GBFL season gets off to a sunny start

Mon 23 Apr 2018


Opening Day for the 2018 Great Britain Fastpitch League (GBFL) season could not have gone better on Saturday 21 April at Farnham Park: warm temperatures, mostly blue skies, some close and well-played games and an indication of good divisional races to come.

This year, the GBFL has four teams in both the Women’s and Men’s Divisions, and on most of the seven GBFL playing dates, the teams will play a round-robin, with everyone playing each other.

That’s what happened on 21 April (plus an extra game in the Men’s Division) and the games played on Opening Day suggest that last year’s winners – The Mix in the Women’s Division and Meteors Black in the Men’s Division – will have to fight to repeat their title success.

Both teams went 2-1 on Opening Day and are tucked in nicely in second place in their respective divisions.  But honours on the first day’s play went to the London Angels in the Women’s Division and Meteors Red in the Men’s Division, both unbeaten on the day.

Women’s Division​

Last year, The Mix, a team put together by young GB players Sian Wigington and Chelsie Robison, were the Manchester City of the GBFL – a team clearly better than the rest of the league.

This year, however, with some of the GB players on The Mix playing in the Dutch League to sharpen their game for the international tournaments coming up in the summer, there looks to be little to choose between The Mix, the London Angels and the Oxford Diamonds, and the fight for the divisional title could be close throughout the season.

On Opening Day, the unluckiest team was clearly the Diamonds.  They took an 8-6 lead into the final inning against The Mix, only for the defending champions to rally and take the game 9-8 on a walk-off single by Silvia Garzon.

Later in the day, the Diamonds scored a bunch of runs in the top half of the last inning to take a five-run lead against the London Angels, only to have the score revert to 3-2 in favour of the Angels when the last inning couldn’t be completed in the time allowed.

It’s no wonder that Diamonds’ captain Anna Wareing told her team after that result: “We’ve still had a really good day!”

In the very first game in the morning, the Angels pulled out a 7-5 win over The Mix, and games between The Mix, the Angels and the Diamonds should be close and exciting throughout the season.

The Free Agents, as their name implies, is a team made up of players who have signed up as individuals to play in the GBFL, and there is a wide range of experience within the team.  But as they get more accustomed to the standard of play, the Free Agents will definitely improve under the leadership of Academy and HPA Coach Alexis Markham-Hill and begin to challenge the other teams.

Men’s Division

The very first game in the Men’s Division gave us the anticipated pitching duel between former internationals Gareth Jooste for the Reds and John Brown for the defending champion Blacks, and the Reds only managed to pull away at the end for an 8-0 win.  But these two top pitchers will face each again as the season goes along – and the Reds have a second pitching ace in the hole in the person of GB Men’s Team player Josh Peat.

In fact, if the Reds do go on from their unbeaten Opening Day performance to win the league, their pitching depth will probably be the key.  On Opening Day, the Reds allowed only five runs in three games.

The runner-up in the Men’s Division last year was Meteors Green, a team where just over half the players were from the GB Under-19 Men’s Team.  This year, the team is composed almost entirely of GB Under-19 players so they can get more games together, and they’ve changed their name to the Lions.

Although the Lions were in every game on Opening Day, and no one scored in double figures against them and their young pitcher Oliver Howley, they struggled a bit to score runs and will need to build up their offense to get into the win column.

The new team in the league this year is Bracknell, made up primarily of baseball players, and they got the season off to a great start behind pitcher Shannon Henry with a 9-3 win over the Lions. 

Although Bracknell then lost to Meteors Red and twice against Meteors Black, they showed enough to suggest that the move from baseball to fastpitch isn’t going to be much of a problem, and they will put more wins on the board.

The reason that Bracknell played an extra game on Saturday is that one of the seven GBFL playing dates is on a Sunday and Bracknell won’t be able to make that date as most of their players will be playing baseball!

Results

Here are the scores from Opening Day:

WOMEN’S DIVISION
London Angels 7, The Mix 5
Oxford Diamonds 15, Free Agents 10
The Mix 9, Oxford Diamonds 8
London Angels 16, Free Agents 0
London Angels 3, Oxford Diamonds 2
The Mix 16, Free Agents 7

MEN’S DIVISION
Meteors Red 8, Meteors Black 0
Bracknell 9, Lions 3
Meteors Black 8, Lions 3
Meteors Red 12, Bracknell 4
Meteors Black 5, Bracknell 0
Meteors Red 8, Lions 1
Meteors Black 10, Bracknell 0

Standings

Divisional standings after Week 1 are:
 

WOMEN'S DIVISION

TEAMS W L D PCT RF RA
London Angels 3 0 0 1.000 26 7
The Mix 2 1 0 .667 30 22
Oxford Diamonds 1 2 0 .333 25 22
Free Agents 0 3 0 .000 17 47

 

 

 

MEN'S DIVISION

TEAMS W L D PCT RF RA
Meteors Red 3 0 0 1.000 28 5
Meteors Black 3 1 0 .750 23 11
Bracknell 1 3 0 .250 13 30
Lions 0 3 0 .000 7 25

 

 

 


Photos by Shelley Craven Harrison, Damon Brown and Kyle Warner.

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