GBFL gets under way despite Storm Hannah

Mon 29 Apr 2019

It was bitterly cold and 40 mph gusts of wind battered the players and blew clouds of infield dirt and dust into their faces.  But at least it didn’t rain, and so the 2019 Great Britain Fastpitch League season was able to get started on Saturday 27 April at Farnham Park.

Storm Hannah may not have been able to stop play, but it certainly made every pop fly and fly ball an adventure, and it wasn’t until the final game of the day that the sun came out and the winds began to ease. 

This year’s GBFL has three teams in the Men’s Division and four in the Women’s Division, and will play on five more Saturdays – 4, 11 and 25 May, 1 June and a final session on 12 October. 

The problem for the GBFL, with many players who play both fastpitch and slowpitch, is that it can only play on dates when no major slowpitch tournament is scheduled, which doesn’t leave many openings in the calendar.

Even on Opening Day, there were players missing from GBFL teams because they were otherwise engaged in regional slowpitch events.

In addition to the scheduled GBFL games on 27 April, two of the Women’s Division teams – the Diamonds and the Barbarians – played scrimmage games against the Lakenheath Lancers, a high school team from the American air force base at RAF Lakenheath.  The Diamonds beat the Lancers 9-5, while the Lancers came back to defeat the Barbarians by a score of 11-9.

The games were requested by Lakenheath to help them prepare for their upcoming season playing other US bases in the UK and Europe, and they will be back at Farnham Park again on 11 May to play three more games against GBFL women’s teams.

Men’s Division

The GBFL Men’s Division may have only three teams this year, down from four last year and five in 2017, but there was every indication on Opening Day that the division will be highly competitive.

Three of the four games played were decided by a three-run margin, and the fourth game was decided by just two runs.  The two teams that played each other twice – the Meteors and Stags – split their doubleheader. 

With all teams able to put capable pitchers in the circle, it should be a tight race throughout the season to decide which team will qualify for the 2020 European Men’s Super Cup.

In addition, league play will give valuable game experience to the players on the GB Under-19 Men’s Team, including a number of younger players trialing for the new GB Under-18 Men’s Team that will be playing in a European Qualifier in September.

Scores were:

Meteors 11, Stags 8
Meteors 7, GB Under-19 Men 4
Stags 8, GB Under-19 Men 5
Stags 8, Meteors 6

Standings after the first week of play are:

Meteors (2-1)
Stags (2-1)
GB Under-19 Men (0-2)

Photos by Hugh Scorgie
 

Women’s Division

Last year’s champion London Angels started where they left off with three fairly easy wins on Opening Day in the Women’s Division and will clearly be the team to beat this year.

But the Barbarians, new to the league in 2019, finished the day with two wins plus a loss to the Angels and could well mount a challenge as their players, many of them new to the GBFL, find their feet.

The Oxford Diamonds, who were missing some key players on Opening Day, should be better when they return and the team can put its strongest line-up on the field.

And the Free Agents, made up mainly of younger players and players new to the game, lost their final game of the day by only 5-2 to Barbarians and will definitely get better as the season goes along.

Scores were:

Angels 10, Barbarians 0
Diamonds 20, Free Agents 1
Angels 15, Free Agents 1
Barbarians 11, Diamonds 5
Barbarians 5, Free Agents 2
Angels 13, Diamonds 3

Standings after Week 1 are:

Angels (3-0)
Barbarians (2-1)
Diamonds (1-2)
Free Agents (0-3)

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