Pioneers and Blitz Bombers continue to lead NSL standings

Mon 17 Jun 2019

Monday 1 June -- The second round of games this season in the National Softball League, played at the second Diamond Series tournament on 15-16 June at Farnham Park, has seen the leaders maintain their momentum in title races that look like going to the wire.

Pioneers still lead NSL1 after the second round of play, but four other teams are with a game-and-a-half of the them, while NSL 2 is even tighter.  The Blitz Bombers retain the lead, but the top three teams are all on three losses and are separated only by the number of draws each of them has played.

Meanwhile, the more important races in the National Softball League at this stage are arguably the struggle to make the top eight and secure a place in the NSL Nationals at the end of the season.

Here, too, the races are tight.  In NSL1, just three games separate the sixth and tenth place teams, while the margin between sixth and tenth in NSL2 is just two-and-a-half games.

So there will be a lot still to play for when the third and final round of NSL regular-season games takes place in July.

This season, unusually, those final rounds will be split.  The 12 NSL2 teams will play a final weekend of NSL games at Diamond Series 3, on 20-21 July.

But because of the European Slowpitch Championship taking place in Hungary from 15-20 July and pulling key players away from many NSL1 teams, the final round of NSL1 play will be a standalone event at Farnham Park on the weekend of 27-28 July.


NSL1

In NSL1, the Pioneers cruised through most of their games, including an astonishing 31-2 win over the KKs, who are holding down ninth place in the division.  But they ran into trouble against H2O, drawing 8-8, and suffered their only loss of the weekend to the old enemy, the Chromies, by 13-11.

The Chromies, who have been jousting with the Pioneers at the top of A-grade softball for the past few years, only managed a 4-3 record in the first round of NSL games in May and that left them in fifth place, with some people writing them off.  But the Chromies have bounced back, going 6-1 at Diamond 2, and now sit in third place, just a game-and-a-half out of the top spot.

The Chromies beat up on some of the lower-placed teams in the division at Diamond 2, with wins over LNZ by 22-2 and the Mavericks by 21-0 and they also trounced the fifth-place Travelling Dodgers 26-5 and the second-place Knights 15-6.  But Chromies are always prone to the odd banana-skin result, and this past weekend it came in the form of a 15-12 loss to the eighth-place Greensox.

Meanwhile, one of the more consistent teams over the first two weekends of NSL play has been the Knights, who went 5-2 on the opening weekend and 5-1-1 this past weekend and thus remain in second place, just one game behind the Pioneers and hoping to strike for their first-ever NSL title.

In the race for NSL Nationals places, the top five teams – Pioneers, Knights, Chromies, H2O and the Travelling Dodgers, are looking safe. 

But that leaves three places to be contested by Blue Steel and Legends on seven losses, the Greensox on eight losses, the KKs on nine, and even the Mavericks on 10 losses have at least a chance.

NSL1 standings after the second weekend of NSL play are:


NSL 2

In NSL 2, the Blitz Bombers, who were in a first-place tie with Tempest after Diamond 1, took sole possession of the top spot this past weekend by going 6-1, with their only loss coming at the hands of the third-place Naturals by a score of 9-4. 

But the Bombers also had a very close 7-6 win over their club stablemate Blitz Havoc, and truggled to tight victories over both the Warriors and The Mob on Sunday, which will give the teams behind them heart.

Tempest remain in second place, level with the Bombers on three losses, but Tempest have also drawn two games, which could be the difference in the title chase.

The Naturals also have just three losses but have drawn three games.  Nevertheless, the Naturals, who were one of two unbeaten teams in NSL2 over the weekend, made the jump all the way up from seventh to third place by going 5-0-2 at Diamond 2.

An even more dramatic ascent was made by the Honey Badgers, who were languishing in 11th place after Diamond 1.  Six wins and a 9-9 draw with the Naturals this past weekend have propelled the Honey Badgers into fourth place.

In the race for NSL2 Nationals places, only the Blitz Bombers, Tempest, Naturals and Honey Badgers can feel relatively safe.

After that, the Terriers on six losses, SPAM, the Warriors and the Misfits on seven losses, Nino Privados on eight losses and the Bees on nine losses will all be trying to make the cut at Diamond 3.

NSL2 standings after the second weekend of NSL play are:

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