Autumn season ends for Indoor softball

Mon 8 Dec 2014

The autumn season has just about come to an end for Indoor softball competitions in London, Manchester and Swindon, while a new indoor league will start up in Birmingham for the first time in February 2015.

Indoor softball continues to grow around the country, with each winter seeing more and more activity, whether competition or open training and recruitment sessions.  It's now fair to say that a good percentage of new players in BSF leagues and teams each year is picked up through winter activity.

Manchester

The Manchester Indoor Softball League started as a pilot in the spring of 2014 with just three teams, made up primarily of players from the outdoor Manchester Softball League.  It ran over nine weeks and ended with a game pitting Liverpool players against players from Manchester.

During the 2014 outdoor season, word spread about how much fun it was to play Indoor in the winter, and teams realised that Indoor gave them a way to keep those players interested who had joined later on in the season.

By August there were six teams interested in joining the Autumn Indoor League organised by BaseballSoftballUK.  The league incorporated special rules for 'new players': they would score two runs whenever they crossed the plate and would get an automatic run just for turning up for each inning they played.  The idea was to push current players to go out and find new players. 

The six teams could have been filled without new players, but one of the purposes of the Manchester Indoor League, as elsewhere, is to recruit new people to softball.  Existing teams were also keen to benefit from the 'new player rules'.  So a good deal of recruitment has gone on, and the  Mavericks, a long-established outdoor MSL team, is looking at forming a second outdoor team for 2015 based on the recruitment they have done over the autumn.

The other main purpose of the Indoor league is to allow players who have just started playing to continue to learn the rules.  These are kept as close as possible to outdoor rules, which makes Manchester different from other Indoor leagues in the UK but gives new players the least amount to learn when they go outdoors.

One of the teams in the Manchester Indoor League this autumn, the Batting Bears, is made up of brand-new players from insurance companies in Manchester, with sponsorship from Allianz.  Interestingly, they were second in the table with a week to go in the season – but being all new players, it helps that  they score two runs every time they cross the plate!

BSUK's North West Regional Development Manager Luis Arrevillagas said: “I had always wanted to bring Indoor to Manchester.  Ever since I started working for BSUK, I realised that many players join teams at the end of the normal playing season.  With baseball and softball being summer sports, some people look to do a summer sport in the 'summer', so it is normal that we have a lot of interest in July and August when our outdoor leagues have only a few weeks left.  So I thought it would be really important to create something in the autumn where those late joiners could continue to fall in love with the sport.  Training sessions are good, but newcomers are looking for fun and they want to play a game, even if they do not know how to catch a ball yet.”

Linni Mitchell, BSUK's Indoor League Facilitator, said: “The great thing about Indoor is that everyone and anyone can succeed very quickly.  You will have brand new players hitting home runs, and that's a massive boost for a new player – they get hooked straight away.”

The Manchester Indoor League will run a spring season for 10 weeks from January through March, and is aiming for nine teams, a 50% increase on the autumn.  Anyone interested in joining the league or who wants more information can visit the Indoor league's Facebook page or get in touch with Luis Arrevillagas.

London GO Mammoth League

GO Mammoth offers a range of recreational sports leagues and social events for adults who want to play team sports with a strong emphasis on fun and friendly participation and they run an Indoor Softball League on Tuesday nights at Canary Wharf, in partnership with BSUK.

The league is open to teams and individuals and is often a starting point for people getting involved with softball for the first time.  Each season runs for five weeks, with minor-round games over the first four weeks before an evening of playoffs.

This autumn, in two tightly contested grand finals, Diamonds won the title in both the Early Autumn and Late Autumn seasons.

Liz Knight, BSUK's London Development Manager said: “GO Mammoth indoor is a great place for people to start playing softball.  GO Mammoth does a really great job of running a social experience, not just a sport, with members invited to regular parties and social events.  One-third of
all GO Mammoth members didn't know anyone else when they first joined.  All the equipment is provided and there are always qualified facilitators on hand to help get people started.  We love seeing people who have come through other GO Mammoth sports get involved in softball for the first time.  And it's a great way for people to get some practise in before the outdoor season starts.”

Karen, 28, from East London said: “I joined as an individual and have loved it.  I have just moved to the area and wanted to meet new people.  My team was great and really friendly and everyone was there to have fun and get some exercise.  I've made some great friends through softball.”

The next GO Mammoth league is currently open for registration and games will start on 27 January.  For more information or to sign up, go to: http://www.gomammoth.co.uk/play-sport/leagues/venues/canary-wharf.

Swindon

The Swindon Softball League has been running indoor games on Thursday evenings from 8.00-9.00 pm at Highworth Recreation Centre, The Elms, Highworth, Swindon SN6 7DD. 

These have been more recruitment sessions than league play, with anyone welcome to turn up, and the aim has been to recruit new players to bring the small Swindon League up to five teams for the 2015 summer season.

Gloves and bats have been available to borrow at the Swindon sessions, and coaches have been on hand to help explain the game and the rules of Indoor softball to new players.

From January through March, the sessions will move from indoor games to coaching evenings aimed at both new and existing players.  For more information contact Dave Jones.

Birmingham

Birmingham's first-ever Indoor Softball League is recruiting now and will run from 5 February through 12 March from 6.00-8.00 pm at the Moseley School Health and Fitness Centre on Springfield Road in Moseley, Birmingham.

Like Swindon, the object is recruitment as much as competition: the aim is get more people playing softball across the city in the lead-up to the Birmingham Softball League's 2015 summer season.

Teams will consist of eight players with a minimum of three females.  Sessions will cost £4 per player and the deadline for team entries will be 30 January 2015.

For more information, to enter a team or to register as an individual player, email: birminghamsoftballleague@hotmail.co.uk.

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