London Angels triumph at World Masters

Sun 7 May 2017

The London Angels, the longest-running women’s fastpitch team in the UK, has brought home the Gold Medal in the Over-35 Recreational Division from the World Master Games, played from April 21-30 in Auckland, New Zealand.

The team, which went unbeaten over 10 days of competition (with one draw), was composed of some players who live in the UK, along with players who have made London their home in the past, if only for a couple years.

Current and former Angels from around the world gathered together to take on 57 other teams in their division at the Games, and the first time everyone played together was the in first game of the tournament.

The team​

The team consisted of:

Rebecca Annan (NZ)
Kat Backhouse (Austria/Australia)
Griet De Schrijveren (Belgium)
Karen Heimgartner-Bock (Switzerland/US)
Natalie Hosten (Belgium)
Chris Macleod (Canada/UK)
Wendy Neilson (Canada)
Nadya Pavlova (Bulgaria/UK)
Beth Perkins (Canada/UK)
Karla Simpson (New Zealand)
Sonya Wilson (New Zealand)

Head Coach:  Barry Doney (New Zealand)
Team Manager:  Carmel Keswick (Australia/UK)


In their initial round-robin pool, the London Angels topped the group with four wins and a draw.  Most games were tight affairs, but pitchers Karen Heimgartner-Bock and Griet De Schrijveren threw three shutouts in the five games and generally kept the opposition off the bases.

First-round scores were:

London Angels 8, Angels 0
London Angels 7, Gawler Masters 4
London Angels 3, Redback Reds 3
London Angels 5, Kotahi 0
London Angels 8, Slyders 0

The Angels conceded only 19 runs over the course of pool play and the second-round playoff group, none in their semi-final against the Perth Swans and five in the a final for a total of 24 runs conceded over 11 games.

Second-round scores were:

London Angels 6, Westridge Yankees Maestros 5
London Angels 4, Alberta Angels 3
London Angels 8, Bombers Ladies 0
London Angels 9, Team Japan 4

Winning gold

The tournament had an exceptional run of good weather that held up until the semi-final.  Then the heavens opened and players from the Angels’ opponents, the Perth Swans, were floating inflatable swans on the lake that was the infield.

But the rain stopped, the field drained, and after a delayed start it was game on.  Another victory and another shutout, by a score of 2-0, and the Angels were playing for gold.

The final was played against the New Zealand team The Mamacitas, who not only entered the final with an unbeaten record but had mercy-ruled every team they had played, including a 16-0 win in their semi-final.  But the Angels kept their heads in the game, their chins up and their perseverance high.

The game was tied at 5-5 after seven innings, which meant the final went to a tie-breaker.  In the eighth inning, the Angels kept Mamacitas from scoring with sound defense and catches in the outfield by Rebecca Annan.  Then a massive hit up the middle by Natalie Hosten in the bottom of the inning drove in the winning run and gave the Angels the gold medal.

Nerves were shattered and nails chewed -- the team couldn't have got through another inning!

The hardy and dedicated troop of supporters for the Angels were from near and far, and included Karen Heimgartner-Bock’s four-month-old son CJ and Beth Perkins’s 13-month-old son Hunter.

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