GB Slowpitch ready for the Page Playoffs

Sat 15 Jul 2017

By Chelsie Robison

Sofia, Bulgaria: 15 July – Having finished pool play at the 2017 European Slowpitch Championship undefeated with a 10-0 record, the GB Slowpitch Team will now see today’s Page Playoffs as the last remaining obstacle to an 11th straight European gold medal.

On Friday, the team finished their round-robin games with a 17-2 win over Ireland and a 23-1 rout of Slovenia.  Never mind the runs scored; look at the defense.  In their last four games, GB has allowed the opposition exactly eight runs.  That would be good for fastpitch; for slowpitch, it borders on awesome.

Overall, in the 10 round-robin games played, GB has outscored the opposition by 211 runs to 66, an average margin of 21-7.

Final round-robin standings, with the top four teams going to the Page Playoffs, were:

Great Britain (10-0)
Slovenia (6-4)
Ireland (5-5)
Germany (5-5)
Czech Republic (2-8)
Bulgaria (2-8)

Page Playoffs​

At 2.00 pm on Saturday, in the middle of the four Page Playoff games, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria will play for fifth place.

Before that, at 10.00 am, Ireland and Germany will play, with the loser finishing fourth and the winner guaranteed the bronze medal and still alive in the competition.

Then GB and Slovenia will play at noon, with the winner going straight to the 6.00 pm final and the loser having to play the Germany v Ireland winner to determine the other finalist.

It should be a long and exciting day of softball, but no one is going to bet against GB being the last team standing.

First, let’s look back at Friday’s final two pool games.

GB v Ireland

It was clear that GB were guaranteed the top spot in the pool no matter what happened on Friday, but the players were all gunning for an undefeated record, so the team came out with all guns blazing against Ireland.

However, Ireland didn't put up much of a fight, only getting six hits and two runs.  The final score was 17-2, bringing the mercy rule into play after five innings.

But that may have been understandable after GB scored 13 runs in the bottom of the first inning.  Hits came from everywhere, but the key blows were struck by Kirstie Leach and Ed Watkinson.

Ireland continued to be flat, but did put a run on the board in the top of the second inning against GB pitcher Brad Gilmour on hits from Simon Lewis and Norma McIntire plus an error.

In the top of the third inning, Ireland began to look defeated as they managed only a single, and GB went looking for insurance runs, if any were needed, in the bottom of the frame.

Chris Yoxall and Kim Dubovec Miller had base hits to left field and both came in on Ed Watkinson’s tactical two-base hit to right field.  Ed then scored on Hannah Pitman’s sacrifice fly to left field and the score was now 16-1.

Neither team scored in the fourth inning, and going into the top of the fifth GB had to defend their lead if they wanted an early win in their first game of the day.  However, errors in the field put them under pressure and the Irish scored a run on an overthrow.  So GB needed to get at least one in the bottom of the inning to bring the game to an end.

With one out, Ed Watkinson came up to bat, and being the reliable hitter he is, got on base with a cracking double to right field that put him  in scoring position.

Hannah Pitman came up next and pulled a pitch down third base line.  Senan Dormer picked the ball, but then threw wildly past first base, and Ed scored on the error to end the game.

GB had their ninth straight win, setting them up nicely for the 5:00 pm game against Slovenia.

GB v Slovenia

Going into the last game of the day against a team that in the past has frequently been part of the final at the European Slowpitch Championship, it was no surprise that GB fielded a strong team.

However, Slovenia didn’t put up much of a fight either, turning the game into GB’s second mercy rule win of the day.  GB beat Slovenia 23-1, which suggests that for Slovenia this game simply wasn’t worth the effort, especially as they would play GB again on Saturday in the 1 v 2 Page Playoff game.

To this point in the tournament, GB was the only team with all of their women batting at around .400, proving yet again that it is definitely the women that make a difference in successful co-ed slowpitch teams. 

GB managed to score three runs in the top of the first inning, and Slovenia were soon back in the field after solid plays from Danny Gunn and Duncan Waugh helped to keep them scoreless in the bottom of the frame.

GB failed to score in the top of the second inning, as two plays from pitcher Tomo Zezlina and a strikeout brought a pumped-up Slovenia back to bat.

But GB’s strong defense shut down Slovenia with only a base hit from Zezlina.

The score was still just 3-0 to GB at this point, with the game up for grabs by either team.

Suddenly, in the top of the third inning, GB exploded and had scored 10 runs by the time the second out was made.  The team then chanted for a two-down rally and were on their way with bases loaded, but Slovenian pitcher Peter Milosevic made a great pick-up and throw to second base, ending the inning.

However, GB were now 13-1 up.

If Slovenia was to have any chance of getting back in the game, they needed a few runs to keep them alive and away from the mercy rule.  But all they managed was a two-out inside-the-park home run by Gabrijela Humerca, which went between right side outfielders Mike MacDowell and Ruth Macintosh.

So the score was now 13-2 when GB came into bat in the top of the fourth inning.

There were two down and a runner on second base when the team once again called for a two-out rally, and this time the call was answered, as four walks and RBIs from Danny Gunn, Dan Spinks (who has batted phenomenally this tournament) and Ruth Macintosh helped stretch GB’s lead to 23-2.

Slovenia would now have one last chance in the bottom of the fourth inning to score at least two runs to prevent the mercy rule ending the game.

First up was Andrez Skabar, who hit a hard ground ball to shortstop but reached second on an overthrow.  The next batte, Tina Kristina Trobec, hit a line drive to Dan Spinks, whose reactions were quick enough to save his body and make the catch.  The next two outs fell swiftly with pop flies to Aaron Thomas and Mike MacDowell to end the game.

Now it will come down to the business end of the tournament, and GB’s opponents in the Page Playoffs will certainly take the games more seriously.

But can anyone stop GB?

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