GBFL’s 2017 season ends with celebration

Mon 5 Jun 2017

The 2017 Great Britain Fastpitch League season came to an end on a beautiful sunny day on Saturday 3 June, at Farnham Park.  After the final games were played, Meteors Black were confirmed as winners of the Men’s Division and The Mix as Women’s Division champions.

The GBFL played a successful six-week season this year, with more teams, more players and more games than in the previous few years.  Whether the season can expand beyond the beginning of June, when the major slowpitch tournaments start to kick in, will be a question for deliberation over the winter.

But under the direction of Lee and Jan Grafton, there is no question that the country’s only adult fastpitch league is going from strength to strength.

Women’s Division​

There wasn’t a lot of suspense on the final day’s play in the Women’s Division, as The Mix, a new team formed this year by Chelsie Robison and Sian Wigington and made up mostly of players from the GB Women and Under-19 Women squads, had wrapped up the title the week before.  The team will now be eligible to play in the European Women’s Cup in 2018.

But The Mix did lose only their second game all season on the final day, and it was their only loss in a game thrown by their #1 pitcher Andrea Williams (in their only other loss, in Week 3, Andrea had pitched against them!).

In fact, two of the final games in the Women’s Division, played late in the afternoon on 3 June, were high-quality affairs, with last year’s champion and this year’s runner-up London Angels deservedly toppling The Mix 5-3 before The Mix came back to edge out the third-place Oxford Diamonds 4-2 in a well-played contest in which Diamonds’ pitcher Amie Hutchison threw an excellent game but didn’t have quite enough support.

The Strays, who featured league organiser and novice pitcher Jan Grafton throwing slow but accurate deliveries that provided a lot of action for her defense, finished in fourth position, while the Free Agents, a team with a number of GB Under-16 players, finished last but gained a lot of experience that will serve the Under-16s well in their upcoming European Championship in the Czech Republic.


Women’s Division scores and final standings

Scores from the final day’s play in the GBFL Women’s Division, and final standings for 2017 are below:

The Strays 11, Free Agents 4
Oxford Diamonds 11, The Strays 2
Oxford Diamonds 11, Free Agents 5
London Angels 5, The Mix 3
The Mix 4, Oxford Diamonds 2
London Angels 13, Free Agents 0
 

TEAMS W L D PCT RUN DIFF
The Mix 14 2 0 .875 +142
London Angels 12 4 0 .750 +83
Oxford Diamonds 8 8 0 .500 -8
The Strays 4 12 0 .250 -115
Free Agents 2 14 0 .125 -102

 

 

 

 

Men’s Division

There was definitely something to play for in the Men’s Division on the final day, where both the front-running Meteors Black and the resurgent Meteors Green, a team featuring six GB Under-19 Men’s Team players, had a chance at the title.

Meteors Green did their bit behind the excellent pitching of veteran John Brown and youngster Oliver Howley, winning all three of their games, two of them with shutouts.  But for the Greens to catch the Blacks, the Blacks had to lose at least one of the four games they played on the day, and that never looked like happening, as the Blacks beat Meteors Red twice and also registered wins over the Tigers and the Chichester Falcons.

So Meteors Black took the league by half a game, with 16 wins and four losses compared to 15 wins, four losses and a draw for Meteors Green – a 5-5 tie with the Chichester Falcons in Week 2 that was ultimately to cost the Greens more than they would have imagined at the time.

Last year’s winners, Meteors Blue, could only manage third place this time, followed by the Tigers and Meteors Red, who both had 7-12-1 records, and by the ever-improving Chichester Falcons, who are proving that a slowpitch club can have a lot of fun and some success playing fastpitch.


Men’s Division scores and final standings

Scores from the final day’s play in the GBFL Men’s Division, and final standings for 2017 are below:

Meteors Red 18, Chichester Falcons 3
Tigers 14, Meteors Blue 3
Meteors Green 9, Chichester Falcons 0
Meteors Black 11, Tigers 5
Meteors Black 9, Meteors Red 5
Meteors Green 7, Meteors Blue 0
Meteors Red 5, Meteors Blue 4
Meteors Green 9, The Tigers 2
Meteors Black 10, Chichester Falcons 2
Meteors Black 11, Meteors Red 2
 

TEAMS W L D PCT RUN DIFF
Meteors Black 16 4 0 .800 +49
Meteors Green 15 4 1 .775 +84
Meteors Blue 9 11 0 .450 +42
Tigers 7 12 1 .375 -40
Meteors Red 7 12 1 .375 -40
Chichester Falcons 4 15 1 .225 -95

 

 

 

 

Looking back

This was one of the best GBFL seasons so far. 

Despite starting in late April, the GBFL managed to play on six spring Saturdays without any serious rain.  The league was well organised and many games were competitive.  A number of people tried fastpitch for the first time, and most of them will be back next year.  For players in five different GB Fastpitch Teams, it was a chance to get some games in before their European or World Championship competitions.

The Men’s Division was notable this year for a lot of close games, some excellent pitching and a general high quality of play. 

The Women’s Division suffered a bit from a lack of pitching depth, and the fact that teams often had to borrow players for games suggests that four teams might have worked better than five.  But some of the younger pitchers in the league got a chance to learn and will be better for it, while the games featured plenty of action and some excellent hitting and defense.

All games in both divisions were played in an excellent spirit, and there’s no question that the league was enjoyed by everyone who took part, with the experience enhanced by BSUK’s new Home Plate clubhouse and especially the Home Plate Bar and Kitchen, keeping everyone fed and watered throughout long days of play.


Awards and thanks

After the last games had ended, an Awards Ceremony was held in the clubhouse garden to celebrate a successful season.  Teams and individual winners were rewarded with trophies, Prosecco and chocolates, and after the ceremonies were over, there was cake for everyone.


Trophies were presented first to the divisional winners – Meteors Black and The Mix.

Then MVP trophies were given out for each team.  The winners were chosen by the teams, but the MVP awards were organised by two of the team captains, Anna Wareing of the Oxford Diamonds and Chelsie Robison of The Mix.  The winners were:

WOMEN’S TEAM MVPS
The Mix – Hannah Pitman
London Angels – Martina Klicnarova
Oxford Diamonds – Lesley Roberts
The Strays – Laura Hirai
Free Agents – Caitlyn Frank

MEN’S TEAM MVPS
Meteors Black – David French
Meteors Green – John Brown
Meteors Blue – Matt Tomlin
Tigers – Bill Sinclair
Meteors Red -- Ford Cadiogan
Chichester Falcons – Matt Zelina

Other prizes went to Bridget Cameron and Jana McCaskill for organising the umpiring, to Nicole Ratel for all her early morning field preparation and to Lee and Jan Grafton for all the work involved in organising the league and making sure it ran smoothly.

Another feature of the final day at GBFL was a clinic run from 2.00-3.00 pm by ISF-qualified umpire Jana McCaskill for GB coaches on three key points: the DP/Flex rule and how coaches can use it, obstruction and interference, and how coaches can successfully talk to umpires during games.  It was a lively and informative session, much appreciated by all the GB coaches who attended.


Photos by Jan Grafton

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