GB Slowpitch picks up two scrimmage wins

Thu 16 Nov 2017

The Great Britain National Slowpitch Softball Team arrived in Florida from various locations across the UK last weekend to commence preparations for the 2017 WBSC Slowpitch World Cup, which runs from Thursday through Sunday, 16-19 November.

The first of a number of challenges to interfere with a smooth start to the week was a security scare and subsequent evacuation of Orlando Airport, which meant that several of the players were either delayed or diverted to other locations.  Oddly, this is the second time in three years that travel to the tournament has been hampered to some degree.

The team eventually met up at their villa in South Orlando for a briefing session with Team Manager Kellie Whitaker and Head Coach Stephen Patterson.

The next problem was that the preparatory tournament the team had been scheduled to play on Sunday was cancelled at short notice due to a conflict of leagues and jurisdiction.

But on the plus side, the team was able to secure a diamond for Sunday afternoon and pulled some strings from previous years’ networking to get in a couple of friendly scrimmage games.

Two wins​

Team GB opened their 2017 campaign with two wins from these scrimmages.  Both games allowed Stephen Patterson to see his team perform for the first time together.

In Game 1, GB put on a hitting barrage to start the game, scoring five runs and batting around the line-up in each of the first two innings, while GB debutant pitcher Mark Bowman kept the challenge team at bay for the majority of the game.

Kirstie Leach and Kelvin Harrison each had three hits, while Manny Estevez, Chris Yoxall, Hannah Pitman, Amy Rice and Mark Bowman also had multi-hit games.  There was also some power on show, with Kelvin Harrison and Chris Yoxall each hitting home runs and Amy Rice adding a triple.  The final score in the opener was 13-2.

In Game 2, GB’s starting pitcher, Bristol-based David Grey, held the opposition to a single run in the top of the first inning before GB had another fast start, with seven players reaching base in the bottom of the first, good for five runs.

The teams exchanged runs over the next few innings, with GB extending its lead to 11-5, mainly thanks to consecutive hits by Jon Reynolds, Kim Miller, Chris Yoxall, Ruth Macintosh, Manny Estevez and Tasha Humphris.

The foot came off the pedal a bit in the later innings, but it was still a comfortable enough victory for Great Britain.  Matt Tomlin and Kim Miller each got off the mark with two hits and Manny Estevez added three doubles from the bottom of the order.

Over the course of the afternoon every player got at least one hit and was able to gain confidence from the games.

Looking ahead

GB Captain Claude Snape said: “It hasn’t been an ideal start but we’ve made the best of it and had some really useful early game time together to cement the team.  Strong performances bode well for the tournament and there’s a great team dynamic already.”

After those games on Sunday, the team had scheduled a number of training sessions for the first part of the week and a doubleheader on Tuesday night to keep preparations on track before the start of the tournament.  Stephen Patterson had made it clear to the team that exposure to night games “under the lights” is an important part of acclimatising to potential conditions of competition play.

Seven teams will compete for the title at the 2017 World Cup: Bulgaria, Bahamas, Canada, Curacao, Turks & Caicos Islands, the USA and Great Britain.

Team GB play three games on Thursday against Bulgaria, the USA, and Curacao.

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