USA power wins second straight World Series

Sun 10 Sep 2017

By Bob Fromer

Team USA pounded four home runs over the fence as part of a 24-hit barrage that brought them a second straight World Series title at the Imperial College Heston Venue on the weekend of 9-10 September, as the Americans crushed the GB Masters 24-6 in a four-inning mercy rule final.

In the Plate competition, Munster and Scotland also staged a repeat of their 2016 final, and Munster won again.  But whereas the Irish team had enjoyed a 23-8 stroll last year, this time they only managed to squeak past the Scots 14-13.

There was a new winner in this year’s Cup competition, where Wayne Pardubice from the Czech Republic defeated Wales by 21-9.  This was the first win at any level by a Czech team at the World Series.

As usual, 18 teams took part in the tournament, 12 made up of players based in the UK and six from elsewhere in Europe.  New teams this year included the Dutch Lions, Belgian All-Stars and Swiss Toros from Europe and the home-based Team Narnia, put together at very short notice by Ian Tomlin and Josh Peat to replace the Irish National Team, which had withdrawn from the tournament just 10 days beforehand for lack of players.  Many thanks go to Ian and Josh for allowing the 2017 World Series to proceed as scheduled.

The weather forecast for the weekend was never promising, and about an hour was lost to rain on Saturday afternoon.  But this was made up, and all games on the schedule were played.  On Sunday, the weather was unremittingly cold and cloudy, but the only rain was the odd bit of drizzle.  It could have been a whole lot worse!

Below is a summary of how the tournament played out, followed by a report on the Trophy final between Team USA and the GB Masters.


Round-robins​

The World Series always begins with three round-robin groups of six teams each.  At the end of play on Saturday, the top two teams in each group go forward to the main Trophy competition, the middle two teams go into the Plate competition, and the bottom two teams go to the Cup.

Group winners, all of whom went undefeated in the round-robin, were the USA, England and GB Masters, and the teams that went with them to the Trophy playoffs were the UCE Travellers, Anzacs and GB Futures (formerly known as GB Development).

Africa, the Dutch Lions and Canada headed the teams that moved to the Plate playoffs, along with Munster, Scotland and Team Narnia.

The Belgian All-Stars, Japan and Wayne Pardubice headed the teams in the Cup playoffs, and they were joined by Wales, Latinoamerica and the Swiss Toros.


Second round​

The second round consists of two round-robin groups of three teams in each of the three competitions.

In the Trophy Playoffs, USA and GB Masters were again undefeated and topped their groups, followed by Anzacs and GB Futures.  These four teams went to the Trophy Page Playoff, while the UCE Travellers and England had to settle for playing the Trophy fifth-place game.  The German team almost made it through, but lost 10-9 to GB Futures.

In the Plate Playoffs, Munster and Canada were undefeated and topped their groups, followed by Scotland and Africa.  These four teams went to the Plate Page Playoff, while the Dutch Lions and Team Narnia had to settle for playing the Trophy fifth-place game.

In the Cup Playoffs, Japan and Wayne Pardubice were undefeated and topped their groups, followed by Latinoamerica and Wales.  These four teams went to the Cup Page Playoff, while the Swiss Toros and Belgian All-Stars had to settle for playing the Trophy fifth-place game.  Both of these teams had come close to making the Page Playoffs: the Swiss Toros were edged out 10-9 by Latinoamerica and the Belgian All-Stars were beaten 15-14 by Japan.


Page Playoffs

In the Trophy Page Playoffs, the GB Masters inflicted the first and only loss of the tournament on Team USA in the 1v2 game and went straight to the final.  The Anzacs eliminated GB Futures 17-5 in the 3v4 game, which meant the Futures team finished fourth while the Anzacs met USA to see who would play GB Masters in the final.  Team USA jumped to an early lead and held on for the win. 

Meanwhile, England beat the UCE Travellers 8-3 in the Trophy fifth place game, which provided a bit of revenge for this summer’s European Championship, where the GB Slowpitch Team lost its title for the first time – to Germany.

In the Plate Page Playoffs, Munster won a thriller over Canada, 21-18, in the 1v2 game, and went straight to the final, while Scotland outlasted Africa 14-11 in the 3v4 game.  So the Africans finished fourth, while Scotland went on to a 17-5 win over Canada to reach the final, where, as noted above, Munster squeezed out a 14-13 win to take the Plate title.

Meanwhile, in the Plate fifth place game, Team Narnia ran away from the Dutch Lions by a score of 17-2.

In the Cup Page Playoffs, Wayne Pardubice tore into Japan 19-3 in the 1v2 game and went straight to the final, while Wales had a tense 7-5 win over Latinoamerica in the 3v4 game.  So Latinoamerica finished fourth and Wales went on to defeat Japan and get back to the final.  There they ran out of steam in their 21-9 loss to Wayne Pardubice.

Meanwhile, in the Cup fifth place game, the Swiss Toros eclipsed the Belgian All-Stars by 17-5.


The Trophy final

USA and the GB Masters had met in last year’s World Series decider, where the USA had won the final by 12-6 and the earlier 1v2 Page Playoff game by 23-11. 

This year, in the 1 v 2 Page Playoff game, it was the GB Masters who turned on the power, riding three home runs by Chris Yoxall to a thrilling 16-15 triumph.

That meant USA had to fight their way back to the final, which they did with a hard-fought win over Anzacs. 

Before the final, GB Masters catcher Claudine Snape had mused, “We’re the Masters, right?  That means we’re older.  And maybe just a little bit more tired than they are…?"

Tired or not, it was the Masters who held the lead after the first inning was played.

In the top of the first, Team USA scored twice on a single by Adam Mullins, a double by Tara Feeney, who burned Masters’ left fielder Kelvin Harrison, and further singles by Tyler McGoveran and Kim Miller.

But the GB Masters put up three in the bottom half of the inning after the first two batters flew out to Tyler McGoveran in right centre field. Chris Yoxall and Claudine Snape singled, and when Kelvin Harrison’s long fly ball to right field was misplayed, all three runners came around to score.

After that, the Americans took over.

A four-run outburst in the top of the second inning featured back-to-back over the fence home runs by Chiya Louie and Alex Oelfke and took the score to 6-3.

Not a big deficit, to be sure – but GB Masters failed to score in the bottom of the second inning, in part because of a fantastic diving stop by Duncan Waugh on a ball that Roger Grooms tried to push between first and second base.  Duncan’s fine throw to second base from an almost-prone position turned it into a force out.

Then, in the top of the third inning, Team USA scored 12 runs on 12 hits and took the game out of reach.  It wasn’t home runs this time, but single after single, with some doubles thrown in by Sophie Shkurko, Duncan Waugh and Paul Ybarra, plus two Masters’ errors.

The Masters responded with three runs in the bottom of the inning, including a double by Danny Gunn and a towering home run from Chris Yoxall, but that only made the score 18-6.

Six more runs for USA in the top of the fourth inning took the game into mercy rule territory at 24-6, and home runs by Tyler McGoveran and Paul Ybarra drove in five of the six runs.

In the bottom of the fourth inning, Kim Hendry singled for the GB Masters with one out, but the game then ended on a fantastic double play, with USA captain Duncan Waugh again at the centre of it.

Danny Gunn hit a long fly ball to left field that was hauled in by Paul Ybarra -- but when Kim attempted to tag up and go to second, Paul’s throw was somehow corralled by Duncan, who slid across the base and tagged Kim at the same time.

It was no surprise that Duncan Waugh, who also went 3-for-4 with three runs scored and three RBIs, was named the male MVP for the final, while the female MVP trophy went to Kim Miller, who also had three hits and played a solid left-centre field.

After the game, Duncan Waugh said, “They woke us up in the 1v2 game, and they made sure we had to take them very seriously.  So we dropped down to five-and-five for the final, and we didn’t let up.  I’m pretty proud of that performance – it was very cool!”

Could Team USA be building a World Series dynasty, and could they become the first team to win three World Series in a row?  Tune in this time next year….


Results​

Here is how the teams finished in the 2017 Softball World Series:

Final Trophy Standings
1 – USA
2 – GB Masters
3 – Anzacs
4 – GB Futures
5 -- England
6 – UCE Travellers (Germany)

Final Plate Standings
7 – Munster (Ireland)
8 – Scotland
9 – Canada
10 – Africa
11 – Team Narnia
12 – Dutch Lions (Netherlands)

Final Cup Standings
13 – Wayne Pardubice (Czech Republic)
14 – Wales
15 – Japan
16 – Latinoamerica
17 – Swiss Toros
18 – Belgian All-Stars
 

World Series Winners​

With this year’s triumph, the USA now has four World Series wins, moving them into a tie with Africa and the Anzacs as the teams with the most wins in the competition’s 19-year history.

2017 – USA
2016 – USA
2015 – UCE Travellers (Germany)
2014 – England
2013 – Anzacs
2012 – Anzacs
2011 – Lakenheath Eagles
2010 – Lakenheath Eagles
2009 – England
2008 – Anzacs
2007 – Anzacs
2006 – Rest of the World
2005 – USA
2004 – Africa
2003 – Africa
2002 – USA
2001 – Africa
2000 – Africa
1999 -- England

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