No Balls and Lakenheath win at S/S Nationals

Mon 24 Jun 2019

By Bob Fromer

The women’s team No Balls and the Lakenheath men’s team have won top honours at the BSF’s exciting and vibrant Single-Sex Slowpitch National Championships, a tournament that sprawled over the grassy acres at Birmingham's Moor Lane Sports Ground on the weekend of 22-23 June.

With a full complement of 32 teams, and four of the eight fields fenced, the tournament enjoyed a gloriously warm summer’s day on Saturday and a mostly cloudy but pleasant day on Sunday, when rain occasionally threatened in the late afternoon but never amounted to more than a drizzle.

There was a great spirit throughout the weekend, and a lot of support between men’s and women’s teams from the same club or league.  At one point, most of the players from the Misfits men’s team from the East Midlands spent a whole game lined up on the first base dead ball line to support the club’s women’s team, the MissFits.


Platinum finals

Both finals in the top (Platinum) division were one-sided and ended on the mercy rule, and as both took place at the same time, it was only possible for this reporter to see one of them. 

Last year’s report concentrated on an excellent Women’s Platinum final, so this year was the turn of the men, where an undefeated Lakenheath took on the Pyros, a team they had only defeated by 13-8 during the round-robin stage of the tournament. 

In the final, however, Lakenheath came out firing and put up 11 runs in the bottom of the first inning on 12 hits, including four massive home runs, and there was no way back for their East Midlands-based opponents.  The game ended in the fifth inning on the mercy rule when the score reached 19-3.

The US military team blasted seven home runs in all during the game against Pyros pitchers Roger Grooms and Matt Tomlin, accounting for 14 of their 19 runs and making a field with a 300-foot fence look very small.  Seven different players put the ball over that fence:  Mike Smith, Tyler McGovern, Jordan Armstrong, Aaron Allen, AJ Royce, Tim George and Brandon Hickman.

The Pyros’ only response was a run in the second inning when Roger Grooms tripled and scored on a groundout, and two more in the fourth inning when a double by Josh Stanley and a single by Robbie Studholme was followed by an error and a sacrifice fly.

It was the second straight year of domination by US military base teams in the men’s half of the Single-Sex Nationals, with the Mildenhall Bombers having cruised to victory last year.  This time, however, the Bombers could only finish in a tie for third.
 

The Women’s Platinum final brought together No Balls, who had only lost once over the weekend and the defending champion Manchester Minx.  But No Balls had way too much power for the Minx, and this game also ended on the mercy rule when the score reached 19-4.

The best action in the Platinum division came in the semi-finals, where three of the four games were decided by a single run.

In the Men’s Platinum semi-finals, Lakenheath squeaked past the Puppies by 12-11, and the Pyros held off the Bombers by a score of 13-12.

In the Women’s Platinum semi-finals, No Balls took care of the Bristol Bluebirds by a score of 13-7, but the Manchester Minx only just prevailed by 5-4 against the MissFits.

For four-and-a-half innings, this game featured excellent pitching from Jenn Seguin of the MissFits and Tanya Basu from the Minx, plus high-level fielding by both teams, and at that point the score stood at 1-1.  In the bottom of the fifth inning, however, the bottom of the Minx batting order finally got the offense going, as Angela Killian, Becci Wadeson, Tanya Basu and Jo Griffin banged consecutive singles to left field, good for two runs.  Two outs later, Sherry Kenyon drove in two more with a single to centre field, and the Minx had a 5-1 lead.

But back came the MissFits in the top of the sixth and final inning, as Megan Beard led off with an over-the-fence home run and Ysa Urquiaga drew the only walk issued by Tanya Basu in the game.  Eventually, a single by Logan Grammer and an error in centre field produced three runs, and the tying run was on third and the go-ahead run on first when Jenn Seguin flied out to left field to end a great game and send the Minx to the final.


Results

The tournament started out with the teams divided into Comp and Rec divisions, and these broke down in the playoffs to Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze competitions.  Here are the full results:

Women

Women’s Platinum
Winner:  No Balls (London)
Runner-up: Manchester Minx
Final:  No Balls 19, Manchester Minx 4
Final MVP:  Vicky Chapman (No Balls)

Women’s Gold
Winner:  Sheriffs (East Midlands)
Runner-up:  Lakenheath
Final:  Sheriffs 24, Lakenheath 21
Final MVP:  Tracy Sharpe (Sheriffs)

Women’s Silver
Winner:  Solent Ladies
Runner-up:  Blitzches (London)
Final:  Solent Ladies 19, Blitzches 4
Final MVP:  Nicky Puckett (Solent Ladies)

Women’s Bronze

Winner:  Crazy Bats 1 (Manchester)
Runner-up:  Crazy Bats 2 (Manchester)
Final:  Crazy Bats1 19, Crazy Bats2 3
Final MVP:  Annie Downes (Crazy Bats 1)
 

Men

Men’s Platinum
Winner:  Lakenheath
Runner-up:  Pyros (East Midlands)
Final:  Lakenheath 19, Pyros 3
Final MVP:  Mike Smith (Lakenheath)

Men’s Gold
Winner:  Latinos (Manchester)
Runner-up:  Hoggs (Manchester)
Final:  Latinos 9, Hoggs 6
Final MVP:  Anthony Reyes (Latinos)

Men’s Silver
Winner:  Sheriffs (East Midlands)
Runner-up:  Bobcats (Birmingham)
Final:  Sheriffs 17, Bobcats 9
Final MVP:  Darrell Peters (Sheriffs)

Men’s Bronze
Winner:  Bracknell Scorchers
Runner-up:  Scottish Hitmen
Final:  Bracknell Scorchers 20, Scottish Hitmen 8
Final MVP:  Bill Sinclair (Bracknell Scorchers)

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