University baseball and softball on the rise

Tue 21 Oct 2014

Unprecedented numbers of universities have been taking part in National University Baseball Championships and National University Softball Championships run by BSUK at Farnham Park during October.
 

Baseball Championships

Leading the way were the first National University Baseball Championships to be staged at Farnham Park, on the weekend of 11-12 October.  Five teams battled over two days of competition to determine the outcome.

The teams came from Imperial College London, the University of Nottingham, the University of East Anglia, Southampton University and University College London.

The University of East Anglia took the title, edging out Imperial College London in the final, while third place went to the University of Nottingham.

Ashley Ng Ding Wen, president of Imperial College Baseball, said: "The Imperial College baseball team had seen flagging recruitment over the past few years, ever since the British University Baseball Association folded and the University Baseball League collapsed.  It was hard to hold on to players when they had nothing to train or play for, but with the establishment of the National University Baseball Championship and National University Softball Championship competitions, new life was breathed into the club and we've managed to recruit and retain many more players this year.

“New players have something to train for,” Ashley added, “and we hope that this renewed motivation will help the club to expand and grow.  Kudos to BSUK for the successful organisation of these tournaments!"
 

Softball Championships

On Saturday 18 October, a record entry of 12 teams from nine universities took to the diamonds at Farnham Park to contest the National University Softball Championships.  There were some familiar faces, but other teams were entering for the very first time.

The full list of teams was: Loughborough University A, Loughborough University Rec, Manchester Metropolitan University (Crewe) Eagles, University of Portsmouth Shafters Black, University of Portsmouth Shafters Purple, University College London Flying Penguins, Imperial College London, Bucks New University, Brighton University, the University of East Anglia, University of Nottingham Swingers A and University of Nottingham Swingers B.

With the weather very much on side, the competition began shortly after 9.00 am, with the 12 teams playing in three groups of four in an initial round-robin.  Most  matches were closely-fought affairs, with the standard of play being noticeably higher than in previous Championships.

The teams winning through to the final four were Loughborough University A, University of Nottingham Swingers A, Imperial College London and the University of Portsmouth Shafters Purple.

The University of East Anglia, chasing a baseball and softball double, were unlucky not to make the final four, but all teams progressed to playoff games that ensured they played a minimum of four games on the day.

At the business end of the tournament, the University of Nottingham Swingers won East Midlands bragging rights by seeing off an experienced and talented Loughborough University A side in the first semi-final.  In the other semi-final, the University of Portsmouth Shafters Purple overcame Imperial College London in a tense encounter.

This set up a final between the previous two winners of the competition, Portsmouth having taken the title in October 2013 only to see Nottingham take it back in March 2014.

In a match of very high quality, it was the University of Portsmouth Shafters Purple that held their nerve and regained the trophy they had last held 12 months ago.
 

Strong foothold

Both weekends are clear evidence that baseball and softball are now a part of the university sports calendar and that both sports are becoming well established in a number of institutions up and down the country.

Development staff at BSUK will be working hard in the coming months to ensure that the sports become embedded in even more universities, and are preparing for the next staging of the Championships in Spring 2015.

Any universities looking to establish or develop softball and or baseball in their institutions should contact BSUK for further support and guidance at: highereducation@BSUK.com.

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