Upsets and rain dominate Week 4 in the GBFL

Mon 14 May 2018

It wasn’t a very good day for teams at the top of the standings in the Women’s and Men’s Divisions of the Great Britain Fastpitch League when the players convened for the fourth Saturday of the season on 12 May at Farnham Park.

The day started out grey but dry.  Then it started to drizzle around lunchtime, and it never stopped.  As the afternoon wore on, the rain got gradually heavier, and the final games of the day were played in pretty appalling and muddy conditions – but played they were.

For the teams that had started the day with comfortable leads in their respective divisions – The Mix in the Women’s Division and Meteors Red in the Men’s Division -- the results were as uncomfortable as the weather.  Each lost two of the three games they played -- for Meteors Red it was their first two losses of the season – and only won the third game by a single run.  By the end of the day, the standings were considerably tighter, with two Saturdays of the league schedule still to play.

These will be coming up on 26 May and 2 June.

Women’s Division​

When the first place Mix and the second-place London Angels met in the first game of the morning on 12 May, the final result didn’t suggest that anything untoward was about to happen.  The game was close until The Mix scored three runs in the top of the third inning to stretch their advantage to 7-3 against Angels’ starter Kylie Marshall.  The key blows were a two-RBI double by Glenys McGuire and another double by Katie Jessop.

After that, The Mix couldn’t add any further runs while the Angels crept closer.  In the bottom of the final inning, Rachael Watkeys scored on a wild pitch and Joelle Whitley came home on a sacrifice fly by Nadya Pavlova to cut the lead to 7-6.  But Mix pitcher Silvia Garzon got the final out on a called strike three on the outside corner, and The Mix added a further game to their division lead.

But after that, it was downhill for The Mix as the weather worsened.  First, they lost to the Oxford Diamonds by a score of 11-4, in which the key hit was a grand slam home run by the Diamonds’ Felicity West in the top of the second inning.  Then, in their final game of the day between The Mix and the Free Agents, an injury cut the game short and the score reverted back to the previous inning where the Free Agents, whose only previous win was by forfeit, had held a 5-2 lead.

Following their loss to The Mix in the morning, the Angels went on to comfortable wins over the Free Agents by 14-4 and the Diamonds by 8-3.  The Angels broke the game open early against the Diamonds with five runs in the bottom of the first inning, two of them scoring on a triple by Nadya Pavlova.

So The Mix have only a one-game lead over the Angels in the loss column with those two weeks of the season remaining.

On the other hand, the Diamonds are only two games behind the Angels, so even if The Mix manage to hold their nerve and their lead at the top, the battle for second place is also very much on.

Scores and standings

Here are scores and standings from Week 4 in the Women’s Division:

The Mix 7, London Angels 6
Oxford Diamonds 14, Free Agents 3
London Angels 14, Free Agents 4
Oxford Diamonds 11, The Mix 4
Free Agents 5, The Mix 2
London Angels 8, Oxford Diamonds 3

The Mix 10 4 1 .690 132 64
London Angels 9 5 0 .643 98 66
Oxford Diamonds 7 7 1 .482 117 86
Free Agents 2 12 0 .143 64 171


Men’s Division

At the end of a day in which second-place Meteors Black picked up three solid wins and first place Meteors Red suffered their first two losses of the season, the teams are now separated by only two games in the loss column with those two playing dates still to come.

That means the title race is back on in the Men’s Division, with the defending champion Blacks not quite ready to give up their crown.

The theme was set in the first game of the morning, when Black and Red played their usual tight contest against each other but Black came out on top by a score of 4-2 to inflict the Reds’ first defeat of the season.

“About time!”, said Blacks’ captain Steve Fullan.

That result may not have been entirely unexpected, but Meteors Red probably didn’t anticipate losing 5-3 to the Lions, a team composed mostly of GB Under-19 Men’s Team players, in the final game of the day.  Lions coach and GB Under-19 Men’s Team Manager Ian Tomlin was particularly pleased with the win.

“That’s how you’re capable of playing,” he told his team afterwards, “but we need to do it in every game.”

And in truth, Meteors Red might have lost all three games on the day, as they were lucky to pull out a 7-6 win against Bracknell, the team at the bottom of the standings.  The game turned around in the top of the final inning when Bracknell’s Bill Sinclair hit a grand slam inside-the-park home run to put his team ahead – but they would have been even further ahead had not Sinclair been called out for missing second base.

That gave the Reds a chance, and they loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning before a single by Geoff Clayton gave the league leaders the win.

Bracknell continue to be the hard-luck team of the division, with only one win and a draw, but a lot of close losses, including a 10-9 loss to the Lions in the opening game on Saturday. Over the last two weekends of GBFL play, Bracknell has lost four one-run games.

Scores and standings

Here are scores and standings from Week 4 in the Men’s Division:

Lions 10, Bracknell 9
Meteors Black 4, Meteors Red 2
Meteors Black 14, Lions 3
Meteors Red 7, Bracknell 6
Meteors Black 11, Bracknell 6
Lions 5, Meteors Red 3

Meteors Red 12 2 0 .857 109 48
Meteors Black 10 4 1 .690 108 61
Lions 4 8 2 .308 71 115
Bracknell 1 9 1 .095 48 110


Looking ahead

The GBFL will take a break on the weekend of 19-20 May, when the slowpitch Diamond Series 1 will take over Farnham Park, before playing out the final two Saturdays of the fastpitch season on 26 May and 2 June.

On the final weekend of the season, the GBFL games on Saturday 2 June will be bookended by games between a GB Select Women’s Team and a visiting team from Wartburg College in the United States.  The teams will play a single game on Friday evening 1 June beginning at 6.30 pm, and then two games on Sunday 3 June beginning at 10.00 am, all at Farnham Park.  Spectators are more than welcome.

Meanwhile, the GBFL always welcomes new players, regardless of previous fastpitch experience, and even at this late stage in the season.

Anyone interested in joining the GBFL should contact Johanna Malisani:

Photographs by Shelley Craven Harrison

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