Angels and Meteors wrap up GBFL titles

Mon 3 Jun 2019

By going undefeated in Week 5 of the Great Britain Fastpitch League on Saturday 1 June at Farnham Park, the Meteors and the London Angels have wrapped up the Men's and Women’s Division titles respectively with one day of league play still to come.

Both teams have four fewer losses than their nearest challenger and have just three games scheduled on the final day of play on 12 October, so even if all of those games were lost, neither team could be caught.

This means that the Angels and Meteors will be the first teams in line to represent Great Britain in European Fastpitch Cup tournaments in 2020.

Because the division titles are now settled, the GBFL Committee is considering running the league’s final day of play as a Cup tournament with separate prizes and perhaps open to additional teams.
 

Women’s Division

The London Angels picked up four comfortable wins on 1 June to clinch the division title – three on the field and one as a forfeit from a game postponed from 11 May.

After beating the Free Agents 12-6 and the Barbarians by 15-5, the Angels might have been expecting a stronger challenge in the last game of a beautiful early summer’s day from the second-place Oxford Diamonds. 

But some of the Diamonds’ key players had had to leave early, and the Angels rolled to a 9-3 win over those who remained.

The young Free Agents team lost all three of their games on the day and will finish at the bottom of the division, but they continued to score runs against all their opponents with some excellent hitting.

The new team in the league this year, the Barbarians, had a chance to move into second place if they could have overcome the Oxford Diamonds in the first game of the day.  But the Barbarians were without their main pitcher, Barbara Killer, while the Diamonds were able to put GB Women’s Team player Amie Hutchison in the circle and won the game by 14-1.

There is no question that the London Angels were the most consistent team over the first five weeks of the short GBFL season and deserve the league title.  But it’s been a season in which all the Women’s Division teams, despite having a lot of players rostered, have often struggled to get enough players out on a given day to put a representative team on the field.

Scores and standings

Women’s Division scores on 1 June were:

Diamonds 14, Barbarians 1
Angels 12, Free Agents 6
Angels 15, Barbarians 5
Diamonds 9, Free Agents 4
Barbarians 16, Free Agents 6
Angels 9, Diamonds 3
Angels 7, Free Agents 0 (forfeit)

Standings after Week 5 are:

Angels (12-3)
Diamonds (8-7)
Barbarians (7-8)
Free Agents (3-12)
 

Men’s Division

Although the Meteors have been the most consistent team in the three-team Men’s Division of the GBFL, a pattern of close, competitive and well-played games continued on 1 June.

Each of the three teams has been able to field a credible pitcher throughout the season, and this has resulted in a high standard of play.

Going into the day, the Stags had an outside chance of challenging the Meteors for the division title, but it was imperative for the Stags to win their head-to-head match-up.  Going into the final inning, Meteors held a 7-6 lead, but the Stags scored four in the top of the final inning to grab a 10-7 advantage.  With the clock winding down towards 90 minutes, Meteors might have tried to stall and let the score revert, but instead they mounted a rally, scored four runs of their own and took the game by 11-10.

It was a win that effectively gave them the title.

The GB Under-19 Men lost all three games on the day and have only won once so far this season.  But as has been the norm, two of the three games they lost were close. 

In the last game of the day, against the Stags, the GB Under-19s took an 8-7 lead after the top of the final inning.  But the Stags brought home the tying run and had the bases loaded with no one out when time ran out, so the score reverted to 7-5 in the Stags’ favour.

At that point, both teams asked the umpires to let them play out the inning but let the result stand, and led by pitcher Josh Peat, the GB Under-19s retired the Stags without allowing any more runs to score. 

GB Under-19 Head Coach Ian Tomlin said, “It was a great game, enjoyed by both teams and the umpires.”

Despite the losses, the players on the GB Under-19 Men’s Team, many of whom are young and relatively new to softball, have had a good introduction to the game by playing the Meteors and Stags and will have learned a lot over the first five weeks of the season.

Scores and standings

Men’s Division scores on 1 June were:

Stags 10, GB Under-19 Men 3
Meteors 11, Stags 10
Meteors 7, GB Under-19 Men 4
Stags 7, GB Under-19 Men 5

Standings after the fifth week of play are:

Meteors (11-2)
Stags (8-6)
GB Under-19 Men (1-12)

Looking ahead

The GBFL will now take a long break until a final day’s play on Saturday 12 October at Farnham Park, which may now be staged as a separate Cup tournament if enough teams agree.

The main reasons for the break are that major slowpitch tournaments occupy most of the calendar in June, July, August and into September, which would take players away from the GBFL, and in July and August, international tournaments involving GB national teams would also take some players and coaches away from the league.

To create more opportunities for fastpitch play, the possibility of an indoor winter league – something that has existed in the past – will also be explored over next few months.

Anyone who wants to join a GBFL team, even for the last date in the outdoor season, can do so by contacting admin@fastpitchsoftball.co.uk.

Meanwhile, here are a few more images that give a flavour of the GBFL, contributed by Alan Le Marquand and Hugh Scorgie.

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