Manchester Dodgers win season-opening East Midlands First Ball
Mon 3 Apr 2017
The weather mostly held on a cloudy day at Charnwood College in Loughborough for the 16 teams that entered the East Midlands First Ball on Saturday 1 April, traditionally the opening co-ed slowpitch event of the season.
Most teams came from the East Midlands, but there were also entries from Manchester, Birmingham and Milton Keynes, and it was a Manchester team, the Dodgers, who emerged as Cup Champions after a 17-6 final victory over Sheriffs.
But the Cup was only one of four different competitions that were played out after the first round, and Shield winners were Pyros Juniors, Ashes winners were the Redbacks and the Spoon competition was won by the Tigers.
The tournament began with four round-robin groups of four teams, with all teams able to progress into one of the four competitions by the end of the round-robin phase.
Surprisingly, all of the groups were close and were not fully decided until the final game of each round-robin. After a quick calculation break, all 16 teams faced off in semi-finals before the four finals were played simultaneously.
The Cup final was a big-hitting affair between the Dodgers from Manchester and the local Sheriffs of Nottingham. Both teams had a wealth of experience, including a number of NSL 1 players on both sides.
The game itself was a fairly close affair in the early stages, with outfield hits being caught at ever-increasing distances from the plate. It wasn’t until the final few innings when the Dodgers’ power came through and they built up an unassailable lead to take the title.
Overall, it was a successful day to sweep out those cobwebs for the coming season.
It was also a good day for new East Midlands League umpires to be put through their paces and have a chance of umpiring real games after a recent course. And BASU’s Mike Jennings was there to give more experienced umpires their assessments over the course of the day.