Tight games feature in GBFL Week 4 play

Sun 26 May 2019

The Great Britain Fastpitch League finally got a warm and mostly sunny day on Saturday 25 May at Farnham Park on its fourth weekend of play, and the result was some good softball and tight games.

Results on the day allowed the London Angels to re-claim the lead in the Women’s Division while Meteors strengthened their grip on the Men’s Division. 

But both division leaders are still just about catchable with two weeks of play still to come, and the question of who will win the division titles and claim places in next year’s European Cup tournaments is still not settled.

Women’s Division

After losing two games in Week 3 to fall into a tie with Barbarians at the top of the Women’s Division, the London Angels (pictured above) re-asserted themselves on 25 May with fairly comfortable wins over all of their rivals, two of them behind the pitching of Kim Hannessen.

Barbarians, the new team in the league this year, had a less successful day, losing to Angels by 11-5 and to the Oxford Diamonds by 7-6 before hanging on for a 7-5 win over the Free Agents.

But then the Barbarians and Free Agents resumed a game that had been suspended in Week 3 due to a serious injury to a Barbarians’ player.  The Free Agents had been leading 3-1 when the game was stopped in the top of the fourth inning, and after the teams played two more innings to make it a legal game, the Free Agents had increased their margin to 5-1 while pitcher Emily Linnane kept the Barbarians off the scoreboard.

So the Barbarians now trail the Angels by 2.5 games in the standings and three in the lost column, and if they hope to win the league, they will need to beat the Angels on both of the last two weeks of play and hope someone else can do the same.

The Oxford Diamonds (wearing the blue shirts above) had swept all three games in Week 3, due in large part to the pitching and hitting of GB Women’s Team player Amie Hutchison, who had returned to the UK after her college season.  Amie wasn’t able to be at Farnham Park on 25 May, but the Diamonds still won two of their three games.  Another GB Women’s Team player, Chloe Wigington, contributed a long over-the-fence home run and solid defense at third base. 

This left the Diamonds level with the Barbarians in the standings, and with the same chance of catching the Angels before the season comes to an end.

The Free Agents, the youngest and least experienced team in the league, lost three scheduled games on 25 May before winning the resumed game with the Barbarians.  But the Free Agents are improving every week and becoming increasingly hard to beat, with the pitching of Emily Linnane able to keep them in games.

Scores and standings

Women’s Division scores on 25 May were:

Angels 11, Barbarians 5
Diamonds 11, Free Agents 5
Angels 9, Free Agents 3
Diamonds 7, Barbarians 6
Barbarians 7, Free Agents 5
Angels 5, Diamonds 1
Free Agents 5, Barbarians 1 (completed game from Week 3)

Standings after Week 4 are:

Angels (8-3)
Barbarians (6-6)
Diamonds (6-6)
Free Agents (3-8)

The serious injury in Week 3 that caused the suspension of the game between Free Agents and Barbarians also caused the cancellation of a game between Free Agents and Angels.  This game will be made up on 1 June.

Men’s Division

At the end of Week 3 in the GBFL Men’s Division, the Stags had been just a game behind the Meteors.

But after the teams played a pair of very close games on 25 May, both going to Meteors by scores of 7-6 and 5-3, a gap has opened between them and the Stags will need to find a way to beat the Meteors on both of the final two days of GBFL play and hope that the GB Under-19 Men can find a way to do so as well.

This may be unlikely, as the Under-19 Men have only won a single game all season, but like the Free Agents in the Women’s Division, the young GB Team is staying in games longer and looks certain to add to their win total before the end.

Scores and standings

Men’s Division scores on 25 May were:

Meteors 7, Stags 6
Meteors 9, GB Under-19 Men 1
Stags 14, GB Under-19 Men 4
Meteors 5, Stags 3

Standings after the fourth week of play are:

Meteors (9-2)
Stags (6-5)
GB Under-19 Men (1-9)

Upcoming games

Week 5 of GBFL play will take place on Saturday 1 June at Farnham Park, and then there will be a long hiatus until the final day of the season on 12 October.

The reason for the long break is that major slowpitch tournaments occupy most of the calendar in June, July, August and into September, which would take players away from the GBFL, and in July and August, international tournaments involving GB national teams would also take some players and coaches away from the league.

Given that many GBFL teams struggle for players at the best of times, it seems impractical to schedule GBFL play during the main summer months.  But if the league is to grow and progress, a way will need to be found to create more opportunities for fastpitch play, and the possibility of an indoor winter league – something that has existed in the past – will be explored.

Meanwhile, anyone who wants to join a GBFL team for the remainder of the season can still do so by contacting admin@fastpitchsoftball.co.uk.

Photos by Hugh Scorgie and Liz Knight.

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