GBFL Week Two barely beats the weather

Mon 30 Apr 2018

What a difference a week makes!  On 21 April the Great Britain Fastpitch League opened its 2018 season in warm sunshine at Farnham Park; on 28 April, the teams shivered through Week 2 in grey, damp and cold conditions and could only play part of the schedule.

In fact, it was lucky that any games were played at all.  At 8.00 on the morning of 28 April, it was raining and there were major puddles on all four saturated pitches.  At 9.00, it more or less stopped raining, but by 9.30, when games were due to start, the pitches were still unplayable.

By 10.30, Pitch 2 – the original baseball/softball combo field – was just about acceptable, and a schedule that called for games on three pitches for most of the day was shortened to five games on Pitch 2.  Play then got under way.

But the infield on Pitch 1 drains well, and by 11.30 or so it was looking possible with a bit of work.  At noon, this pitch came into use despite something resembling a bog in the pitcher’s circle, and the schedule was changed again.

In the end, thanks to perseverance by all, eight slightly shortened games out of a 13-game schedule were played, every team got to play twice, some excellent softball was seen by the few shivering spectators, and things remained tight at the top of the divisional standings.

First and last​

The two best games were the first and last of the day.

In the first game, the one that kicked things off at 10.30 on Pitch 2, the Men’s Division leaders, Meteors Red, remained unbeaten after a well-pitched and well-played 3-1 win over the Lions, essentially the GB Under-19 Men’s Team.

Under-19 Manager Ian Tomlin said: “It’s great to have the Under-19s all playing together in the same team, and seeing them play so well defensively.  Last summer, when we got to the Euros, our fielding was all over the place, but now you can see it coming together.”

The last game of the day was a top-of-the-table Women’s Division clash between last year’s champions, the Mix, and the London Angels, who came into the contest unbeaten on the season.  But after the Mix staged a dramatic comeback and then held on for a 7-6 win, the teams ended the day tied in the standings, with the Angels in first place only on the basis of runs conceded.

Women’s Division​

The Mix v Angels game was 1-1 after a couple of innings, but the tie was broken in dramatic fashion by the Angels’ Nadya Pavlova, who hit a scorching line drive solo home run to left centre field, after which the Angels added on to take a 5-1 lead.

But the Mix rallied.  A two-run single by Silvia Garzon brought them close, a single over third base by Immy Thomas tied the score, and another single to left field by captain Sian Wigington put the Mix ahead, 6-5.

Back came the Angels to tie the score on a walk and, eventually, an RBI groundout.

In the top of the last inning, GB Under-19 and Under-22 player Saskia Davies drove a vicious line drive to the fence in centre field and came around to score on the inside-the-park home run, giving the Mix a 7-6 lead.  But the Mix couldn’t add to it and were defending that slender margin when the Angels came up for their final at-bat.

Glenys McGuire made a good backhand stop and throw for the first out, and with two outs and the tying run on third, Sara Daughtrey flew out to Laura Hirai in centre field and the Mix and the Angels will go into Week 3 in a first-place tie.

The Oxford Diamonds, who were unlucky to lose a pair of one-run games in Week 1, gave the Angels another good battle in Week 2 but went down by 8-4.  Earlier, the Diamonds had registered a 14-0 win over the Free Agents, so the Diamonds remain in striking distance in third place.

The Free Agents then put seven runs on the board in their next game, but the Mix had more firepower and won by 15-7.

Here are the scores and the standings after Week 2:

Oxford Diamonds 14, Free Agents 0
The Mix 15, Free Agents 7
London Angels 8, Oxford Diamonds 4
The Mix 7, London Angels 6

London Angels 4 1 0 .800 40 18
The Mix 4 1 0 .800 52 35
Oxford Diamonds 2 3 0 .400 43 30
Free Agents 0 5 0 .000 24 78




Men’s Division

That excellent opening game of the day between Meteors Red and the Lions was a pitching duel between John Brown, guest-pitching for the Lions, and High Scorgie from Meteors Red.  Hugh played a lot of fastpitch back in the distant past for the London Meteors club and has only returned to the game this year, but his pitching skills remain largely intact.

Both teams gave each other runs in the first inning on errors, but after that the pitchers were in control and the fielding was amazingly crisp on a soggy pitch as both teams mainly went up and down in order.

The improvement the Lions were showing in Week 2 then carried on to their next game, also a low-scoring affair in which they held the second-place team in the table, Meteors Black, to a 2-2 draw.

Later in the day, both Meteors Red and Meteors Black managed fairly comfortable wins over Bracknell.

Here are the scores and the standings after Week 2:

Meteors Red 3, Lions 1
Lions 2, Meteors Black 2
Meteors Red 10, Bracknell 0
Meteors Black 11, Bracknell 1

Meteors Red 5 0 0 1.000 41 6
Meteors Black 4 1 1 .633 36 14
Lions 1 3 1 .325 16 35
Bracknell 1 3 0 .167 8 46




Looking ahead

Next weekend, 5-6 May, the GBFL will be playing on both Saturday and Sunday for the only time this season, and at least some of the games lost on Week 2 will be scheduled then.

The GBFL always welcomes new players, regardless of previous fastpitch experience, and there are places available on teams for the remainder of the season.

Anyone interested in joining the GBFL should contact Johanna Malisani:

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