Four national championships settled at Wokingham

Mon 13 Aug 2012

by Bob Fromer

The British Softball Federation crowned its Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze National Champions for 2012 on a warm and sunny weekend, August 11-12, in the rural setting of Cantley Park outside Wokingham. 

The champions, spread nicely around the country, were:

Greensox (Manchester)

Jets (Bristol)

Masterbatters (Leeds)

Rhythm Royals (Windsor)

Nineteen teams took part, two less than a year ago, continuing a trend that the BSF will want to reverse, if it can, in 2013 when the awkwardly-named PGSB Nationals (or whatever may succeed them) are likely to be held at the refurbished Farnham Park.

Two of the finals were relatively close, but two were blow-outs that the teams on the receiving end will want to forget.

BSF President Stella Ackrell and Marketing Officer Mark Wigington were on hand at the end of the tournament to help give out the awards, but also to present gifts to BSF Tournaments Officers Liz Graham and Lesley Morisetti for all their work over many years.  Liz and Lesley will be stepping down as Tournaments Officers at the end of this season, though Liz may remain on the Executive as a Tournaments Consultant, pending further discussion.

How it works

Nine teams from around the country signed up for the weekend from what might be called B-grade and 10 teams from what could be referred to as C-grade, though the BSF doesn't use this terminology any more in relation to National Championships.

The B-grade teams played the opening round-robin in two groups of five and four, and the top three teams from Group A and the top two teams from Group B became the Platinum Nationals on Sunday, while the four teams that came bottom of those groups became the Gold Nationals.

The C-grade teams played the opening round-robin in two groups of five, and the top three teams from Groups A and B became the Silver Nationals on Sunday, while the four teams that came bottom of those groups became the Bronze Nationals.

So after the Saturday round-robins, which included eight games decided by a single run, one tie, and one 37-0 massacre, the tournament levels broke down as follows:

Greensox (Manchester) (3-0)
Raiders (London) (3-1)
Guppy Spotters (Bristol) (2-1)
Brewers (East Midlands) (2-2)
SPAM (London) (2-2)

Jets (Bristol) (2-2)
Oddsox (London) (1-2)
Mavericks (Manchester) (1-3)
Mescalitos Ninos (London) (0-3)

Hove Tuesday (Brighton) (4-0)
Angels (Oxford) (3-1)
Ascot (Windsor) (2-1-1)
Dohnuts (Edinburgh) (2-1-1)
Masterbatters (Leeds) (2-2)
Sheriffs (Nottingham) (2-2)

Outlaws (Manchester) (2-2)
Rookies (London Advertising League) (1-3)
Rhythm Royals (Windsor) (1-3)
Royals (Leicester) (0-4)


On Sunday, these four groups each played a new round-robin, except that in the Silver Championship, results from Saturday were carried over and teams only played opponents they hadn't met on the first day.

The Platinum and Silver tournaments then had semi-finals leading to finals, while in the Gold Tournament there was a final between the top two teams from the Gold round-robin plus a third-place playoff.  In the Bronze Championship there was simply a final between the top two teams from the Bronze round-robin.

In the Silver semi-finals, the Masterbatters from Leeds, who had defeated the Oxford Angels 10-3 in the first game Sunday morning, did it again, this time by 10-6.  Meanwhile, Hove Tuesday from Brighton, who had gone undefeated on Saturday, including a 12-6 win over the Nottingham Sheriffs, saw their hitting dry up in a semi-final against the same opponents, and the Sheriffs won 11-4 to claim their place in the final.

In Platinum, three teams – the Manchester Greensox, Nottingham Brewers and SPAM from London – all finished the Sunday round-robin with a record of 3-1, while the Raiders from London took the fourth semi-final spot on 2-2.  But when the runs conceded were tallied up among the tied teams, the Greensox took on SPAM in one semi-final, while the Brewers and Raiders tangled in the other.

Neither game was competitive:  the Brewers pounded the Raiders 15-1 and the Greensox, who had lost to SPAM that morning, got their revenge by a score of 16-4.  But SPAM's attention and momentum in what started out as a close contest was diverted by a bad injury early in the game to Jessica Cathro, who broke her wrist in an outfield collision.

So the four finals were lined up as follows:

Rhythm Royals (Windsor) v Rookies (London Advertising League)

Masterbatters (Leeds) v Sheriffs (East Midlands)

Mavericks (Manchester) v Jets (Bristol)

Greensox (Manchester) v Brewers (East Midlands)

The Finals

With the Bronze and Silver finals both played at 3.00 pm and the Gold and Platinum Finals played at 4.00 pm, it wasn't possible for one reporter to be in two places at once.

In the two finals not seen, the Rhythm Royals defeated the Rookies 19-12 to win the Bronze Championship.

The Jets hung on against the Mavericks for a 14-10 win that gave them the Gold title.

Silver Final

The Silver final, effectively the C-grade Championship game, was a game too far for the Sheriffs of Nottingham.  With only five women available, the Sheriffs had to start the game with their right-fielder, Usha Hirst, carrying a leg injury, and the Masterbatters mostly hit the ball that way.  For her gallant efforts in trying to cope with this, Usha was awarded Female MVP for the final.

The Sheriffs made a series of positional changes during the game to try to mask the problem, but nothing worked and the final score was 19-4.

The Masterbatters scored five runs in each of the first three innings, including six home runs, good for 11 of those 15 runs, all of which penetrated a Sheriffs' outfield that was getting worn down chasing balls to the far reaches of an unfenced field.  The home runs were hit by Larry Chan (2), Jarl Luscomb, Jon Black, Melissa Molles and Joe Cybaniak.

The lone Sheriffs' resistance came in the the third inning when they scored three runs thanks to two Leeds errors, a single by Jen Pooley and a solo home run from Lee Brooks.  But the game was never a contest and the Leeds team blasted their way to the Silver title.

“Their batting was awesome,” said the Sheriffs' Trudy Cooper.  “There was nothing we could do.”

In the Silver third place playoff game, a clash between two London teams, the Oddsox defeated the Mescalitos Ninos 11-4.

Platinum Final

If the Silver Final was one-sided, the Platinum Final, effectively the B-grade championship game, was even worse.

But it certainly didn't start out that way.  The Nottingham Brewers, batting first, scored two quick runs in the top of the first inning on a single by Roger Grooms and a long home run over the left-field fence by Phil Kielthy, and in the bottom of the inning, the Manchester Greensox managed only one in reply, on a double by Danny Gunn plus a misplay in the outfield that allowed Danny to continue his journey around the bases.

None of that gave much of a hint of what was to follow, which could be described as death by home run.  In the bottom of the second inning, the Greensox hit five home runs, including three in a row, though only Paul Kidley's shot to left field left the park.  The rest were blasted through gaps in the outfield, and, like the Sheriffs before them, the Brewers' outfielders ran themselves ragged chasing down balls that skipped to the base of the fence.

Those five home runs – by Stuart Kellock, Lauren Birch, Danny Gunn, Linda March and Paul Kidley – brought in seven runs and made the score 8-2.  But the Brewers rallied in the top of the third inning as Roger Grooms tripled and scored on a single by Muireann Walshe and then Phil Kielthy blasted an even longer home run over the fence in left field.  That made the score 8-5, and it still looked like a ball game.

That illusion was rudely shattered in the bottom of the third when the Greensox sent 19 batters to the plate and scored 15 runs on 13 hits and three Nottingham errors.  Only one of those hits was a home run – Stuart Kellock's second of the game – but there were five doubles and a triple to go with it, and everything that Greensox batters hit seemed to find holes in the outfield.

The Brewers made three pitching changes in the second and third innings to try to stem the tide, but nothing worked.

After the demoralised Brewers went three-up, three-down in the top of the fourth inning, the Greensox came to bat knowing that two more runs would give them a four-inning mercy rule win.  The Brewers didn't give up those runs up easily, but Kay Whitehead's single scored Stuart Kellock with two out, and then Danny Gunn singled in Mark Sanders for the game-ending run, with the score standing at 25-5.

When these two teams met in the final at Keele in 2007, the Nottingham team took home the title.

Five years later, the Greensox had a most emphatic revenge.

Final Standings

So the final standings in the four national championships were as follows:

1 – Rhythm Royals (Windsor)
2 – Rookies (London Advertising League)
3 – Outlaws (Manchester) and Royals (Leicester)

Final MVPs:
Rachel Stevens (Rhythm Royals)
Tom Dawborn (Rookies)

1 – Masterbatters (Leeds)
2 – Sheriffs (East Midlands)
3 – Angels (Oxford), Hove Tuesday (Brighton)
5 – Dohnuts (Edinburgh) and Ascot Blues (Windsor)

Final MVPs:
Usha Hirst (Sheriffs)
Lee Brooks (Sheriffs)

1 – Jets (Bristol) 
2 – Mavericks (Manchester)
3 – Oddsox (London)
4 – Mescalitos Ninos (London)

Final MVPs:
Yuki Ono (Jets)
Wendell Jones (Mavericks)

1 – Greensox (Manchester)
2 – Brewers (East Midlands)
3 – SPAM (London) and Raiders (London)
5 – Guppy Spotters (Bristol)

Final MVPs:
Lauren Birch (Greensox)
Paul Kidley (Greensox)

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Sheriffs of Nottingham. 08:56

I would like to comment about the write up on the silver nationals.It states their batting was awesome said the sheriffs Trudy Cooper there was nothing we could do. Trudy cooper plays for the Brewers was she commenting on their game ?

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