Titles up for grabs in final week of GBFL play

Mon 28 May 2018

With just one day of play left in the 2018 Great Britain Fastpitch League season – coming up on Saturday 2 June at Farnham Park – the race for the title in both the Women’s and Men’s Divisions could not be tighter.

Results of games played on an ultimately sunny Saturday on 26 May after a murky start mean that in the Women’s Division, London Angels hold just a half-game lead over the defending champions, The Mix.  So the game they will play against each other on the final day of the season could decide the title – and with it a place in next year’s European Women’s Cup.

Meanwhile, in the Men’s Division, Meteors Red, who have been the frontrunners all season, could not field a team on 26 May and this cost them four forfeit losses.  The result was to put last year’s title-winners, Meteors Black, into a one-game lead in the standings.  Again, the match-up between these two teams on 2 June could well decide the divisional champion.

So there are likely to be some tense and exciting games in both divisions on the final day of the season – and while the front-running teams will no doubt be concentrating on the games against each other, they need to be wary of ambushes from behind, because the third and fourth-place teams in both divisions have already upset the leaders this season and are perfectly capable of doing so again.

All in all, there are lots of reasons for coming down to Farnham Park on Saturday 2 June to watch what promises to be a fascinating day of fastpitch softball.  Play gets underway in both divisions at 9.30 am.

Women’s Division

It was a day of high drama in the Women’s Division on 26 May.  The Mix had started the day with a one-game lead over the Angels and were hoping to put some daylight between themselves and their rival.

Both teams won their opening games, as the Angels cruised past the Oxford Diamonds 17-0 and The Mix outgunned the Free Agents 18-6.  And then it was time for the two teams to play each other.

For four innings, this was a brilliantly-played game, especially by The Mix.  Silvia Garzon started for The Mix, and over those first four innings, 12 Angels came up and 12 Angels went down, mostly on ground balls to an infield made up of GB Under-22 or Under-19 players Saskia Davies, Holly Newell, Glenys McGuire and Sian Wigington, who handled all of them impeccably.

The Angels also played well on defense, but The Mix were still able to build up a 4-0 lead against Angels’ starter Kylie Marshall.

But everything changed in the fifth and final inning.  Silvia Garzon lost the strike zone, The Mix’s defense lost a bit of discipline, and suddenly the Angels put five runs across to take a 5-4 lead, and were three outs away from a victory that would have put them into first place.

And then they were one out away, with Saskia Davies, who had reached on a double for The Mix, standing on third base.  The next batter hit a routine infield grounder, but the throw sailed over the head of the Angel first baseplayer, Saskia scored, and the game ended in a 5-5 tie that didn’t help either team in the standings, and left The Mix with their slight advantage. 

But that didn’t last long.

In the final game of the day, The Mix found themselves in a hard-fought game against the third-place Oxford Diamonds, who have been steadily improving as the season has gone on.  In the top of the final inning, The Mix scored twice to take a one-run lead, but the Diamonds were not to be denied.  The Oxford team loaded the bases, and then Lesley Roberts drove a base hit to right field, bringing in two runs to win the game, and send the Angels into first place with a tiny lead, as you can see in the standings below.

When the final games are played on 2 June, in addition to the usual round-robin, the Angels will have an additional game against the last-place Free Agents, rained out back in April, that adds further permutations to the potential final standings.

It should be an exciting day!

Here are the scores and standings from Week 5:

London Angels 17, Oxford Diamonds 0
The Mix 18, Free Agents 6
The Mix 5, London Angels 5
Oxford Diamonds 15, Free Agents 11
London Angels 14, Free Agents 0
Oxford Diamonds 8, The Mix 7

London Angels 17 11 5 1 .667 134 71
The Mix 18 11 5 2 .647 162 83
Oxford Diamonds 18 9 8 1 .514 140 121
Free Agents 17 2 15 0 .118 81 218


Men’s Division

With Meteors Red in absentia and relinquishing their first-place lead by taking four forfeit losses, the opportunity was there for Meteors Black to virtually put the Division title away. 

The Blacks took care of Bracknell by 11-2 in their first game of the day and only had to beat the Lions in the final game to establish a two-game advantage in the loss column over Meteors Red heading into the final Saturday of the season.  This would have mean that the final result would no longer be in the Meteors Reds’ hands; they would have needed help on that final day.

But the best-laid plans can go astray, and when the resurgent Lions, who are mainly the GB Under-19 Men’s Team, pulled off a 5-1 win over Meteors Black with efficient pitching and fielding, it left the table as you can see below.

The game between Meteors Red and Meteors Black on 2 June now becomes crucial, and whoever wins that game will probably win the title.

Unless, of course, there are more Lions waiting in ambush!

Here are the scores and standings from Week 5:

Lions 7, Meteors Red 0 (forfeit)
Meteors Black 11, Bracknell 2
Meteors Black 7, Meteors Red 0 (forfeit)
Lions 9, Bracknell 0
Bracknell 7, Meteors Red 0 (forfeit)
Bracknell 7, Meteors Red 0 (forfeit)
Lions 5, Meteors Black 1

Meteors Black 18 12 5 1 .686 127 68
Meteors Red 18 12 6 0 .667 109 76
Lions 17 6 9 2 .375 87 115
Bracknell 17 3 13 1 .182 64 130


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