also formed, and we’re also pleased to welcome a newly-formed team from the UK’s largest publishing company, Penguin Random House.  The legacy of previous Penguin and Random House teams will weigh heavy upon them!  Will they end up against industry rivals the Hachette Hawks in this year’s brand new PSL World Series? Only time will tell.

The GDS Griffins are still the team to beat in the PSL, defending a fantastic showing in both the regular season and the PSL tournament in 2018, second only to the ever-excellent Sage Superheroes.  Newer teams will be training hard to give the longer-standing squads a run for their money, and the spirit of the PSL is stronger than ever.  Everyone is looking forward to having a fun and relaxed time and playing some good softball on beautiful Primrose Hill.

The PSL also intends to field its All-Star Team at a number of tournaments this year after a successful debut at the Hit & Run Tournament in Maidenhead last year.  So watch out for those hot shots in a tournament near you!

You can keep up with the PSL on Twitter at http://twitter.com/pslsoftball and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Publishing-Softball-League-114221618653606/.

 

GREATER LONDON SOFTBALL MIXED LEAGUE

The GLSML now has three Majors Divisions and four Minors Divisions, and below are some notes on the season prospects for every one of their 53 teams!
 

GLSML Majors
 

MAJORS DIVISION 1

Coyotes – This veteran team held on in a tough top division in 2017, and will be looking to improve on last year's fifth-place finish.  Will their Boston Manor home pitch advantage and steady core of players help them in 2018?

LNZ – This team, having been in the top division of London softball since 2003, will be moving back home to Finsbury Park in 2018.  Sadly, after 25 years of quality management, the Arsene Wenger of LNZ, Ross Smith, is stepping down, but this tough team will be looking to equal or better their second-place finish from 2017.

Raiders Gold – The historic top of the Raiders pile makes a triumphant return to the top division for the first time since 2015 after a first-place finish in Majors 2 last season.  They will be looking to redefine their Division 1 fortunes, since in their three previous stints in the top flight (2011, 2013, 2015) they failed to prevent relegation.  The 2015 season was particularly unlucky, with numerous walk-off wins for their opponents.  Winning the close games will likely be the difference between them still being in Division 1 in 2019.

Mescalitos – The ever-talented Mescies will be looking to improve on their third-place finish in 2017.  The big question for Mescalitos is how they will deal with the departure of Britain's self-styled greatest-ever pitcher, Perry Smith.  Always a perennial threat for the title, they will need to find stability on the mound to complement their elite defense and potent offense.  They have several capable players who can pitch, so they’ll need to ensure they have depth in other key positions. 

Ninos -- Mezcalitos Ninos have proven they can win (a coin toss) and have been promoted to Majors 1 after last year's joint second-place Majors 2 finish.  The team has gained a few new faces, but will have to wait 14 years or so before most can take the field (congrats KP, Kelly and Michael & Jen).  The team is hoping to sneak in a few victories, and the Mescalitos v Mezcalitos derbies on 10 May and 26 June will be ones to watch.

Muppets – The Muppets will be looking to improve on their sixth-place finish in 2017.  This team is a perennial contender and on their day are second to none.  As always, roster depth and availability will be critical for them.  As the 'creche' grows, rumours are that their strong core of players may be dwindling.  Will they manage to come out in strength for 14 games?

Mi6 – This team is going to need a bigger trophy cabinet if they keep up their current form.  The back-to-back GLSML Majors 1 champs will be the team that everyone is looking to gun down in 2018.  Having won the GLSML’s best offense and defense awards on the back of a 13-1 season, plus a tourney win in Edinburgh’s Festiball, MI6 were given the BSF’s ‘President’s Club Award’ for competitive achievement at this year’s BSF AGM.  All signs indicate the Sixers will carry on their 2017 form, with the team fully intact and having gained big-hitting leftie in Zac Moran for the first half of the season.  With that said, while it’s hard to get to the top, but it’s harder to stay there….

SPAM -- Every year that SPAM stays in Division 1, they manage to thicken out their talent.  They regularly take fixtures against division favourites, and will be the measuring stick for the Division 1 debutantes.  Sticklers for doing the fundamentals right, they made a significant jump in the standings last year and the fruits of their rebuild are starting to ripen.  Can they improve on their fourth-place finish last year and take the next step? 
 

MAJORS DIVISION 2

BBG – After an uncharacteristic dip to Majors 3 in 2016, BBG finished a respectable fifth in Majors 2 in 2017.  As with all teams with longevity in the league, BBG could struggle with a shallow roster, but perhaps they have managed to re-load in the off-season?  If last season in Division 2 taught them anything, it’s that the difference between promotion and relegation can be razor thin.

Dazzlers – After winning Majors 3 in 2017, the Dazzlers find themselves in a tough Majors 2 in 2018.  In their 15 seasons at Finsbury Park, the team has seen an endless yo-yo ride of promotions and relegations, and the mind-bending gentrification of their local, The Finsbury.  This year, the team makes a dramatic return to the rarefied heights of Majors Division 2, with their main goals for 2018 including executing the perfect rundown play and finally winning a pub quiz.

Fuzzy Ducks (a.k.a. ‘Fluffy Ducks’) – After a meteoric rise to the top division, the Ducks had a challenging 2017, finishing seventh in Division 1 with a 4-10 record (though they did manage to do what no other team could, and win against eventual division champs Mi6).   After temporarily migrating to the Czech Republic for some pre-season practice, this ‘Fuzzy Flock’ is in fine form and will hope to start the season strongly in a bid to get back up to Majors 1.  This high-flying team will be ones to watch in 2018.

Meteors Purple -- Meteors Purple had a tough 0-14 season in Majors 1 last year, and are hoping to regain their previous winning form in Majors 2 this year.  While maintaining a very positive spirit throughout the difficult 2017 campaign, they’ll likely be very happy to sink their teeth into the challenges Division 2 has to offer.  The team has generally recruited well and will no doubt make an impact in the 2018 narrative for the division.

Meteors Black – After a solid fourth place in Majors 2 in 2017, Meteors Black have a lot to look forward to in 2018, including competing in the “Meteors Burple” derby as part of their club's 30th birthday celebration.  Will losing key player Jan Galvez halfway through the season bring them down, or will Meteors Black power though?  It could prove to be a season of two halves for Ross Smart’s team, who will want to improve on their near promotion/relegation finish in 2017. 

Odd Sox -- Fact: no team has had a longer continuous run in Division 2 without being promoted, getting relegated or folding than the Odd Sox.  The team has played six (6!) must-win relegation games in the last three seasons and has won them all by a combined margin of roughly six runs.  So if you like spine-tingling, high-stakes, edge-of-your-seat excitement, the Odd Sox are a team to watch.  It's been an eventful offseason for them, with two brand-spanking-new babies, one more on the way, and two broken bones.  The Odd Sox captain will be on the edge of his seat figuring out if he can field a team each week.  But history is on the side of the Odd Sox Nation!

PIs – A toss of a coin kept The Pis in Majors 2 last year, after they finished tied with the Mezcalitos Ninos.  The PIs are a veteran team that typically looks to develop new/young players, and their core has remained consistent for years.  A team that’s definitely a threat with their full-strength side on the field, can they manage to find a place back in the top division in 2018?

The Mob – This scrappy team's promotion to Majors 2 sees them at the highest position they've achieved in their 20-year history.  Following the loss of their (occasionally rebellious) shortstop, the team is hoping that they will be able to stay afloat in 2018.  The Mob has ridden a wave of success over the past five seasons, having been promoted three times since 2013 and not tasted relegation within that window.  Can The Mob hang on, or will they be back in Majors 3 with the majority of the John Archer Way crew in 2019?


MAJORS DIVISION 3

Base Invaders -- After finishing third and fourth the last two seasons in Majors 3, this hard-playing, hard-drinking team engaged in some deft off-season acquisitions, bringing in four new players.  Notably, the arrival of James ‘Peg’ Wilkins amongst others should see the Base Invaders sneak up on a few teams this season.  They’ve been contenders until the last game of the season every time, and should be seen as a key match-up for all their opponents in 2018.

Chargers – This consistent team has finished mid-table in Division 3 almost every year since 2014.  Chargers are a solid team, known for their steady fielding and hitting.  They benefit from the Boston Manor home pitch advantage, which can sometimes cause away teams to struggle to field a team.  Will this steady team of veterans maintain the status quo in 2018?

Cheetahs – A joint seventh-place finish with Meteors Red in Majors 3 was good enough for the Cheetahs to stay in the Majors for the 2018 season. This team seemed to be hitting its stride in getting back to Division 3 during the past couple of seasons.  Will they be able to hold on in this incredibly tough division -- or even continue with their progress up the ranks? 

Comets Orange – After downsizing their club in the last few years, and merging with Comers Homers, Comets Orange have faced the usual personnel struggles at the start of this season. This will likely be the narrative for their season – will they manage to rise above their 2017 relegation in 2018?

Raiders Blue – Raiders Blue have ‘yo-yo’ed back and forth between Majors 3 and 2 since 2009, and a 5-9-0 finish in Majors 2 in 2017 sent them back down to Majors 3 for the upcoming season.  Victims of the ‘Great Division 2 Clustermess of 2017’, Raiders Blue have incredible roster depth due to the size of their club, which should keep them competitive in all 14 games.  They are definitely a top contender for promotion back to Majors 2 for 2019.

Mouserat (a.k.a Mooserub / Radwagon et al) – Mouserat has finally joined the ranks of Majors teams, after several years of (almost) undefeated seasons.  Having ridden a similar wave of perpetual promotions as the Fuzzy Ducks, they will add to the talent level of this already talented division and come in as genuine title contenders.  Will their bats, gloves (and livers) be up to the task, or will these mice finally meet their match?   One thing's for sure – all eyes will be on them in 2018.

Pirates – The Pirates’ arrival in the Majors after a second-place finish in Minors 1 last year could mark a turning point for the team.  After toppling the mighty Mouserat's winning streak last season, the Pirates could be a team to watch in 2018.  With all but four of their fixtures at Wandsworth Common, the Pirates will enjoy home pitch advantage throughout the season.  Now the flagship of a three-team softball club, their depth and fun-loving spirit make them an intriguing case for promotion. 

Thundercats – After a 9-5-0 third place finish in Majors Division 3 last year, the Thundercats might struggle after the loss of one of their key players, big-hitting Sam Allen.   Saying that, they’ve managed to keep a solid crew of men and women over the years that have played together for a while.  This team chemistry will be critical to their success in 2018.


GLSML MINORS 
 

MINORS DIVISION 1

Always a notoriously difficult division from which to escape, Minors 1 will be hotly contested, with the two relegated teams, Meteors Red and Richmond Swingers, hoping for a speedy return to the Majors.  At the same time, the two promoted teams, Tecumsehs and Tornadoes, will be hoping to make an impact on the pinnacle of Minors competition in the GLSML.  Let’s have a look at the runners and riders in the 2018 Minors 1 Division.


Badgers
Home Ground:  Colliers Wood
Position last year:  6th

Following a season-long flirtation with the drop, Badgers will hope to be looking upwards rather than down this season, and a solid top-half finish could well be on the cards.


London Raiders Red
Home Ground:  Wandsworth Common Bellevue Road
Position last year:  3rd

Narrowly missing out on promotion in 2017 can only have spurred Raiders Red on during the off-season.  With their famous recruitment machine kicking into overdrive, they have to be considered contenders for promotion this time around.


Meteors Red
Home Ground:  Blackhorse Road
Position last year:  6th in Majors Division 3 and relegated

With disappointment at the manner of their demise last season behind them, Meteors Red will be looking to shower opposing outfielders with home runs this year to make their stay in the Minors a brief (albeit pleasant) one.


Oblivion
Home Ground:  Regents Park
Position last year:  4th

A solid mid-table effort last season is a sound base on which to build this time around.  A few key player acquisitions and some intense pre-season training could mean that Oblivion is what every other team in the league is looking at when they face them.


Richmond Swingers
Home Ground:  Old Deer Park, Richmond
Position last year:  8th in Majors Division 3 and relegated

The disappointment of relegation is always tough, but it’s how the club responds that is important.  If they can add some power to their offense to lead an upswing in form, they will have to be considered major contenders for a return to the Majors.
 

Tecumsehs
Home Ground:  Clissold Park
Position last year:  2nd in Minors Division 2 and promoted

Finishing as runner-up in the very competitive Minors Division 2 last year proves that the Tecumsehs know how to win, but do they have enough in the tank to stay in Minors 1?  Only time will tell, but if they can score runs like they did last season they certainly have a chance.


The Voodoos
Home Ground:  Parliament Hill
Position last year:  5th

Just on the wrong side of a .500 season last year, the Voodoos will be hoping that they can bring some magic to the Minors 1 party this term and lift themselves into the promotion equation.


Tornadoes
Home Ground:  Wandsworth Common John Archer way
Position last year:  1st in Minors Division 2 and promoted

Reigning and runaway Minors 2 champions in 2017, in 2018 the Tornadoes will be planning to breeze through the competition and push for two consecutive promotions.


MINORS DIVISION 2

Some say this is the most competitive division in the whole of the GLSML; others say it depends on which teams are in it.  If biggest means best then this is the division to watch -- crammed full with nine teams hoping to make it one step closer to the Majors.  The promoted sides (Golden Sombreros and Bat to the Future) will be looking to prove that they belong and the Knights will want to wipe out the memory of their 0-14 record in 2017.


Base Jumpers
Home Ground:  Regents Park
Position last year:  7th in Minors Division 1 and relegated

It was a cruel way to go, but their one-point deduction cost them the chance to stay in Minors 1 last term and this season they will be hoping that they don’t free fall through the division.  Solid both offensively and defensively, they will be a tough nut to crack in 2018.


Bat to the Future
Home Ground:  Clissold Park
Position last year:  2nd in Minors 3 and promoted

Bat to the Future are back!  Following a strong off-season working on their performance, the team is looking to set new Personal Bests for drinking and having fun, ideally whilst also not getting relegated.


Disco Inferno
Home Ground:  Clissold Park
Position last year:  4th

Safely entrenched in the upper echelons of Minors 2 last season, Disco will be hoping to continue their year-on-year improvement and compete for the title.


Game of Throws
Home Ground:  Wandsworth Common Bellevue Road
Position last year:  3rd

Now that winter has come and gone, Throws will be hoping not to be left out in the cold when the league shakes down this season.  The warlocks from south of the river will be determined to throw shade on their opponents this season and be celebrating promotion when next winter comes.


Golden Sombreros
Home Ground:  Blackhorse Road
Position last year:  1st in Minors Division 3 and promoted

The champions of Minors 3 and social media last year, Sombreros have been practising intensively over the off-season to ensure that they are no one-season wonders, with their Canadian contingent looking particularly fearsome.  The loss of their number one (and only) pitcher may have been considered a body blow, but luckily his replacement works at a brewery so it’s free beers all round!


Knights
Home Ground:  Finsbury Park
Position last year:  8th in Minors 1 and relegated

The Knights are more likely to be closing the bar than closing in on Division 1, but winning the Indoor Rec league was the perfect way to kick off the outdoor season!


London Tigers
Home Ground:  Regents Park
Position last year:  6th

Part of the epic three-team scrap to escape the trap door last season, the Tigers are hoping to change their stripes this season and be at the other end of the division, stalking the top teams and ready to pounce when they get the chance.


Pimlico Buccaneers
Home Ground:  Colliers Wood
Position last year:  8th

The Buccaneers had a narrow escape from sinking into Minors 3 last season and are hoping for much more this year.  With a flair for the dramatic and the wind in their sails, they will be plotting a course for the promised land of Minors 1 this time around.


Soft Boiled
Home Ground:  Blackhorse Road
Position last year:  5th

Soft Boiled were comfortably over .500 last year with a very impressive run-scoring pedigree.  Is this the year that they scramble the opposition and poach that promotion spot?  It’ll take more than three minutes to find out but when the timer runs out on the 2018 season you can expect them to be in the running.


MINORS DIVISION 3

League expansion means that this is no longer the basement division and as such there are battles at both ends of the division that promise to go right down to the wire.  With as many as five teams leaving this division, either up or down, every match really matters, and a run here or there could be the difference between promotion and relegation.


High Voltage
Home Ground:  Blackhorse Road
Position last year:  5th

This young team had a strong debut year in 2017.  Outstanding pitching and fielding were the secrets to their success and this year they will want to crank up the power on their offense to enable them to compete at the top of the division.  Having seen them in training, they look like legitimate challengers for the title.


Knight Sliders
Home Ground:  Finsbury Park
Position last year:  8th in Minors 2 and relegated

The titanic three-way struggle to avoid the drop from Minors 2 ended with Knight Sliders falling on their sword.  Some personnel changes and a revamped training regime should ensure that they are back on the horse this year and ready to joust their way back to Minors 2.


London Raiders Green
Home Ground:  Colliers Wood
Position last year:  9th in Minors 2 and relegated

It wasn’t their year last year, but with the Raiders’ fabled farm system and recruitment reach they should be back to their best this time around, with some fresh faces and renewed vigour.  Win, lose or draw, they’re always in excellent form in the pub after the game.


Mescalitos Banditos
Home Ground:  JFS Kingsbury
Position last year:  4th

This was the second-best Mexican-themed team in the division in 2017.  A strong effort last season meant that they were always on the fringes of the promotion battle in spite of injury and illness taking their toll.  All of that is behind them now and this season they are intent on a return to a higher level.


The Jets
Home Ground:  Regents Park
Position last year:  6th

Coming off the back of the best season in team history in 2017, the Jets’ upward flight path looks set to continue in 2018 and this could be the year that they really take off and head for the sky.


The Mafia
Home Ground:  Wandsworth Common John Archer Way
Position last year:  3rd

Missing out on promotion by a single point last season had to hurt and this season you wouldn’t want to bet against them taking out a hit or two on the opposition.  One thing is for sure: you won’t find these guys sleeping with the fishes as they seek to avenge last year’s disappointment.


MINORS DIVISION 4

The six teams competing in the 2018 Minors 4 division will forever have the proud distinction to be founder members.  Only two of the teams have any GLSML history.  The other four are playing here for the first time.  Who knows if one of these teams will be the 2024 Majors 1 champion?  It could happen -- and remember that you heard it here first.


Beavers
Home Ground:  Clissold Park
Position last year:  N/A

Little is known about the Beavers other than they are new and play at Clissold Park.  They could well be a surprise package this season.


Brew Jays
Home Ground:  Finsbury Park
Position last year:  N/A

Little is known about the Brew Jays other than they are new and play at Wandsworth Common. One of the team founders may be from Toronto.  They could well be a surprise package this season.


BYOB
Home Ground:  Colliers Wood
Position last year:  N/A

Little is known about BYOB other than they are new and play at Wandsworth Common.  The continuation of the beer-themed team names is very welcome as long as they live up to it.  They could well be a surprise package this season.


London Raiders Orange
Home Ground:  JFS Kingsbury
Position last year:  7th in Minors 3 and relegated

The final team from the softballing behemoth that is the London Raiders, they will be wanting to put last season behind them and go in search of promotion back to Minors 3.


Meteors Green
Home Ground:  Regents Park
Position last year:  N/A

Little is known about Meteors Green other than they are new and play in Regents Park.  They will be hoping to carry on the proud tradition that comes with the Meteors name.  They could well be a surprise package this season.


Pimlico Parrots
Home Ground:  Wandsworth Common John Archer Way
Position last year:  9th in Minors 3 and relegated

Known as one of the loudest teams in the league despite having little to squawk about last season, you can be sure that the Parrots will be aiming to fly high in the division this season.

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