Pioneers and Mavericks grab NSL top spots after Diamond 1

Mon 21 May 2018

The opening games of the season in the National Softball League were played at the first Diamond Series tournament on the weekend of 19-20 May at Farnham Park.

Top spot in NSL1 after the first weekend of NSL play was gained by the Pioneers, who went 6-1 over the two days in games that count in the NSL standings.

In NSL 2, however, the Mavericks went one better, going undefeated with a 7-0 record to take a firm grip on first place.

Each division has 12 teams, and at the end of two more weekends of NSL league play, eight of those teams will go forward to the Premier and NSL2 National Championships, to be played on 1-2 September at Farnham Park.


NSL1

It’s no surprise that H2O and Chromies finished second and third respectively to Pioneers in the NSL1 standings after the first weekend of NSL play, with both teams on five wins and two losses.  Chromies and Pioneers have been the last two national champions and all three teams are competing in the European Slowpitch Super Cup in Italy later this summer.

H2O edged out Chromies for second place by virtue of a 12-8 win in their head-to-head encounter, while Pioneers’ only loss over the weekend was a surprising 10-7 defeat at the hands of the Greensox, who finished the weekend in ninth place.

The five teams bunched immediately behind the top three, all with a 4-3 record, would not all have been among the teams predicted to round off the top eight at this stage.  At the moment, however, with only runs conceded determining the places, they sit as follows:

4th – Knights
5th – Legends
6th – Blue Steel
7th – Dodgers
8th – LNZ

That leaves four teams with work to do to claw their way into the top eight and the Premier Nationals places over the remaining weekends of NSL play:  the Greensox and the newly-promoted KKs, both on 2-5, and Thunder and Bristol, both on 1-6.

Results from the first weekend suggest that the talent gap from top to bottom of NSL1 isn’t that great, but that some of the more experienced teams are better at winning the close games.  That could explain why H2O managed wins over KKs by just 14-12 and Legends by 5-4, while Chromies prevailed 10-9 over Bristol and 8-5 over Thunder and Pioneers carved over an 8-5 win over Blue Steel and had a 10-9 close shave with Legends – who, to be fair, were beaten finalists in last year’s Premier Nationals.

There will certainly be a lot to play for over the rest of the summer, especially for the teams currently in Places 4-12, where nothing is certain.

Here are the NSL1 standings after Diamond 1, showing wins, losses, draws and runs conceded:

Pioneers  (6-1-0-39)
H2O  (5-2-0-61)
Chromies  (5-2-0-60)
Knights  (4-3-0-51)
Legends  (4-3-0-52)
Blue Steel  (4-3-0-68)
Dodgers  (4-3-0-74)
LNZ  (4-3-0-84)
Greensox  (2-5-0-90)
KKs  (2-5-0-105)
Thunder  (1-6-0-85)
Bristol  (1-6-0-89)


NSL 2

Results from the first weekend in the second full year of NSL 2 play suggest that 2018 is going to be a very different season from last year.

The 2017 NSL2 Nationals champions, SPAM, are currently sitting in fifth place, while Mavericks, who finished seventh last year at the NSL2 Nationals, are comfortably in first, having outscored their opponents by an average of seven runs a game over the weekend.

The Warriors, eighth last year at the NSL2 Nationals, are currently second in the table, while Blitz and Naturals, second and third last year at the Nationals, are currently sixth and eighth respectively.  It may be early in the season, but with only two weekends of NSL league play still to come, turning around a bad start can be a tough proposition.

The difference in Blitz’s position in the table between last season and this may be partly due to the fact that there was just one Blitz team in NSL2 last year, and now there are two.  It’s the Blitz Bombers who occupy sixth position while Blitz Havoc are ninth.

Despite going undefeated, the Mavericks didn’t have things entirely their own way, with close wins over Nino Privados by 11-9, the Naturals by 6-5 and Bristol Bees by 7-3.  But their other four games were fairly lopsided affairs, and they look like a team that will take some stopping.

Warriors also had their narrow escapes, prevailing over the unlucky Ninos Privados by 13-11 and Blitz Havoc by 4-3 before a 10-10 draw with the Pyromaniacs.  Had Ninos Privados scored just three more runs in each of those games, they would be the unbeaten team at the top of the table.

A lot of close games over the course of the weekend – including 18 decided by two runs or fewer – suggest that the race for NSL2 Nationals places will be hard-fought all summer.

Here are the NSL2 standings after Diamond 1, showing wins, losses, draws and runs conceded:

Mavericks  (7-0-0-36)
Warriors  (5-1-1-61)
Ninos Privados  (5-2-0-58)
Honey Badgers  (4-3-0-60)
SPAM  (4-3-0-55)
Blitz Bombers  (4-3-0-74)
Bristol Bees  (3-4-0-71)
Naturals  (2-4-1-65)
Blitz Havoc  (2-4-1-74)
Pyromaniacs  (2-4-1-76)
Terriers  (2-5-0-91)
Outlaws  (0-7-0-95)

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